Risk of equipment-caused wildfire increases during Minnesota drought conditions

Heat and sparks from farm machinery and heavy equipment can ignite wildfires, as can vehicles parked over tall grass.

EP Agriculture
We are part of The Trust Project.

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — Drought conditions in central and southern Minnesota are drying vegetation. With these dry conditions comes an increase in wildfire risk. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is urging operators of heavy or agricultural equipment and off-road vehicles to exercise caution near dry vegetation.

Heat and sparks from farm machinery and heavy equipment can ignite wildfires, as can vehicles parked over tall grass. Exhaust systems on both road and recreation vehicles can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees during operation, and farm equipment can create sparks by hitting rocks or hard surfaces. It only takes one spark to turn harvest season into wildfire season.

“Don’t believe that cooler fall weather cancels out fire danger,” Karen Harrison, DNR wildfire prevention specialist, said in a press release. “October is historically a high-risk month for wildfires in Minnesota because vegetation is drying and many outdoor activities are underway — such as crop harvesting and hunting — that could result in a wildfire if care is not taken.”

The DNR encourages the following strategies to keep equipment from turning into fire starters:

  • Avoid driving over and parking on tall dry grass. Heat from a vehicle’s exhaust can easily ignite dry vegetation.
  • Make sure equipment is maintained and fire safe, and that all internal combustion-powered equipment has an approved spark arrester.
  • Keep trailer chains from dragging, which can create sparks on roads.
  • Always check current fire danger conditions on the DNR statewide fire danger and burning restrictions map ( ) and adjust or postpone activity as needed.
Related Topics: WEATHER
Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "staff." Often, the "staff" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.
What to read next
Jorden Nicole Borders, 32, of Crosslake, Minnesota, is expected to agree to the termination of her parental rights in a Friday court hearing.
Minnesota often tops lists for most expensive child care in the U.S. Areas outside the Twin Cities metro lost more than 20,000 child care slots between 2000 and 2020.
THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. — A Thief River Falls couple and owners of Harlan's Boats R Us have been charged with multiple tax crimes.
Eighteen miles northwest of Bemidji, in the backwoods of Buzzle Township, is Pinewood — once an operative logging camp filled with lumberjacks and early settlers. Throughout its history, this once lively community has become a place of unsolved mysteries, two bank robberies, a bizarre train derailment and multiple wildfires.