DNR to restrict debris burning in Beltrami, other northern counties
BEMIDJI -- Dry and windy conditions have increased the fire danger for the Bemidji area, and much of north-central and northwest Minnesota.
Starting Monday, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will restrict debris burning in 11 northern counties, including Beltrami County. As snow continues to melt, what is left behind is a lot of dead grass and brush that can easily light up and spread quickly, fire officials said.
As of Tuesday, the DNR’s Fire Danger map had much of Beltrami and Cass counties and all of Clearwater County listed in the High Danger category, which is when fires can start easily and spread at a rapid rate. Many of the surrounding areas and counties were listed in the Moderate Danger category.
Already, Bemidji area firefighters have been busy. The Bemidji Fire Department has averaged about one grassfire call a day as drier conditions settled over the area, said Capt. Justin Sherwood of the Bemidji Fire Department.
Debris burning restrictions mean the state will not give out permits to burn brush or yard waste, according to a DNR release. Other counties starting burning restrictions Monday are Carlton, northern Cass, Itasca, Kittson, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Pennington, Roseau and southern St. Louis.
Hubbard, Clearwater and Mahnomen and southern Cass counties implemented burning restrictions this past Monday.
Debris burning is especially dangerous in April and May when most wildfires occur in Minnesota, the DNR said. Restrictions normally last four to six weeks until sufficient green vegetative growth occurs.
The restrictions are not total burning bans. Recreational fires and campfires are still permitted, but residents need to take caution, officials said. People should only burn larger logs and not grass, branches, twigs and other brush or debris, Sherwood said.
People need to make sure the area around the fire is clear, and they should also have something near to put out the fire, such as a fire extinguisher, even a hose or a bucket of water, Sherwood said.
People also need to be aware of the weather and current fire danger conditions.
“It is really using common sense -- if it is too windy, don’t burn,” Sherwood said.
Weather and fire conditions can change quickly, often daily, Sherwood added. The Bemidji Fire Department works in conjunction with the DNR to monitor fire conditions and implement burning bans when needed. The DNR’s fire conditions information and map can be found online at www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/firerating_restrictions.html
You can also check with Bemidji Fire Department by calling (218) 751-8001 and you can find the department on Facebook, as well.