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Extreme fire conditions in MN, WI Friday afternoon

Officials say any spark could become a wildfire, noting conditions will make fires spread rapidly and be difficult to contain.
Fire, firefighters

The risk for fires in most of Minnesota is "extreme" Friday afternoon, with the Minnesota DNR saying "any spark could become a wildfire."

The state is seeing strong winds and low humidity, which are ideal for wildfires, prompting the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue a red flag warning until 8 p.m. Friday for much of Minnesota, except for the northeastern part of the state. 

The fire danger in Wisconsin is also "very high" heading into the weekend, the Wisconsin DNR said

The NWS Twin Cities says strong southerly winds of 20-25 mph with gusts up to 40 mph are in store Friday afternoon, which will reduce humidities to 15-25% across much of the area. 

These weather conditions, combined with warmer temperatures and dry conditions, all contribute to "extreme fire behavior," NWS says. 

The Minnesota DNR says the fire danger is "extreme" in much of southern Minnesota and is "high" everywhere else in the state, noting burning permits are required in some counties in southern Minnesota.

Officials warn that any fire that does start will likely spread rapidly and be difficult to contain. Because of this, outdoor burning of any kind is not recommended.

The Wisconsin DNR is asking people to avoid all outdoor burning, limit the use of campfires and dispose of cigarettes properly. 

"Outdoor enthusiasts should also use caution with off-road vehicles or equipment that can create a spark that start a fire," the Wisconsin DNR said in a news release Friday.

The risk for fires in Minnesota has been high to extreme for much of this week, with several wildfires and grass fires reported. 

A wildfire in northwestern Minnesota, called the Oxcart Fire, that started Monday afternoon caused a highway to close and has scorched 13,000 acres, making it the largest wildfire in Minnesota in nearly a decade. 

A large grass fire was reported Tuesday afternoon in Lino Lakes, burning 118 acres and came within 50 feet of two homes. Officials believe a cigarette being thrown out of a vehicle caused the blaze. 

There were also seven grass fires in Benton County this week, some officials believe were started deliberately

And in Wisconsin, more than 200 wildfires have been reported this year, burning more than 450 acres, the Wisconsin DNR said. Officials there expect a slightly longer than average fire season because of how early the snow melted this year. 

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