Burning restrictions have taken effect in 25 Minnesota counties to prevent dry, dead vegetation from igniting and causing wildfires.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Monday implemented the burning restrictions for Aitkin, Anoka, Benton, Cass, Crow Wing, Chisago, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Hubbard, Isanti, Itasca, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Ramsey, Scott, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, Washington and Wright counties, and the south half of Beltrami County.
Larry Himanga, the DNR forestry division's wildfire prevention coordinator, said warm, dry weather in March prompted officials to put the burning restrictions in place earlier than usual.
"The conditions are such that we don't feel burning is safe," Himanga said. "The snow melted fast and gave us concerns about flooding, and it gave us concerns about wildfire where it wasn't flooded."
Himanga said burning restrictions will likely stay in place for about four weeks, or until new green grass begins to replace the dead grass.
"Once that happens the fuels don't ignite as easily and the fires don't spread as quickly," he said.
For now, people who want to burn debris should find alternatives, such as composting or chipping, he said.
Burning restrictions will take effect in 21 other counties April 5. They include Becker, Beltrami, Carlton, Clearwater, Cook, Douglas, Grant, Kittson, Koochiching, Lake, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Ottertail, Pennington, Polk, Pope, Red Lake, Roseau, Stevens, and St Louis.