A Dry Northland Enters the Fall Fire Season

By KBJR News 1

September 10, 2012 Updated Sep 10, 2012 at 7:26 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northlands NewsCenter)
-- The Northland is entering a dangerous Fall fire season. Low humidity, combined with a lack of rain this summer and gusty winds have fire stations ready to pounce on any blaze big or small.

The Northland has already seen multiple wild land fires this summer. The drought has caused fuels, that generally feed wild land fires, to dry up and when something sparks a fire it can really take off if it's not attacked quickly.

The fire danger signs doesn't lie; the northland is particularly vulnerable to fire right now.

"Things are really dry, we did get a little wetting rain over the weekend which as dry as we are and behind on our rain right now is not enough to do anything," said Joe Frenz, Fire Response Lead with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Smoker chasers, working for the Minnesota DNR, are staffed and ready to do battle.

"When we see this type of weather pattern setting up, we start looking at recalling some of our seasonal fire fighters and staffing for the potential," said DNR's Dan Grindy, outside of the Cloquet Fire Station.

Their opponent is a fierce one; the summer of 2012 was dry and lacked rain.

"The wind will drive it. It makes it much tougher for us to catch a small fire because it becomes big very quickly in this type of wind," said Frenz.

"Leaves start to turn, grasses start to die out, and the dead fuels on the ground are drying out," said Grindy.

Fire officials say the conditions are similar to the Fall of 2011, when the Northland saw one of the biggest wild land fires in is history.

"We are way behind on our rain and the stuff is just getting dry," said Frenz.

If the weather doesn't take a wet turn, fire crews will stay fully staffed until the snow starts to fall. The week ahead looks pretty sunny and it's unlikely there will be rain.

Fire experts stress the use of common sense with fire prevention. Wild land fires can start naturally, but burning debris piles is a much more common way they start. With the upcoming grouse and deer hunting seasons approaching, hot exhaust in tall grass is common as well.

Zach Vavricka

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