Area firefighters hauled about 19,000 gallons of water late Sunday and early Monday as they fought off a fire outside of a small sawmill.
Crews from the Bemidji Fire Department and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources responded to the fire reported at 11:18 p.m. Sunday in the 15100 block of Gull Lake Road Northeast. They were on scene until about 2:30 a.m.
Bemidji Fire Chief Dave Hoefer said the fire was contained to a large pile of tree bark outside of the sawmill.
The DNR responded with a bulldozer, which spread out the debris to keep it from smoldering, Hoefer said.
Eighteen Bemidji firefighters responded with two fire engines, two tankers and support vehicles. Hoefer said the department used a dry hydrant at the river that runs under Gull Lake Loop to haul about 19,000 gallons of water.
"We were hyper cautious," he said of the department's response. "We don't want to take any chances."
The very-dry conditions in the area placed in effect a burning ban this past weekend. Even with the humidity at night, Hoefer said, the landscape is drying out by the afternoons.
Hoefer said he didn't know for certain what started Sunday night's fire but speculated that the dry, windy conditions probably played a role.
He said there appeared to be a section that had been burned previously, perhaps in a wintertime burning. It is possible, he said, that a small section has been smoldering for months. All it takes sometimes, he said, is a warm, dry and windy day like Sunday to get it to catch.