By Marielle Mohs

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Most of Minnesota, including the Metro, is under a high-risk fire warning.

Minnesota DNR says about 82% of the state is experiencing drought and dry conditions right now. The north-central part of the state is experiencing severe drought conditions and is under a campfire ban because of high fire risk.

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The rest of the state can have campfires and grill, but the DNR is asking people to be extra careful and put out the flames when you’re done.

“We got 3 racks of pork ribs,” says Tom Oelfke, as he shows us his smoker that he’s using with his family at Lake Elmo Campgrounds this 4th of July weekend. They’re taking their grilling very seriously, as well as safety around protecting the campgrounds.

“We do have water, so if anything does happen, we’re going to be all hands on deck trying to keep it contained because it is windy and it’s very dry,” said Oelfke.

After a year of being stuck at home, people are desperate to get outside in the woods this summer. The Lake Elmo campground is nearly sold out for the holiday weekend.

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“We made the reservation a year ago,” said Rob Madden, who was lucky enough to snag a campsite with his wife, Tammi, for the weekend.

“We’re going to do some grilling, of course, and have a campfire at night,” said Madden.

They’ll be using heat a lot this weekend, but they’re prepared. The Lake Elmo campsites each have a connection to city water. The couple fills a bucket of water before starting their nightly bonfires. Rob is an Eagle Scout and shared some tips for keeping bonfires under control.

“Keep it under control, keep it small if you can, make sure there’s nothing in the fire that could come out the fire, so make sure you don’t put any paper that’s going to come out and blow out and set off anything else,” said Madden.

Fireworks are not permitted in state parks or public land, but if you do light any fireworks this weekend at home, make sure to throw the remnants in a bucket of water before throwing them.

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The DNR says the dry conditions have already led to more wildfires than usual. Since March, more than 14,000 fires have burned nearly 55 square miles across the state.

Marielle Mohs