Wildfire danger high in northwestern Minnesota: DNR urges people to use caution when operating farm equipment
Exceptionally dry conditions in the northwest part of the state have contributed to several small fires over the past week. To prevent a possible wildfire, the Department of Natural Resources urges extreme caution when using farm equipment right now.
To reduce the chances of starting a wildfire when working in the field, follow these steps:
- Make sure machinery is well maintained and working properly to prevent overheating and the formation of sparks.
- When cutting or mowing, be aware of rocks that may cause sparks if struck by mower blades.
- Check that all fire extinguishers are appropriate for the size of the machinery, are fully charged, and are easily accessible.
- Carry an ABC rated fire extinguisher – it can be used for electrical and petroleum-based fires originating on the tractor and for vegetative fires.
- Check and remove combustible vegetation from motors, exhausts, ledges and brackets several times a day.
- Remove debris from the surface of the baler using a portable gas-powered leaf blower.
- Keep hay in groups of 10 bales or fewer and at least 100 feet away from structures or other ignition sources.
- Firebreaks – 30 feet of mowed grass, bare ground, or rock between bale groups – will help prevent fire from extending to additional bales.
- Frequently check to see if stored hay is hot or has internal fire (noted by a caramel or strong burning odor, visible vapor or smoke, strong musty smell, or all of the above).
- Do not move overheated or smoldering hay.
- Immediately call 911 if fire occurs and provide clear directions to your location.
- Check the weather – avoid running equipment on days with warm temperatures, high winds, and low humidity.
- Plan your day – take advantage of mornings and evenings that tend to have calmer winds, cooler temperatures, and higher humidity.
Find more information about fire danger at mndnr.gov/burnrestrictions.