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High winds, dry conditions fuel several house fires

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Fires erupted in several locations around Minnesota Wednesday afternoon, fueled by warm temperatures, dry conditions and strong winds.

These dramatic images were taken by bystanders in Otsego, where at least four homes in a new development were destroyed by fire.

FOX 9 reports that two of the houses were occupied and two others were still under construction. Nobody was injured in the blaze, which began around 4 p.m.

Here's a video clip showing the aftermath.

In St. Paul, a fast-moving fire destroyed one house and severely damaged another in the city's North End, WCCO reports.

The blaze began about 3 p.m. in a house on Front Avenue near the corner with Western Avenue, and quickly spread to another, in part because of the strong winds, according to fire officials.

At one point the firefighters had to withdraw from the second home and focus on protecting other nearby houses.

The first house was unoccupied, and a woman and eight children got out of the second house safely, according to WCCO. No injuries were reported.

A house in Sauk Rapids was destroyed by fire as well, according to the St. Cloud Times.

One of the owners told the Times she heard an explosion in the garage of their home.

“We could smell gas all of a sudden, and when we went to open the garage we smelt the smoke. We ran outside and saw the house was on fire," she said.

In addition to the structures, several grass fires were reported around the area, including one along Hwy. 36 in the north metro, along I-35 in Burnsville, at I-494 near Bush Lake Road and in Buffalo.

The smoke from one grass fire southwest of the Twin Cities was visible on Doppler radar.

Although we expect to see some rain passing through parts of Minnesota Wednesday night, fire warnings are in effect through tomorrow for much of the state because of the ongoing dry conditions.

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