By Kate Raddatz

COON RAPIDS, Minn. (WCCO) — Cottonwood is everywhere this time of year. But when the heat and wind come into play, cottonwood seeds can be dangerous.

“The fire department has seen increased calls because what’s happening is this white seed that looks like snow is landing and once it hits a spark… It’s starting a fire,” Coon Rapids firefighter Nick House said.

The city of Coon Rapids has had seven fires related to cottonwood in the last week, that have done damage to parks, yards, homes, and decks. Bloomington firefighters also responded to a fire where someone was trying to get rid of the cottonwood by burning it.

Firefighters created a contained area Sunday to give a demonstration of just how quickly cottonwood burns. This was done after rain came through, and the cottonwood still burned very quickly.

It’s a reminder to take precautions for when you’re out at the bonfire, thinking of tossing a cigarette, or grilling out.

“It’s just lie having sawdust or paper as it’s an accelerant,” House said.

In a Facebook post, the department said they’ve dealt with a handful of fires stemming from the highly combustible cottonwood. They ask residents to be cautious when discarding cigarettes or while handling any other ignition sources.

House says one of the reasons the number of fires could also be going up is there are more videos online of people burning cottonwood—not a smart move as any damage done could lead to fines or charges

Firefighters say you should be following the burning guidelines according to your city. In Coon Rapids, that means you can only use dry burning wood—no brush, yard, or leaves.

Also, obviously water helps lessen its accelerant ability so if there’s been a dry spell with rain, keeping your yard clean with the sprinklers on could also help.

Kate Raddatz