Minnesota’s dry conditions increasing wildfire potential for December

The risk of wildfires is likely to increase throughout the next week due to the lack of snow, unusually warm weather and dry conditions across Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) warns. 

In a press release on Wednesday, the DNR encouraged Minnesotans to "use caution and stay aware of wildfire risk," noting "dry, brown grasses and vegetation mean wildfires can start easily and spread quickly." 

The risk for wildfires will continue until Minnesota has continuous snow cover, the DNR states.

"Don’t be fooled because it’s December. Even with some scattered snow showers, burning vegetative debris is risky right now, especially with temperature increases and windy conditions predicted over the next week," Karen Harrison, DNR Wildfire Prevention Specialist, said in a statement. "We are asking people to consider delaying any planned burning until conditions improve."

Dry conditions and gusty winds fed four wildfires that burned more than 500 acres in four hours in Blaine on Wednesday. A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources helicopter dropped water on a fire east of Hwy. 65. Authorities suspect arson in the f

Any fires that do start have the potential to "burn deep into the unusually dry organic soil layer" due to drought conditions that have persisted over the past few years, the DNR notes. These deep-burning fires can hold heat for days, or even months, and could lead to wildfires. 

The DNR recommends waiting to burn brush and vegetation debris until there's at least 3 inches of snow cover on the ground or consider composting, chipping or bringing brush to a collection site instead of burning.  

The DNR does require burning permits for burning leaves, branches and woody material in piles larger than 3 feet high by 3 feet wide until there is at least 3 inches of continuous snow cover. You can check the current conditions on the DNR's website