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Dozens of wildfires burn as fire conditions remain extreme


A driver's attempt to dispose of a cigarette butt by tossing it out a car window came back to burn her. Literally.

It also torched her Subaru Forester and started a grass fire that burned a couple of acres in Eagan Wednesday, Sun This Week reports, and crews from three cities joined the effort to fight the fire, which burned for about an hour and closed part of Minnesota Highway 13, KSTP reports.

Gov. Dayton calls for help

The Eagan fire was one of more than 35 burning across Minnesota Wednesday, according to an executive order from Gov. Mark Dayton authorizing National Guard units to help the firefighting efforts.

Fires caused extensive damage in Minneapolis and near Forest Lake.

The International Falls Journal reports a fire in that city led to the evacuation of some residents.r

Multiple agencies, including crews in the air, responded to several fires in the Bemidji area as well, the Bemidji Pioneer says.

And neighboring states are also having trouble with fires. A large grass fire closed Interstate 29 in northeast North Dakota Wednesday when smoke reduced visibility to nearly zero, causing multiple car accidents, Forum News Service notes.

'Extreme' fire danger

Most of Minnesota has been in extreme or very high fire danger this week due to dry conditions, warmer-than-average temperatures, low humidity and strong blowing winds, officials note.

When conditions are like this, even small fires can be destructive and spread rapidly, the DNR says.

The DNR says the state's drought is expected to "persist and intensify statewide," however timely rains could help reduce the number of wildfire incidents – if the rain total is more than a half-inch. Most of the state is in moderate drought.

As of April 13, there were 685 wildfires in Minnesota that burned 11,971 acres, the state Department of Natural Resources says.

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