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Fire danger in Hubbard County until green up

The Minnesota DNR has responded to several small fires in recent days. Residents are advised to check the DNR website (www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/firerating_restrictions.html) for updates on burning restrictions.

Fire flames on a white background.
Fires can spread quickly in the spring.
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Fire danger season is here and will remain until vegetation greens up.

Donna Edelman is a dispatcher at the Department of Natural Resources in Park Rapids. She said while there is moisture in the ground from recent rains, dead leaves and grasses that remain from last fall are very dry.

“The number of fires has definitely gone up recently,” she said. “We had our first fire of the spring May 3, and May 4 we’ve had three or four. The ground has moisture in it, but everything above the ground, the dead leaves and grasses, are so flammable right now.”

Edelman said all of these fires were considered small. “Less than half an acre each,” she said.

The May 3 fire was about 14 miles north of Park Rapids. The Park Rapids Fire Department and the DNR responded and the cause of that fire is not known.

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The DNR and the Nevis Fire Department responded to a fire May 4 on Chokecherry Lane. The cause of that fire is also unknown.

A fire May 4 on Cty. Rd. 4 near Pickerel Lake was caused by a squirrel on a power line that started a fire when it died and fell onto the ground below. “That happens quite a bit this time of year,” she said.

The cause of a fire on May 4 near Hubbard is also unknown.

Edelmann said when calls come into 911, they dispatch area fire departments or the DNR or both. The DNR is staffed with five engines. Air support may also be called in for larger fires if needed.

Burning restrictions and permits

Edelman said people should check the DNR website ( https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/firerating_restrictions.html ) for updates on burning restrictions.

“If there are restrictions in place you will probably not be able to get a burning permit,” she said. “If you get a burning permit, make sure you activate it before you start the fire. That puts a dot on our screen, so we know it’s an activated permit and don’t automatically start sending our resources in that direction. Spring restrictions will be going on pretty soon here and stay until green-up occurs.”

Burning permits are available from the DNR and allow burning from 6 p.m. until 8 a.m.

Campfire cautions

Edelman said that while campfires are allowed, it’s important to follow the definition of what a campfire is.

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“The definition of a campfire is no larger than three feet, no wider than three feet and no taller than three feet and contained inside of a ring cleared of all combustible materials five feet around it and used for cooking and warming purposes,” she said.

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Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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