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Cook County under a "Red Flag Warning" for fire weather conditions

Smokey the Bear is pointing out that fire danger is HIGH. Photo by Rhonda Silence
Smokey the Bear is pointing out that fire danger is HIGH. Photo by Rhonda Silence

Although today’s warm weather has been wonderful for wading or even swimming in local lakes and rivers, it is causing extreme fire weather conditions. A “Red Flag Warning” is in effect until 9 p.m. this evening due to low relative humidity and winds of 10 to 15 miles per hour, with gusts up to 25 mph.

The National Weather Service says these conditions are supportive of rapid fire growth.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fire danger map was upgraded today to show Cook County as having high fire danger, which means that fires can start easily and spread at a moderate rate.

There is a 50 percent chance of showers tonight, but those showers could be accompanied by thunder and lightning. Lightning strikes could lead to a fire start unless significant precipitation is received. 

Residents and visitors are reminded that conditions vary greatly throughout the county. Areas away from Lake Superior, at the end of the Gunflint Trail and other inland areas, have not received the amount of precipitation as lower areas.

Burn permits have been suspended, so property owners are asked to compost or chip yard debris or wait until conditions improve before burning anything.

Campfires are not banned at this time, but the authorities urge extreme caution. If you have a campfire, select a level spot a safe distance away from trees, low overhead branches, shrubs, dry grass, or logs to prevent the fire from escaping, and clear all combustibles within 5 feet.

* Have a shovel and water available at the campfire site for extinguishing campfires.
* Supervise the fire at all times. Even a light breeze could cause the fire to spread.
* Extinguish the campfire with water using the "drown and stir" method.

Or better yet, wait for a day with better fire weather conditions to enjoy a fire.

Details on current fire conditions and current burning restrictions can be found on the Minnesota DNR website here.