(FOX 9) - The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is scaling back restrictions as northern Minnesota sees some rain and fire crews make gains in containing fires burning in the Superior National Forest.
Saying they were moving forward with "cautious optimism", Thursday the Minnesota DNR announced the relaxed restrictions that would take effect starting at midnight Friday morning as recent rain has reduced fire danger risk statewide.
As of Friday, the state will shift to Class 3 restrictions in much of north and central Minnesota, including Beltrami, Becker, Cass, Clearwater, Cook, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Ottertail, St. Louis, and Wadena counties along with the eastern part of Roseau County.
Under the relaxed restrictions:
- No campfires are allowed for dispersed, remote, or backcountry camping on all state, county, or private lands. Camping stoves are permitted.
- Attended campfires in established fire rings associated with a home, cabin, campground, or resort are allowed.
- No fireworks may be ignited on any public or private land outside city limits. People should check with their local community for any additional restrictions.
- Open burning permits are restricted.
- Areas of Closure for state lands on the Gunflint Trail and around the Greenwood Fire remain in place and are not affected by the updated burning restrictions.
At the same time, the state is also lifting burning restrictions in all or part of 19 counties while restrictions are being reduced in 16 other counties.
Fire crews in the Superior National Forest made great gains over the past week as favorable weather allowed them to increase the containment of the fire to 37 percent. Crews have also been able to slow the growth of the fire, keeping it to just more than 26,068 acres as of Thursday.
The U.S. Forest Service says crews are continuing to work to build containment lines as the weather remains moderate. Thursday, crews were focusing on the east side of the wildfire. Nearly 500 firefighters from Minnesota and nearby states remain in northern Minnesota to battle the blaze.
The fire has been burning for two and a half weeks and is believed to have been sparked by a lightning strike.
Fourteen homes and cabins have been destroyed in the wildfire along with 57 outbuildings.