Dry conditions spark field fire

Published 10:21am Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A cornfield fire erupted near Lansing at about 11:05 a.m. Tuesday as near-record temperature, high winds and dry weather created hazardous conditions.

The Austin Fire Department and local firefighters extinguished the blaze after about 15 minutes, according to firefighter Tim Olson, and damage was contained to about two to three acres. Firefighters remained on scene well into the afternoon, however, to monitor the field.

A combine reportedly caused the fire just west of Lansing on County Highway 2 while farmers were picking corn; however, nobody was injured, and damage was limited to the front end of the combine.

A county-wide burning ban was issued for all of Mower County on Tuesday and is still in effect for today. Mower County Chief Deputy Mark May said with more rain, the ban may be lifted on Thursday.

While conditions were right for fires on Tuesday, a projected 0.2 to 0.4 inches of rainfall among highs in the 60s and cloud cover may cancel out that threat in coming days.

“There is just no criteria for it,” said Tom Stangeland of the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wis.

Red flag fire warnings issued on Tuesday by the NWS have already been lifted. While Austin reached 91 degrees at the airport on Tuesday, it missed the 92-degree record for Sept. 11 set in 2000. Stangeland was unaware of any records set in the region on Tuesday, as well. The NWS forecasts temperatures in the high 60s and low 70s for the next week with a slight chance of rain this Thursday.

The NWS officials said the 95 degree reading at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Tuesday was one degree shy of the record set in 1931. The heat and gusty winds created a potential fire hazard in much of the state.

Firefighters continue to battle a blaze in northern Minnesota east of Red Lake. Minnesota Interagency Fire Center spokeswoman Jean Goad says the fire has burned about 175 acres so far. Goad expected the fire to be under control in the next several days.

Temperatures won’t get much above 70 degrees the rest of the work week.

— The Associated Press Contributed to this report.

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