CROOKSTON, Minn. — Firefighters were still monitoring a brush fire at a farm west of Crookston Thursday night, April 25, after a farmer unaware of a county-wide burn ban earlier that day started a fire that triggered the blaze.
The Crookston Fire Department says the close call is an important reminder about burning anything in dangerously fire-prone conditions. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources currently rates Polk County and much of northwest Minnesota as having extreme fire risk, with the potential for "explosive" fires that could result in serious property damage.
Firefighters say someone ignited a pile of manure and hay from a horse facility and that the person was unaware that a burn ban was put into place in Polk County due to the dry conditions and high winds.
Smoke could be seen miles away from Highway 2 and from within the city of Crookston, which is about 6 miles away from where the fire happened.
Firefighters said it was fortunate the blaze started far away from any buildings, though there were some trees nearby and a rural road was closed because of intense smoke.
A brush fire is not just a danger to the public, firefighters said. Windy conditions present a dangerous challenge while trying to extinguish flames, as a gust can change the direction the fire moves in a matter of seconds.
A gust of 41 miles per hour was recorded at the Crookston airport Thursday.
"You can't really control them in this wind. The fuel out there, the dead grass, dead leaves and all that, is very dry and very volatile right now," said Chris Klawitter with the Crookston Fire Department.
The person who started the fire will not be fined because he was not aware of the burn ban.
Along with a fine, anyone who starts an illegal fire can be billed for the response and any damages.