The DNR is warning residents throughout Minnesota, to be cautious about any type of outdoor burning.
Because of the unusually mild winter, and recent record high temperatures, there is now little or no snow cover throughout the state. As a result, the fire season that typically begins around April 1 has arrived a month early.
As of noon Thursday, there had been three significant fires within the previous 24 hours, at Blaine, Little Falls and Wannaska.
According to Dave Schuller of the DNR's Metro Forestry office, "The biggest threat right now is grass fires. We had an excellent growing season last year, so there's plenty of dry fuel. When you combine that with the warm temperatures and windy conditions we now have, such fires can start and spread quickly."
The DNR is watching conditions closely and considering imposing a ban on outdoor burning much earlier this year. In the metro area, DNR firefighters have been placed on standby to assist as needed with local firefighting efforts. A DNR air tanker is being pre-positioned at the Princeton airport, where it can quickly respond to fires in the central part of the state.
A DNR-approved fire permit is required for all outdoor burning other than a recreational campfire. Any outdoor burning should be monitored closely. Anyone who starts a wildfire -- even by accident -- may be liable for the cost of fighting that fire and any property damage that results.
The burning of woody debris is the single most common cause of wildfires in Minnesota.
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