Rhonda Silence

Forest Service and DNR warn of high fire danger

With fire danger increasing, campers and day use visitors to state and national forests on the North Shore should be extra vigilant when building and extinguishing campfires. Permits for burning yard debris have been suspended.

This afternoon, June 26, the US Forest Service issued a news release noting that the current drought conditions are similar to the high fire years of 2006 and 2011–which was the year of the Pagami fire. With the continued lack of moisture and increase in temperatures, there is the potential for any escaped fire to spread rapidly, especially on windy days.

The Forest Service states that it wants visitors to enjoy a campfire, gooey s’mores, and a night sky full of stars, but they ask that the public follow these steps for minimizing those risks:

  • Think before you strike. Check for burning restrictions and monitor for extreme fire behavior signs, i.e. high winds and temperatures.
  • Use the provided fire rings at dispersed campsites and established fire grates at Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) campsites.
  • Select a level spot a safe distance away from trees, low overhead branches, shrubs, dry grass, or logs to prevent the fire from escaping. Clear all flammable material within 5 feet.
  • Have a shovel and water available at the campfire site for extinguishing campfires.
  • Supervise the fire at all times. Do no leave your fire unattended. Even a light breeze could cause the fire to spread.
  • Extinguish the campfire with water using the “drown and stir” method, make sure it is cold to the touch before leaving the area.
  • Limit fires to night-time hours on hot, dry windy days.

In addition, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Forester and Firefighter Aaron Mielke tells WTIP that as the 4th of July approaches, many people are setting off fireworks, which is a frequent cause of fires. Mielke reminds community members and visitors that in addition to being a fire hazard, aerial fireworks are illegal in Minnesota.

For details regarding current fire conditions on Minnesota national forests, visit the Minnesota Incident Command System website.

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

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence spoke with DNR’s Aaron Mielke about the drought conditions in the northland.