National Weather Service warns of high fire risk across Minnesota; burn bans issued

The National Weather Service (NWS) has declared elevated fire weather conditions and strong winds along and west of the I-35 corridor through Wednesday evening.

People should be aware that any fires started intentionally or otherwise could spread quickly and become uncontrollable. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says strong winds, warm temperatures and minimal humidity levels are ideal conditions for wildfires.

Among the counties included in the NWS alert are Benton, Blue Earth, Brown, Carver, Chippewa, Douglas, Faribault, Freeborn, Hennepin, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Le Sueur, Martin, McLeod, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Nicollet, Pope, Redwood, Renville, Rice, Scott, Sherburne, Sibley, Stearns, Steele, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Waseca, Watonwan, Wright and Yellow Medicine.

Due to the conditions, the DNR has implemented burn restrictions in the following counties:

Aitkin, Anoka, Becker, Beltrami, Benton, Big Stone, Blue Earth, Brown, Carlton, Carver, Cass, Chippewa, Chisago, Clay, Clearwater, Cottonwood, Crow Wing, Dakota, Dodge, Douglas, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Grant, Hennepin, Houston, Hubbard, Isanti, Itasca, Jackson, Kanabec, Kandiyohi, Kittson, Koochiching, Lac Qui Parle, Lake of the Woods, Le Sueur, Lincoln, Lyon, Mahnomen, Marshall, Martin, McLeod, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Norman, Olmstead, Otter Tail, Pennington, Pine, Pipestone, Polk, Pope, Ramsey, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, Rice, Rock, Roseau, Scott, Sherburne, Sibley, Southern St. Louis, Stearns, Steele, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Traverse, Wabasha, Wadena, Waseca, Washington, Watonwan, Wilkin, Winona, Wright and Yellow Medicine.

In those listed counties, the DNR says it won’t issue burn permits until the restrictions are lifted.

“Extreme drought conditions in combination with dry fall vegetation, low humidity, and wind make for dangerous fire conditions,” Allissa Reynolds, a DNR wildfire prevention supervisor, said. “Restricting open burning prevents a burn pile from escaping and becoming a wildfire.”

A new drought report is expected to be published Thursday morning. Last week’s report showed more than 78% of Minnesota had abnormally dry conditions or worse, with 4.2% seeing extreme drought conditions.

For updates, visit the DNR’s statewide fire danger map, which is posted daily.’

CLICK HERE for the latest 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS forecast, which calls for some rain at the end of the work week and into the weekend.