Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Fires flare across the state

Grand Rapids — Fire fighters stayed busy last weekend when a
spell of hot, dry weather led to over 300 wildfires. Two homes were
lost in Hibbing and one in Monticello due to the flames. A forest
plantation was lost in northwestern Minnesota.

DNR fire information officer Jean Bergerson said most of the
blazes were grass fires, because the heavier fuels were still
moist.

Although there were fires in the metro area, most occurred north
of Brainerd.

All available aircraft were fighting fires last Saturday,
including the DNR’s two CL 215s made by Bombardier. These planes
fly just above the surface of lakes and scoop up water. Two
conventional tanker aircraft from the U.S. Forest Service were also
in the air.

On Sunday, the National Guard helicopters were activated to
battle two fires near Brainerd. This is only the second time
National Guard aircraft was used to fight fires.

Scattered rain fall occurred during the week, but likely will
provide only temporary relief. Crews are preparing for the fire
season in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, where forest areas blown
down in a 1999 windstorm could fuel a major blaze. In that part of
the state, snow has just melted.

So far this year, nearly 700 fires have burned about 17,000
acres. Bergerson said this is on par with an average spring fire
season.

What is different this year is that the fires occurred in a
relatively short time due to a delayed spring and unusually wet
weather in April.

To prepare for possible forest fires in the Boundary Waters, one
of the DNR’s CL 215s is being stationed in Hibbing. The U.S. Forest
Service will also keep an air tanker stationed in northern
Minnesota through the summer.

Presently, no burning permits are being issued in the state,
which is typical for this time of year. Although the start spring
was delayed, Bergerson said that spring green-up seems to be
arriving at an average time. Fire danger typically lessens once new
foliage appears.

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