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County at record fire danger levels


Campfire restrictions remain in effect throughout the Superior National Forest.
Gunflint District Ranger Dennis Neitzke reports that open campfires will not be allowed in the National Forest, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The Department of Natural Resources has tightened campfire restrictions on all state lands. Campfires will not be allowed at non-designated campsites and other remote locations. This will impact shore lunches, dispersed campsites, day hikes, and backpacking trips on both state and federal lands.

Neitzke told Cook County Commissioners Tuesday the Forest was at Level Three danger. If conditions worsen, the level could be raised to Four, in which case no open fires at all would be permitted. He said current conditions are at record dryness levels -- exceeding danger level records set in 2007 at the time of the Ham Lake Fire.
The county has the statutory option to impose stricter fire regulations than those imposed by the state or federal government, if the county believes conditions to be more severe locally. According to Commissioner Bob Fenwick, that option has been exercised in the past. Neitzke and Sheriff Mark Falk agreed that a single warm front with wind could push conditions to Level Four.
Campfires are still permitted in designated fire receptacles at residences, dwellings, campgrounds, and resorts if they are no larger than 3 feet in diameter and 3 feet in height. Gas and propane stoves are also allowed. In addition, fireworks are prohibited outside municipalities due to their volatile explosive nature. In addition, State Fire Wardens are not issuing burning permits.