MNICS: Over 500 wildland fires across Minnesota, 20K acres burned since start of March

More than 500 wildland fires have been reported since the beginning of March in Minnesota, burning nearly 20,000 acres.

The Minnesota Incident Command System said the increase in spring wildfire activity is happening in the driest parts of the state, with grasses and marshland mostly affected and forested areas also a concern in northwest Minnesota.

MNICS said wildland firefighters and aircraft that can drop water and fire retardant are responding to the fires and will continue to respond as more pop up.

Additionally, MNICS asked people flying drones to keep them grounded and away from fires as crews battle the flames. Drones may be restricted within five miles of a wildland fire and can pose serious risks to aircraft.

"While most drone pilots know the regulations and the importance of not flying near wildfires, drone incursions continue to happen in Minnesota," said Leanne Langeberg, public information officer with the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center. "One incursion is too many. We can’t risk the distraction. When you fly, we can’t."