Imagine pulling out all your winter clothes and putting them all on -- from wool sweaters and a snowmobile suit to a hat, mittens and scarf -- then heading outside in Monday's hot and humid weather.
Then try to imagine attempting to extinguish a raging truck fire.
But it was all in a day's work for Brainerd firefighters.
About 11 firefighters from the Brainerd Fire Department braved the hot weather Monday when they responded to a pickup fire just after 3 p.m. Monday on Highway 371 North at Cinosam Road. Their protective suits weigh about 50 pounds each. It was the second vehicle fire of the day.
Monday's high was 92 degrees.
The truck, owned by Joe Christensen, was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived on the scene Monday afternoon. The truck had been pulling a trailer, which may have contributed to the vehicle overheating, said Charlie Dunemann, a Brainerd fire engineer.
The other vehicle fire was reported at 8:05 a.m. Monday behind the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport. That truck also was a complete loss.
In hot weather like Monday, firefighters make sure they drink a lot of water and Gatorade and only wear their protective suits and equipment for 12-20 minutes at a time, rotating jobs so as to not suffer heat exhaustion, said Dunemann.
But it's all part of the job, he said.
"It's hard for a lot of people to understand, but you gotta like doing this," Dunemann explained. "These guys don't even question it. For what these guys do, they go through a lot, whether it's 40 below or 95 above, they just put their gear on and do what needs to be done."
The heat wave across the state continues today as the National Weather Service in Duluth reported high temperatures today in the Brainerd lakes area around 90 to 95 degrees. The forecast for today is partly sunny, hot and humid, with scattered thunderstorms.
Wednesday's forecast is mostly cloudy, warm and humid, with a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms, some possibly severe. Highs are expected 82 to 87 degrees with southwest winds at 10 to 15 mph.
The last measurable trace of precipitation was about 0.1-inch on Aug. 3, said DNR forester Bud Bertschi.
Until the heat breaks, Brainerd lakes area residents should recognize the warning signs of heat stroke, which occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature. The body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails and the body is unable to cool down, according to the National Center for Environmental Health. Body temperatures may rise to 106 degrees or higher within 10-15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.
The warning signs of heat stroke vary but can include an extremely high body temperature; red, hot and dry skin with no sweating; rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion and unconsciousness. Those suffering from heat stroke should be cooled down with water and immediate medical assistance should be called. The victim's body temperature should be monitored and cooling techniques should be administered until the body temperature drops to 101-102 degrees, according to the National Center for Environmental Health.
Rain, which could arrive Wednesday, won't likely help Brainerd hog farmer LeRoy Thompson recover from a drought that has devastated his corn crop.
Thompson, with his sons Bruce and Dale, own Norway Ridge Farm east of Brainerd. They have about 1,500 pigs and plant a 475-acre corn crop to feed their swine herd. More than 50 percent of their corn crop has been destroyed by the lack of rain, he said.
"There ain't going to be much there, that's for sure," said Thompson, noting that he would have to resort to buying corn in order to feed his herd.
"If it doesn't rain, it's going to be tragic," said Bernie Penner, county executive director for the Cass and Crow Wing Farm Service Agency. "If it rained today, at least the pastures would be green. But it wouldn't help with the hay. ... The corn has a chance, but there are cornfields that are completely lost to drought. If it were July, we could talk about recovery. But we only have three weeks of growing left in this part of the state. The hot, dry, windy weather hit at a poor time at the end of the crop year."
Penner said that the rain earlier this summer helps with the small grain crops, like oats, barley, rye and wheat. The first cutting of hay crops was harvested, but the second cutting has been lost, he said. Surface moisture in Cass and Crow Wing counties is now 80-90 percent inadequate, as it is for other neighboring counties.
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