The urge to celebrate Independence Day with pyrotechnics seems to be overruling statewide fire warnings, with tinderbox conditions gripping parts of the state.
The problem is especially pronounced in northern Minnesota. On Saturday, the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office issued a statement on Facebook saying, "as expected, we have already had fires related to fireworks."
The post reminds residents that the DNR has "prohibited ALL fireworks" in the county, including legal fireworks.
The Bemidji fire chief is echoing that warning. In an MPR interview, Chief Justin Sherwood pleaded with the public to "refrain from using fireworks this year and just enjoy the show put on by the professionals," who will be lighting this year's display "from a barge in the middle of the downtown’s lake" with "a lot of fire safety measures in place."
The station says that conditions are so dry in the area, there was a "fire in town caused by sparks from a car accident, and another fire caused by fireworks."
As the DNR noted last week, the ongoing drought around the state means that something as small as an "unintentional spark in these dry conditions could ignite a wildfire."
Very few places in Minnesota saw drought conditions improve over the past week, namely a narrow band in south-central and southeastern Minnesota where heavy rain fell last weekend. A sliver of the Twin Cities also improved slightly as just shy of an inch of precipitation fell June 26-28.
Since March, Minnesota has seen more than 1,400 wildland fires, which have burned roughly 35,000 acres since March, which is more than a typical year.