Wildfire Prevention Week is April 17-23

No Gravatar

In an effort to increase awareness about outdoor fire hazards, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has declared April 17-23 as Wildfire Prevention Week.

“We want to encourage people to make a special effort to control their fires not only this week, but all year long,” said Larry Himanga, DNR wildfire prevention coordinator.

Spring wildfire activity in Minnesota normally begins in the southern portion of the state and moves northward as the snow disappears. Most wildfires occur in the spring, between the time when snow melts and the vegetation turns green.

On average, DNR personnel respond to more than 1,500 wildfires each year. Although the current fire hazard in Minnesota is low to moderate, it quickly can change without adequate spring rain. Visit website for current statewide fire danger information and burning restrictions.

The number one cause of wildfires in Minnesota is escaped debris-burning fires. Himanga encourages landowners to find alternatives to burning, such as chipping or composting. Otherwise, landowners should check burning restrictions in their area, obtain a burning permit, be careful with their debris fires and remember that piled debris can hold hot coals for several days to several months.

Wildfire prevention in Minnesota began after the Great Hinckley Fire of 1894, which killed 418 people and destroyed the town of Hinckley and other small communities. As a result, the 1895 Legislature created the Office of the Chief Fire Warden to organize a statewide system for forest fire suppression. Then, following the 1908 Chisholm Fire, the Legislature authorized the appointment of forest rangers to provide a more effective means of enforcing the fire prevention laws.

The ranger corps was laid off due to lack of funds on Oct. 7, 1910. Six weeks later, a wind-driven fire raged through a landscape littered with logging slash and destroyed the towns of Baudette and Spooner. At least 42 people died.

The 1911 Legislature established the Minnesota Forest Service, a precursor to the DNR Division of Forestry, to fireproof Minnesota. The division has dedicated 100 years to protecting, managing, and educating its citizens about Minnesota’s forests.

To obtain a burning permit, visit website or call a local, state or federal forestry office for more information.

To learn more about the Division of Forestry’s 100th anniversary, visit website.