MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A fast-moving grass fire hurt a man trying to burn a pile of leaves in Andover Friday morning.

And another fire got away from a homeowner in Inver Grove Heights Friday afternoon.

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Flames blackened several acres of grassland, and two firefighters needed to get checked for dehydration.

The wind and dry conditions of early spring sure aren’t helping.

“This is kind of the unsafe period when we don’t want to see a lot of burning,” said Linda Gormanson, a wildlife prevention supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Dry conditions, mixed with a high and steady wind, can mean trouble for anyone who tries to burn anything.

“We’re kind of in that season where we don’t have much moisture in the vegetation so that’s dry, and then we’re getting warm temperatures and winds,” Gormanson said.

The aftermath of a grass fire (credit: CBS)

These conditions played a role in two recent grass fires. One in East Bethel spread quickly because of high winds. The city called in reinforcements to keep the fire from spreading to buildings.

A man in Andover who was trying to burn lawn debris was hurt when high winds helped spread the fire.

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“Our number-one cause of fires in the state are human caused, and that’s usually debris burning,” Gormanson said.

She says the DNR is seeing an increase in the number of grass fires across the state.

“We’re getting more reports from here, you know, up to the northern part of the state, picking up more and more fires,” she said.

Gormanson says most wildfires happen in April and May in Minnesota, which is why most of the state has been under burning restrictions since last week.

During spring restrictions, the state will not give out burning permits for burning brush or yard waste.

“Restrictions will come off at some point once we hit green-up, and then those will be safer times to burn,” Gormanson said.

Restrictions will relax in four to six weeks. Until then, Gormanson says people should use alternatives to burning, such as composting or hauling brush to a collection site.

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Burning restrictions do not apply to campfires, but experts say use common sense before burning anything.

Reg Chapman