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Gusty winds fuel grass fires, could also cause problems for drivers

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Wind gusts could reach 50 mph in parts of Minnesota Monday, possibly causing problems for motorists and fueling grass fires.

After record-setting warmth Sunday, strong winds are expected across the region (and bring much cooler temperatures).

Sustained wind speeds of more than 30 mph are expected, with wind gusts above 50 mph likely in western Minnesota through Monday afternoon, while the Twin Cities could see gusts exceed 40 mph, the National Weather Service says.

The agency has issued a high wind warning for much of western Minnesota and a wind advisory for eastern Minnesota into western Wisconsin until late afternoon into the early evening.

High wind speeds could make driving difficult for high-profile vehicles, cause areas of blowing dust, and blow around loose outdoor objects, the National Weather Service notes.

There have been some reports of damage due to Monday's high winds. Trees were knocked down in West St. Paul from "non-thunderstorm winds", the National Weather Service's preliminary storm report shows.

High fire danger

Strong and gusty winds can lead to tricky fire behavior, the weather service says. Winds, combined with drier air and low humidity, can create "less than ideal conditions if any grass or crop fires" start.

The fire danger is high Monday for portions of southwestern Minnesota, which has the agency urging caution for people harvesting or driving in dormant grasses.

Sunday's heat and high winds fueled brush fires and increased the fire danger in North Dakota, the Grand Forks Herald reports. Officials in Stutsman County responded to roughly a dozen fires Sunday afternoon.

“There were no injuries today that I am aware of,” Stutsman County, North Dakota, Emergency Manager Jerry Bergquist told the Jamestown Sun Sunday. “There was the home that was lost and a couple of other fires came close enough to melt siding on other homes.”

Pillager, Minnesota, area fire and rescue also responded to a grass fire near Camp Ripley Sunday night, according to a post on Facebook. A tree had fallen on a power line, which caused the fire. It took officials about 4.5 hours to control the blaze.

It's not clear what cause the tree to fall.

Winds are expected to diminish somewhat Monday night, with cooler and dry weather expected for most of the week, the weather service says.

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