With snow still on the ground, now is a good time for residents to complete winter cleanup by burning brush piles, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
"Snow on the ground drastically reduces the chance of a fire escaping and igniting unintended areas," said Ron Stoffel, wildfire supervisor.
Burning permits are not required in the winter. As the snow melts, burning restrictions will be put in place over much of the state. Burning restrictions are used seasonally to reduce the chance of wildfires. The majority of wildfires in Minnesota result from human carelessness or lack of understanding about fire.
Even with a continuous blanket of snow, fire officials caution everyone to pay attention to their surroundings. Parts of northern Minnesota are behind in soil moisture. This deficit may allow dry peat soils to ignite due to vegetation being burned on its surface. Peat fires are difficult to extinguish once they start and may burn underground, even beneath a layer of snow.
The DNR encourages people to evaluate the site before lighting a burn pile. For questions about conditions, contact a local forestry office for information.
Stoffel emphasized that if individuals wait too long to burn, they may find that permits are unavailable until conditions improve.
"Windy days, coupled with low humidity create favorable conditions for wildfires. When the snow cover is gone, but before vegetation greens up, grass and brush burn readily," said Stoffel.