Dry, windy conditions have sent fire trucks rolling across the southwest metro this month in response to a wave of brush fires.
Several fires in Scott County have been started by residents burning yard waste, local fire officials confirmed.
“I can’t over-emphasize enough how dry it is,” Prior Lake Fire Chief Rick Steinhaus said Tuesday. “It is dangerously dry.”
Local dispatch communications on Monday detailed several outdoor fires in the area.
Shortly before 1:30 p.m., Shakopee responders were called to the 7300 block of Whitehall Road for a grass fire that started to get out of control.
In Credit River, Prior Lake firefighters responded to the 9300 block of Amber Drive shortly after 2:30 p.m. for a brush fire. Reports of smoke in the area triggered another fire response shortly after.
Steinhaus confirmed the fire had been started by someone burning brush.
Shortly before 5 p.m., Shakopee responders were called to 17th Avenue East and Mystic Lake Drive for another fire in a wooded area. Soon after, Elko New Market responders were called to an additional outdoor fire.
However, not all communities have been impacted equally by the dry conditions.
Savage Assistant Fire Chief Jeremie Bresnahan said their department hasn’t seen an uptick in fires lately, partly because there is less open land in Savage.
On the flip side, some departments have been responding to 2-3 outdoor fires per day, according to Steinhaus.
Burn restrictions are currently in place for 36 Minnesota counties due to fire conditions, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Burn restrictions have helped reduce wildfires by more than 30% over the past decade, according to Casey McCoy, the DNR’s fire prevention supervisor.
Scott, Dakota and Carver counties are not among those listed as of April 5. However, local burning permits are required.
Steinhaus said he encourages local residents to look at other options, such as the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility, to dispose of yard waste.
“Even with light winds, it just takes one little ember to get into a dry spot and it takes off,” he said.
Minnesota’s unseasonably warm temperatures are also contributing to the increased fire risk.
With the snow gone for several weeks, the land is unusually dry for this time of year, Steinhaus said.
“Last night’s little rain we got, that didn’t do anything,” he said Tuesday. “We need a good several days in a row of good, soaking rain.”