DNR urges caution amid 2nd red flag fire warning - KMSP-TV

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DNR urges caution amid 2nd red flag fire warning

Posted: Updated:
Fire in Columbus, Minn. Fire in Columbus, Minn.

Now that the National Weather Service has declared another red flag fire warning , the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is urging people to use caution outdoors because of the extreme fire danger in many parts of the state.

The warning is in effect from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. for western Minnesota, where the humidity is expected to be at 20 to 30 percent. Winds in the area are coming from the northwest at 20 to 30 miles an hour, though gusts of up to 35 miles per hour are expected.

Similar conditions are forecasted for Tuesday.


JUMP TO: Tips to reduce fire risks


The DNR recommends residents ensure their outdoor equipment is in good working order. Officials also recommend making sure a fire extinguisher, firefighting equipment and water are readily available.

Over the weekend, car mufflers and lawn mowers sparked fires in the northern part of the state. Several of those fires were so large they required support from aircraft and several will require extended mop up.

Minnesota has had an extremely dry autumn, with September going down in the record books as the driest in over 130 years.

Currently, more than 96 percent of the state is under dry to extreme drought conditions, and the incidence of fire starts have been higher than average.

"We're in an extreme drought this year, and this is very abnormal," said Rebecca Barnard, of the DNR.

Barnard told FOX 9 News that there are usually about 30 fires that burn an estimated 130 acres each September; however, at least 117 fires scorched over 900 acres this year.

The red flag warnings themselves are also rare. Generally, only four or five are issued each year. Last month, Minnesota saw two days where red flag warnings were in effect.

 

Tips to decrease fire risks

Parking or driving on dry plants can pose a fire risk because the exhaust systems on vehicles can reach temperatures above 1,000 degrees, and only about 500 degrees are needed to start a fire.

  • Use a spark arrester on all internal combustion equipment
  • Use screens fitted between the exhaust port of the piston and the muffler
  • Use a fire-resistant tarp or blanket to cover dry vegetation

The following equipment can also spark fires:

  • Chain saws
  • Weed eaters
  • Lawn mowers
  • Welders
  • Grinders
  • Bulldozers
  • Off-road vehicles
  • Combines
  • Shredders
  • Logging equipment
  • Road graders


Officials recommend mowing lawns on days with higher humidity or during the morning when winds are low and humidity is still high.

  • Monitor the ground to avoid hitting rocks with lawnmower blades
  • Ensure the slip clutch does not get warm enough to spark

 

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