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Burning permits now required

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Winter is usually a time of low fire danger in Minnesota, but this winter is different, with snow drought in most of the state. Fuels such as grasses and brush, which are usually covered with snow, are freeze-dried and available to burn this winter. Because of these conditions, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is asking people to be careful with fire, to check previous fires for possible rekindling, and make sure they get a burning permit before burning vegetation.

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On Monday, Dec. 26, 750 acres burned near the northwestern Minnesota city of Gully, in Polk County. The fire burned rapidly through wooded areas due to dry fuels and high winds. That fire is now contained, and firefighters are mopping up heavy fuels today. Fighting fires in the winter is difficult, however. Due to cold weather and low wind chill temperatures, firefighter frostbite and freezing pumps are concerns.

Burning restrictions will change as weather conditions and snow cover change. Burning permits are required whenever there is less than three inches of continuous snow surrounding a planned burn area. Right now, with the exception of Cook County in northeastern Minnesota, burning permits are needed for debris and vegetation burning. Permitted burning hours vary by geographical area. Campfires are allowed without burning permits.

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