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Conditions still ripe for grass fires

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

BEMIDJI —A spark or a hot muffler.

That’s all it takes in these dry conditions to ignite a grass fire. On Friday, it was a spark caused by people cutting scrap metal on Lakeview Drive that started a grass fire, prompting a response from the Bemidji Fire Department and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

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Thursday night, a similar scene played out on Rodeo Drive in Northern Township.

“We’re still seeing some very dry conditions in our area,” Bemidji fire Chief Dave Hoefer said Friday. “Today, now with the lower humidities, the winds picking up, we’re anticipating some more fire activity.”

He said until the vegetation becomes greener, as the result of warmer weather and more precipitation, conditions will remain dry.

“Fires are burning a little bit faster, moving a little bit quicker and are definitely hotter than what they were a week ago,” Hoefer said.

The DNR and the Bemidji Fire Department suspended burning permits on Friday, Hoefer said, and most likely will Saturday due to high winds. Seasonal burning restrictions go into effect Monday.

Much of Beltrami County remains in severe or moderate drought conditions, according to the latest report from U.S. Drought Monitor. Southern Beltrami County is abnormally dry, the lowest condition rating.

“(People) just have to have a heightened sense of awareness that we’re in the spring fire season and things are very dry even though we had snow on the ground two weeks ago,” Hoefer said. 

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