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Wet summer dampens outlook for firewood

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People who heat with wood, or those who enjoy sitting by a crackling blaze in the fireplace, may be in trouble as temperatures drop.

The Duluth News Tribune reports a significant shortage of firewood is on the horizon, brought on by a wet summer that prevented loggers from getting into the woods to fell trees. The newspaper reports some Twin Ports firewood companies are telling customers they are so far behind they can’t take any additional orders, while others aren't even bothering to answer their phones.

In an unusual twist, KARE 11 reports Stillwater-based Pinnacle Firewood is trucking logs to homeowners in Duluth and other points up north. Typically, the log trucks travel in the opposite direction, with wood from the northern forests traveling to customers in the metro area. This fall's reversed long-distance delivery will cost northern customers more than they would pay for northern wood.

Jason McCullough, co-owner of Pinnacle, said demand is high in part because last winter's high cost of propane drove many rural customers to seek firewood as a backup for home heating.

In addition, the state’s gypsy moth quarantine on wood from Lake and Cook counties has also pinched supplies.

The shortage of wood has hit paper mills in the northern part of the state. Wayne Brandt, executive vice president of the Minnesota Timber Producers Association industry group, told the newspaper the wood shortage was “unprecedented.”

The problem extends beyond Minnesota's forests. WMUR in Manchester, New Hampshire reported firewood supplies are tight there, noting that loggers are selling to state power plants – so there may not be much left for people with fireplaces or wood-burning stoves. The Halifax Chronicle-Herald reports tight supplies across the Canadian province of Nova Scotia as well.

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