MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Much of the state is under the threat of extreme fire danger Tuesday. In fact late this afternoon, a fire broke out just southeast of Hastings in a cornfield.

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Several fire departments were called in to help put the fire out.

It’s easy to understand why when you see the dry and dangerous conditions all across the state.

In what’s usually a “silent” sand dune forest, there’s nothing but “noise” with every step Bob Quady takes.

Leaves crunch and the dry grass can be heard from anyone that walks through the area. It hasn’t been this dry in 25 years. Today the fire danger is “extreme.”

“It starts in this light, fuels and it moves through here pretty quickly with the types of winds that we have today,” said Quady, of the DNR Forestry.

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He’s seen it happen a year ago.

The Pagami Creek Fire burned 10s of thousands of acres of the arrowhead region. Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area burned for more than a month. It was started by lightning.

The Department of Natural Resources rates the fire danger “extreme” in a majority of the state. “Extreme” means the danger is explosive, and can result in extensive property damage.

Humans cause nearly every wildfire in Minnesota. Some fires with a pile of debris are not watched closely. Sparks from a car muffler can do the trick. So can sparks from a lawnmower and other machinery.

“You get some winds and it can carry it 20 to 30 feet away from that pile,” Quady said. “When you get really dry, and you get these fine grass fuels, it can take almost no heat to get it going.”

He suggests using common sense through this wild fire season, one of the driest on memory. The danger won’t be over,
and silence won’t return until Minnesota gets much-needed moisture.

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No burning permits are being given out in the most of the state and campfires are being restricted in the boundary waters, too. The only other way wildfires start is by a lightning strike.