Northern MN wildfire under control, as DNR urges awareness

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A wildfire that consumed more than 4,000 acres near Warroad in northern Minnesota is about 80 percent contained as of Sunday morning, fire officials said.

It's just the latest in a series of wildfires that have broken out in the area over the past few weeks because of extremely dry conditions and a lack of rain.

The blaze, known as the Palsburg Fire, began Wednesday and has been burning on state land in the Beltrami Island State Forest, according to the Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS).

The cool, wet weather that's expected over the next several days has lessened the risk of the fire, and the state is turning over management of the firefighting to local officials, the MNICS said.

It's been a challenging spring for fire crews around the state. The Department of Natural Resources says more than 800 fires have broken out so far, and burned 15,000 acres.

So far this year, the agency has responded to almost twice as many fires as it did in all of last year.

“With last year’s drought, lack of winter snow fall and early spring, wildland firefighters and rural fire departments are already battling wildfires this spring,” said Linda Gormanson, the DNR's wildfire prevention coordinator.

Burning restrictions remain in effect over much of Minnesota, as illustrated by this map.

 DNR map

DNR map

It's probably more than a coincidence, then, that this week has been declared Wildfire Prevention Week in Minnesota to help increase awareness of fire hazards outdoors.

According to the DNR, spring is prime time for wildfires, after the snow has melted and before grasses, shrubs and other vegetation start to green up, because last year's dry vegetation can catch fire quickly.

The DNR is urging people to be more careful with any fires they set outside, noting that the vast majority of wildfires are human-caused.

Most grass and brush fires are started by burning debris that escapes from debris fires or campfires, according to the DNR.

Officials encourage people to mulch or compost old vegetation instead of burning it.

Burning permits are required for such fires, and can be restricted depending on weather conditions. They're available online, from local fire wardens or DNR forestry offices.

The latest information on fire danger and burning restrictions is available here.

On average, fire agencies in Minnesota annually respond to 1,200 wildfires that burn over 38,000 acres at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.

Current information on statewide fire danger and burning restrictions is available online. Burning permits are available online, from local fire wardens or DNR forestry offices.

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