A large grass fire in Lino Lakes is blowing smoke across Interstate 35W, decreasing visibility in the area.
According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the grass fire is next to Interstate 35W between Anoka County Road 23/Lake Drive and County Road 14.
MnDOT traffic cameras at 2:49 p.m. showed a helicopter swooping into nearby water and dumping it on the blaze and traffic backed up on the interstate.
Winds, with gusts topping 40 mph Tuesday afternoon, have aided in the fire's spread.
Strong winds on Monday and Tuesday, along with dry conditions and low humidity, have created ideal fire conditions across much of Minnesota and the Midwest.
In northwestern Minnesota, a stretch of Highway 2 was closed in both directions Monday due to reduced visibility caused by smoke from a nearby fire.
Strong winds fueled a mobile home fire, causing it to spread to a grassy and wooded area in Wadena County early Tuesday morning.
And in western South Dakota, a large fire, called the Schroeder Fire, burned roughly 1,900 acres, KELO Land reports. The blaze forced families in 400 homes to evacuate and led to Mount Rushmore being closed, NBC News said.
“Wildfire danger is especially high in April and May because we have dry conditions with no snow protection,” Casey McCoy, DNR fire prevention supervisor, said in a statement on Monday. “Once the landscape ‘greens up’ fire danger goes down — but until then, restrictions reduce the potential for wildfires.”
In Minnesota, burning permits are required in all counties, while numerous counties have burning restrictions in place (see the Minnesota DNR's website here), meaning people in these counties, including in Wadena County as well as much of the Twin Cities, are prohibited from burning yard waste or having other fires, and those who burn debris will be held financially responsible if a fire escapes and burns other property.