Dry conditions, wind spur another MN campfire ban
With dry conditions persisting throughout much of Minnesota, wildfire agencies have restricted open burning throughout the state.
Beginning midnight Oct. 6, by order of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Tom Landwehr, open burning will be allowed only for special exceptions by the county, state or federal agency having permitting responsibilities.
Recreational or campfires will only be allowed in a designated fire receptacle designed for such use, provided it is associated with a residence, dwelling, campground or resort.
"The decision to restrict burning is not taken lightly," said Larry Himanga, DNR wildfire prevention coordinator. "Conditions in the state have created a situation where an ignition source could result in extensive damage or injury."
Individual park managers may choose to restrict campfires if they feel campfires are unsafe.
The lack of early fall rains, combined with above normal temperatures and brisk winds, have created conditions more favorable to fires. The lack of precipitation allowed fuels to dry out, making them more susceptible to ignition and increasing the ability of fires to spread.
Fire behavior analysts consider several variables when predicting fire danger. The obvious factors like temperature, humidity and wind speed are evaluated along with less obvious factors like the types of fuel available, moisture content of the fuels, the soil moisture and potential for future precipitation. Several stations within Minnesota measure fuel moisture each day. Recent measurements show that many areas in Minnesota have fuel moistures of less than 20 percent. Low moisture level in large fuels increases the potential for fires to spread.
"After the fire is controlled, firefighters must spend additional time 'mopping up' the fire to make sure it doesn't restart," Himanga said. "When the large fuels ignite, they require extensive time to extinguish and make sure they won't rekindle later."
Restrictions will remain in place for the foreseeable future. Firefighters caution everyone to be extra careful with their outdoor activities. Even recreational or campfires within receptacles and approved burn barrels have the potential to ignite nearby fuels.
"Stay with your fire, and have water handy as well as a means of dispensing it," Himanga said. "We want to protect our resources."