DNR preps early for springtime wildfires

Fire flare-up
Firefighters with the Park Rapids Fire Department take care of a flare-up along U.S. Highway 71, north of Menahga, Minn., in May 2013.
Tom Robertson | MPR News

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is preparing itself for the possibility of springtime wildfires in the Twin Cities metro area.

"We're expecting that we'll start having fires in that north metro area probably over the next few days," said Ron Stoffel, a wildfire suppression supervisor for the agency. "We've had a few in the last few days; nothing real substantial."

The DNR expects the wildfire threat — they've already seen a few small wildfires in the north metro area this season — to move northward across the state over the next few weeks.

Very dry soil conditions and little snowfall in much of the state have officials anticipating a busier and perhaps longer-than-normal spring fire season.

"When we have an open winter like this where we have little snow, the grass is standing up," Stossel said. "Then, when fires get started in grass, they go through it much quicker and will spread much faster and they burn quite a bit hotter."

The DNR maintains two firefighting aircraft in Princeton, about 50 miles north of Minneapolis, and Stoffel said they are being activated about a week earlier this year than usual.

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