Grass fires keep sirens and crews going
Firefighers are hoping to make it through the weekend without the countryside burning.
Days of red flag warnings, tinder dry conditions and gale force winds have made each spark a cause for concern.
The fire danger is very high to extreme right now," said Brad Witkin, DNR fire program forester.
Wednesday two grass fires were reported, one near Two Inlets that burned eight acres and a hay loft and another near Nevis that burned a tenth of an acre.
The Two Inlets fire briefly re-ignited in high winds Thursday.
"It was threatening structures but pretty much the wind took it the other way," assistant Park Rapids Fire Chief Terry Long said of the Wednesday fire reported around 4:15 p.m. "It went across the field through some tall weeds. The DNR helicopter got it stopped before it hit the treeline.
Witkin said the helicopter is stationed at the Park Rapids airport for the time being. DNR firefighters and Carsonville firefighters all converged on the Wednesday blaze that claimed a hayloft and some hay.
State extension service officials also offered a warning to farmers.
"For farmers, combine or field fires can result not only in loss of valuable equipment and crop, but also loss of human life, livestock, homes and other property," a news release said.
Farmers were urged to keep equipment clean, maintain the exhaust systems of farm equipment and watch for worn belts, bearings and chains.
Farmers are also urged to carry fire extinguishers with them, one in the cab of the tractor, and one accessible near the ground.
And cell phones in the field are a necessity, said Liz Stahl, crops educator with the University of Minnesota Extension office.
"With many windy harvest days still ahead of us, this issue isn't likely to go away fast," she said.
"We hope to get through the week," Witkin said. "Everybody's stretched kind of thin with other things going on and with these winds a little mistake that somebody makes can grow pretty quick."
Weekend campfires will be severely limited, so campers should check with the park before lighting a match.