Campers and off-road riders beware of very high fire danger

Dry conditions mean very high fire danger persists in north-central and northeastern Minnesota. Spring outdoor recreation activity is increasing, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urges outdoor enthusiasts to limit the use of campfires and use caution with off-road vehicles that could spark and start a wildfire.

Northern Minnesota counties remain under open burning restrictions. Minnesota’s wildland fire management agencies report nearly 900 wildland fires have burned more than 32,000 acres since the beginning of March.

While the majority of the wildfire activity has occurred in the dry northwest corner of the state, northeastern counties have experienced their share of spring fire activity.

To date, 225 wildfires have been reported this spring across northeastern Minnesota and in every county except Cook County. The majority of these fires have been human caused.

“With the fishing opener and warmer weather on tap, more people will be out camping and recreating on our public lands. Keeping a keen eye on fire safety will keep you, your fellow recreationists and residents, and our firefighters out of danger,” said Wes Belanger, Forestry supervisor in Deer River. “During very dry conditions like we have now, any fire that starts has the potential to spread and get out of control very quickly.”

Belanger said the area’s lack of rain and continued sub-freezing temperatures are delaying spring green-up, and until it arrives, wildfire danger will continue. He recommends campers follow these tips to avoid accidently starting a wildfire:

  • Never leave a campfire unattended.
  • Keep the fire within a fire ring and clear all flammable materials within 5 feet of the fire.
  • Before leaving, make sure the fire is completely out: drown with water, stir and repeat – until embers are cold.

People who ride off-road are also encouraged to take a few simple precautions to prevent wildfires:

  • Don’t park recreational vehicles, cars or trucks on dry vegetation.
  • Use an approved spark arrester on all internal combustion powered equipment.

For more information and daily updates on current fire risk and open burning restrictions, visit the DNR website: