Grass and ground fires have been breaking out around the Twin Cities today in the wake of recent hot dry weather.
Wind gusts as high as 50 mph have been reported in southern Minnesota, and blowing dust has reduced visibility to as low as a half-mile in some places.
State officials have issued a red flag fire warning for east central parts of the state, including much of the Twin Cities and north as far as Aitkin.
"There's been a long dry spell for the metro area in particular, that's where we're looking at right now as far as fire danger," said Doug Miedtke with the state's Fire Information Center in Grand Rapids. "You know, a fairly dry winter, coming into spring and missing out on a lot of rainstorms down there. And even though the vegetation is greening up, there's still a lot of dead fuel mixed in with all that green that will carry a fire just fine when the conditions are dry enough."
Officials say Minnesotans should take extra precautions to keep fires from starting because of the potential for flames to spread very quickly.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.