The relatively snowless Minnesota winter, dormant vegetation, low humidity, and warming spring temperatures have combined to create a greater risk for grass and wildland fires.
In the past week, the Elk River Fire Department has responded to five grass fires, including one fire that burned over 16 acres of dry vegetation in Otsego on Saturday afternoon. “The fire spread rapidly across an open field due to high winds and dry conditions,” said fire chief T. John Cunningham. No buildings were damaged from the fire that was near a populated residential area. Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire before it reached any buildings.
A helicopter with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was also called in to assist firefighters on the ground. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation by the DNR.
Burning restrictions are currently in place in Elk River and Open Burning Permits will not be issued until further notice. While recreational fires are still permitted, residents are advised to use extreme caution.
A single ember can ignite dry vegetation and result in a fast-moving wildland fire. Our dry spring season and recent winds can make even a small fire out of control within mere minutes.
Cunningham added, “In the event of a fire, it is important to call 911 immediately, it is much easier and safer to slow down a firetruck than to extinguish a neighborhood of burning homes.”