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Wildfire risk increasing across Minnesota

Due to dry conditions throughout the state, the Department of Natural Resources is warning of a heightened risk of wildfires this fall.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn — Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources is cautioning homeowners, woodland owners, farmers and outdoor recreationists of increased risk for wildfires across the state. 

Because of dry weather and drought in southwestern and northeastern Minnesota, the DNR said that residents should monitor statewide fire danger and burning restrictions this fall, as they can fluctuate quickly this time of year.

“Don’t fall for the trap that cooler weather cancels fire danger,” said Casey McCoy, DNR wildfire prevention supervisor, in a press release. “October is historically one of Minnesota’s most active wildfire months.”

In fact, dropping temperatures can contribute to wildfire risk, McCoy said, as following a hard frost, plants stop taking in moisture and begin drying, creating more available fuel. 

Additional factors that can quickly fan fall fire flames include low relative humidity and warm, breezy days.

Fall harvest and hunting seasons also increase the risk of fires. Heat and sparks from farm implements and other equipment can be fire-starting sources, as can escaped campfires in the woods and vehicles parked over tall grass.

McCoy also encourages homeowners and woodland owners to find alternatives to burning leaves and piles of wood debris. 

“Composting or hauling brush to a collection site are the best options,” McCoy said. “Fall colors shouldn’t include a wildfire’s burnt orange.”

If considering an open burn, the DNR said Minnesotans should obtain a burning permit and always check the fire danger.

Daily updates on current fire risk and open burning restrictions can be found on the DNR website.