Watch CBS News

Minnesota, Wisconsin expected to have increased wildfire risk this spring

Warm winter causes early start to fire season in Minnesota
Warm winter causes early start to fire season in Minnesota 02:12

MINNEAPOLIS — The National Interstate Fire Center has released data that shows Minnesota and northern Wisconsin will have an increased risk for wildfires this spring.

According to projected map data from the NIFC, Minnesota and northern parts of Wisconsin will see an "above normal" wildfire risk starting as soon as March. 


The outlook remains bleak throughout May. 

Meanwhile, the opposite could be said for southern parts of the U.S.

States like Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia are projected to see a "below normal" risk for wildfires in March, and that projection regresses through April and May.  


Currently, the Minnesota Department of National Resources has rated their statewide wildfire preparedness at a two. 

The NIFC says a level two preparedness rating means, "several geographic areas are experiencing high to extreme fire danger, though they are able to manage fire activity without requesting many wildland fire suppression resources from other areas."

At level three, an area impacted by wildfires would need a significant amount of wildland fire suppression resources from other areas. 

According to the DNR, Minnesota has experienced 19 fires so far this year. 

In the past 24 hours, wildfires have been reported in forestry areas of Park Rapids, Dandstone, Cloquet, Deer River, Little Falls, and Aitkin, says the DNR. 

There are burning restrictions throughout the state, but at this time they're mostly limited to areas around the metro. 

The DNR says 34% of wildfires are caused by burning debris, 25% is due to arson and other incendiary items, and 12% is due to equipment. Other causes for wildfires are railroads, smoking, campfires, lightning and other miscellaneous or unknown causes. 

The threat of wildfires is something the DNR doesn't typically deal with until mid-to-late March.

"This year, we don't have that snowpack, so it started earlier — almost six weeks earlier than normal," Karen Harrison, a wildfire prevention specialist, said. "We've already, you know, since about mid-February, responded to over 50 wildfires and over 500 acres already."

The warning comes as this wildfire burning in Texas has grown into the second largest in U.S. history, with smoke from them already reaching Minnesota.

Last summer, it was smoke from Canada's wildfires that filled our skies. While we can't do much to stop the smoke from Texas or Canada, the DNR says you can do your part by avoiding burning during spring cleaning, and if you do, apply for a permit and check fire conditions first. For any outdoor activity, keep an eye on your equipment.

"It's really important to make sure that you aren't doing anything that could create a spark, and if you are, you're staying vigilant and being cautious," Harrison said.

To learn more about daily wildfire risks in Minnesota, click here

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.