Fire risk is high this weekend
Farmington firefighters dealt with two brush fires over the weekend, and the city's fire marshal believes conditions will be ripe for more in the days ahead.
The first of the two fires was reported at noon Saturday in the woods behind Dodge Middle School. The second was reported at 4 p.m. Sunday in a rural area off of 220th Street. Fire marshal John Powers said both were under control within about an hour.
While neither fire was particularly difficult to extinguish, Powers said getting to them was challenging.
"One of them was in a swampy area," he said. "There was frozen ice underneath it, so it was hard to get traction. Just to get out there, it was hard to walk."
It's not clear how the fires started. Powers said there are several possible causes.
Dry grasses are an annual concern as winter transitions to spring, but Powers said dry weather that started last fall and continued through a largely snowless winter have contributed to conditions that make grass fires a greater risk than usual.
"Last fall was particularly dry, so the plants, the trees, the shrubs, they never stored enough water for the winter," Powers said. ""Their moisture content is lower, so they'll burn more readily."
With weather through the weekend expected to be warm and dry, Powers believes there is a risk for more fires.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has issued burning restrictions for much of the state. Burning permits are required for open burns, though that does not include backyard bonfires. Powers also encourages Farmington residents to be especially aware of actions that could inadvertently spark a fire. A carelessly discarded cigarette can lead to big problems, he said.
"We just encourage people to stay safe with their fires the next couple weeks until it can green up," he said.