MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Department of Natural Resources is asking Minnesotans to be extra careful Monday and Tuesday as extremely dry conditions across the state have the potential to start fires.
On Monday, The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Fire Warning for western Minnesota from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., the DNR said. Relative humidity is expected to be 20-30 percent in that area and winds are expected to blow from the north and west at 20-30 mph. Similar conditions are expected Tuesday.
Over the weekend, firefighters responded to many fires, some of which were large enough to require aircraft support, the DNR said. With 96 percent of the state dealing with extreme drought conditions, fires are sparking more frequently than usual. And humans are often involved when sparks fly.
The DNR warned Monday that vehicles and other equipment, such as lawnmowers, weed whackers, and harvesting equipment, have the potential to start fires in extremely dry conditions. For instance, parking over dry grass has the potential to start a fire because the exhaust system can reach up to 1,000 degrees.
As for lawnmowers, sparks can fly when the whirling blades hit rocks. The DNR advises that if you need to mow your lawn, do so on day with higher humidity and in the morning, when it’s more humid and winds are gentle.
To reduce the chance of fires starting, the DNR said you should use a spark arrester on internal combustion equipment, use screens fitted between the your equipments piston exhaust port and the muffler, and use a fire resistant tarp to stop sparks from landing on dry grass.
If you see a fire start, report it immediately, the DNR said.