A brush pile that had evidently been smoldering for weeks, reignited Wednesday afternoon, causing a grassfire at Blueberry Log and Timber’s property, according to the owners.

Lynnette Guida said family members happened to be at the sawmill, located about 10 miles southwest of Park Rapids, when they noticed a flame in a brush pile that was burned several weeks ago when snow still covered the ground. Within minutes, the flames leapt from the pile to a neighboring tree plantation, heading westward. A family member attempted to stomp out the fire with his boots, but winds quickly carried the flames, which grew to four feet tall.

Fortunately, Guida said, the Park Rapids Fire Department responded within 10 minutes. No structures were threatened.

Guida noted that Blueberry Log and Timber was completely destroyed by the Green Valley Fire. Trees were replanted and buildings rebuilt, but some debris still remains from that 2013 fire, she said.

Assisting at the scene were the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Glen Guida, who owns the sawmill, used an old payloader to help crews dismantle any smoldering brush piles.

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Spring burn restrictions

As fire season expands, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is adding counties to its burn restriction list.

As of April 2, burning is restricted to variance permits only in Hubbard County. A variance permit may be obtained for special agricultural, industrial or management circumstances, like a prescribed burn.

“Warm and dry conditions are key factors for wildfires, so we have to remain on alert about restricting open burning,” said Casey McCoy, DNR fire prevention supervisor. “These restrictions really do work. They’ve helped reduce wildfires by more than 30 percent over the past decade.”

McCoy encourages landowners to compost, chip or take brush to a collection site rather than burn it.

People who burn debris will be held financially responsible if their fire escapes and burns other property.

The DNR has added the following counties to the burn restriction list: Anoka, Benton, Carver, Chisago, Clay, Dakota, Dodge, Douglas, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Hennepin, Houston, Isanti, Kanabec, Le Sueur, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Mower, Norman, Olmsted, Otter Tail Pine, Pope, Ramsey, Rice, Scott, Sherburne, Stearns, Steele, Stevens, Todd, Traverse, Wabasha, Washington, Wilkin, Winona and Wright.

The state will not issue burning permits for brush or yard waste in these counties until the restrictions are lifted.

For information and daily updates on current fire risk and open burning restrictions, visit mndnr.gov/burnrestrictions.