St. Paul, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- Minnesota DNR officials are warning residents and visitors across the state of an intensifying wildfire threat that is expected to expand in the coming days.
Due to the recent hot, dry and windy weather, the DNR has had to increase the fire danger to extreme in far northwestern Minnesota and to very high or high in much of northern Minnesota.
Officials believe that the fire danger will spread into central and southern Minnesota later this week if the hot, dry weather continues across the state.
A Fire Weather Watch is in effect for southern Minnesota on Thursday, with the possibility of going to a Red Flag Warning.
Because of the current high fire danger, the DNR is expanding available support resources, including firefighting aircraft and heavy equipment.
The DNR Forestry Division is restricting burning permits in dry areas of the state this week. To find out if your area is in the restricted burning area, you can log onto the MN DNR Burning Restrictions website.
After 13 months of drought in northwestern Minnesota, wildfire conditions are challenging, according to DNR officials.
Fire managers have reported intense fire behavior, including willow brush torching with 30-foot flames and crown fires burning through the tops of aspen stands.
Fires are spreading quickly through both green and cured grasses. Peat in ground deposits and organic soils are igniting quickly and burning deep into the ground, an indication of extremely dry conditions.
As people head to the lakes and woods for Labor Day weekend, fire managers urge them to use caution by keeping campfires small – no more than three feet high by three feet across.
People are advised to clear vegetation from around campfires, keep water available, attend the fire at all times, and make certain the fire is cold to the touch before leaving.
Failure to fully extinguish campfires, a common cause of wildfires, can result in the responsible individuals paying for thousands of dollars in suppression costs.