Austin firefighters prepare to attack a fire engulfing sheds and vehicles behind the home of Richard Riles of Lansing last October afternoon. -- Herald file photo

Risk of fire high in county

Published 9:19am Monday, October 8, 2012

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Incident Command System needs cooperation from the public to help prevent and minimize fire danger, which is at a seasonal all-time high in much of Minnesota.

The current fire danger risk in much of southern Minnesota, including Mower County, is high, and no burning permits are being issued in Mower. Recreational campfires are still allowed, however, Austin Fire Chief Mickey Healey urges that locals even avoid having recreational fires.

“Respectfully, we don’t want any open burning right now, just for the potential,” he said.

Drought across much of the state continues to pose a threat for fires, and wildfires in northern Minnesota still have not been contained.

“We have a unique and dangerous combination of fires that are not yet well contained up north, and a serious fire risk in the south that will continue to challenge local emergency response resources if additional fires should start,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr.

Under such conditions, Landwehr urges all Minnesotans to take certain precautions that include:

—Exercise caution in all agricultural operations and avoid operations in fields and roadsides until fire danger improves, particularly the mowing of dry fields and lawns. Sparks from mowers can easily ignite dry grass. Monitor weather conditions and conduct fall operations during periods of higher humidity and low winds.

—Avoid target shooting, particularly the use of the popular new “exploding targets.” Firing guns and hitting exploding targets present a high risk.

—If possible, do not run motor vehicles or other heavy equipment in dry fields. The heat of the engine and exhaust system can cause fires.

—Follow all burning restrictions. Campfires and other open burning are prohibited in several areas of the state. Check the DNR website for information.

—Carry a fire extinguisher when operating machinery in dry areas.

—Have a family and business emergency response plan ready in case fire threatens an area near you.

—Immediately call 911 if a fire is ignited and move to a safe location. Attempting to extinguish fires under current conditions can be extremely hazardous without proper personal protection.

For more information, go to the DNR’s website.

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