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Strong winds fuel fire, down power lines in east-central Minnesota

A fire at a mobile home spread to roughly 3 acres of grass and woodland in Wadena County early Tuesday morning.

Strong winds fueled a mobile home fire, causing it to spread to grassy and wooded areas in east-central Minnesota early Tuesday.

The fire at a mobile home in Section 24 of Lyons Township, east of Verndale, was reported at about 2:25 a.m. on Tuesday, the Wadena County Sheriff's Office said in a news release

When deputies arrived, they found the mobile home fully engulfed in flames and "several" live power lines across the road, noting it appeared strong winds blew over a tree that then knocked down the lines. 

The mobile home fire spread to approximately 3 acres of grass and woodland, as well as other pieces of "old machinery and equipment." 

Fire crews battled the fire in 23 mph winds, but the mobile home and "several other pieces of machinery and equipment" were all damaged in the fire. 

No injuries were reported and a cause of the fire hasn't been released. 

Assisting the sheriff's office at the scene were the Sebeka and Verndale fire departments, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Forestry Fire and Todd Wadena Electric Cooperative.

The entire western half of Minnesota was under a red flag warning on Monday until early Tuesday morning due to strong winds and low humidity, which create ideal wildfire conditions.

The weather, combined with dry conditions in many areas of the Midwest, caused problems elsewhere too. In northwestern Minnesota, a stretch of Highway 2 was closed in both directions due to reduced visibility caused by smoke from a nearby fire. 

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.

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