Dry conditions spur grass fires

Published 10:33 am Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A grass fire that broke out near High Forest was one of just several in the area and throughout the state on Monday. Firefighter from Hayfield, Grand Meadow and Stewartville battled this blaze, which started in a nearby yard, for about two hours. — Matt Peterson/matt.peterson@austindailyherald.com

Local officials were right on Monday about dry, windy conditions and the potential for grass fires.

Fires near Grand Meadow, Stewartville and Albert Lea drew the attention of multiple fire crews throughout the day. Both fires near Albert Lea and Stewartville blazed near homes, and authorities had to direct traffic and warn homeowners.

While the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wis., has lifted the red flag fire warning, Fire Weather Program Manager Dave Schmidt said the potential for fires is still high.

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“We may not hit the humidity criteria and wind criteria like we did yesterday, but still, with the fields being dry out, we are still looking at elevated grass fire concerns.”

Schmidt added that most grass fires are caused by humans. Though officials are not sure what caused some of the fires yesterday, Olmsted County officials know that a fire that started in a nearby backyard was the cause of the blaze near Stewartville.

Schmidt said burn barrels, farmers burning ditches, smoldering fires, sparks from trains and cigarettes could all be causes, which is why people should take caution.

For local information on burning bans or restrictions, call 507-437-9400, and for a complete, statewide listing, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us. The Department of Natural Resources has reduced much of the statewide wildfire risk from the highest level of “extreme” to the second-highest of “very high” as of Tuesday morning.