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Video: Fire experts: Over 1,350 wildfires in Minnesota in past 100 days, more than normal calendar year

Jun 16, 2021 04:26AM ● By Editor

Watch the KSTP-TV Report here

Photo: KSTP-TV

By Jessica Miles of KSTP-TV - June 15, 2021

Don't let the green deceive you — in the last three months there have been more than 1,350 wildland fires in Minnesota, fire experts say. That's more than we may get all calendar year during normal weather conditions.

Video from a fire last week near Baudette in northern Minnesota shows a 300-acre fire started by lightning that burned through lowland brush, conifers and timbers. It took crews on the ground and in the air nearly a week to contain.

Another fire near Bigfork in Itasca County burned up through the treetops.

Fire behavior experts said these fires are burning fast and hot, right up through the crowns of trees, making them dangerous to fight.

"People on the ground can generally work around 4-foot flame lengths. Once we get up to 8-foot flame lengths we can't even use equipment anymore and we have to bring in aircraft," said William Glesener, a wildfire operations supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Aircraft firefighting tools would typically be moving onto another state where things are heating up, but they're staying put, just in case.

"We are calling aircraft as soon as we get word of a fire, and we have those requests go in, and then if we have to we will turn it around if it's not needed, but we are launching a lot sooner than we normally would just because of the issues we're having currently," Glesener said.

Already this season, Glesener said crews from Montana, South Dakota, Ohio, Missouri and Maine have been in Minnesota helping fight these fires, and experts say conditions don't appear to be getting better anytime soon.

"It's probably going to be a banner year with the number of fires if this continues," he said.

Glesener said on the west side of a line from International Falls south through Brainerd and into southwest Minnesota is the area of most concern right now, but he said the dry conditions are spreading east.

He reminds all Minnesotans to be cautious by hosing down campfires and calling in any unmanned fires.

"It's not stopping, we continue to see more and more areas return to dormant fuels, which means they are available for fires to burn," Glesener said.

To watch the original report and see related stories, follow this link to the KSTP-TV website.

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