Weather Forecast


Dry winter brings burning restrictions

With little snow and plenty of dry grass around Farmington, the risk of brush fires remains high. Burning permits have been restricted in the city and in much of Minnesota.

Weird as it may be, the city of Farmington isn't issuing any permits for open burning these days.

It's a little unusual, Farmington fire marshal John Powers said, but a lack of snow is causing drought conditions in most of the state. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is urging caution.

The DNR's concern comes after a Dec. 26 fire in northwestern Minnesota. The fire burned through a wooded area quickly thanks to the dry conditions and high winds.

Powers said Farmington and the surrounding townships really aren't much different.

"With the dry, tall grass we have, with no snow cover and the drought-like fall we had, it's a problem," Powers said. "No snow cover makes it dangerous for rapid fire spread in open areas. It's just plain too dry."

In a news release, the DNR said burning restrictions will change as the weather changes and snow cover changes. Right now, the DNR requires burning permits when there is less than three inches of continuous snow surrounding a planned burn area. Farmington still requires a burning permit, Powers said, and right now the city is not issuing any until there is a decent snow cover.

"In my 10 years here, in the winter, we've never had the reason to restrict burning at this time of the year," Powers said. "This is abnormal.

Recreational camp fires are still allowed, Powers said, but only if they are contained in a proper burning pit.

Powers has another concern about open fires at this time of the year, too. Because brush fires are not usually common in the winter, Farmington's firefighters drain the brush trucks they use for fighting those fires. Typically, during the normal brush fire season, those trucks carry about 200 gallons of water, but that water is drained over the winter so it doesn't freeze up in the tanks.

If Farmington has an extensive brush fire, firefighters would have to take the time to hook those trucks up to hydrants and refill the tanks before responding to an open field or yard.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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