Officials warn of conditions ripe for wildfires in west central Minn.
WILLMAR -- Saying weather conditions will create "explosive fire growth potential," the National Weather Service has put portions of west central and south central Minnesota, including Kandiyohi County, under a "red flag" warning for today and Wednesday.
High temperatures, high winds, low humidity and extremely dry conditions have increased the chance for wildfires, according to the Weather Service.
The threat is especially worrisome in rural areas where fields are full of dry crops.
In response to the conditions, officials in three area counties have initiated restrictions on open burning.
Over the weekend a burning ban went into effect in Yellow Medicine County. On Monday, Renville County also initiated a burning ban until further notice and Chippewa County implemented restriction on open burning as of 5 p.m. Monday.
In a news release, Chippewa County Sheriff Stacy Tufto said he made the decision based on predictions from the National Weather Service and "due to the fact that we haven't had any significant rainfall for over a month and with the drying of vegetation since the killing frost," that could create "severe wildfire danger conditions."
The National Weather Service in Chanhassen is predicting temperatures in the high 80s, relative humidity of less than 20 percent and wind gusts up to 30 mph today and Wednesday that make conditions ripe for wildfires.
The red flag warning, which means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly, is in effect from this afternoon to 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Fires could become "dangerous and fast moving in a short period of time" because of the gusty winds and low humidity, according to the National Weather Service.
Renville County Sheriff Scott Hable said the ban was put in place in an effort to limit "brush fires, ditch fires and other situations where fires could get out of control."
He said burning permits that have already been issued in Renville County will remain valid and can again be used once the burning ban is lifted.
"The Renville County Sheriff's Office asks the public to be extra cautious and report all fires immediately," said Hable in a news release.
All the burning bans and restrictions will continue until further notice or until conditions change. Questions should be directed to individual county sheriff's offices.
Red flag warning
The National Weather Service of Chanhassen has put the following counties under a red flag warning for today and Wednesday: Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Swift, Yellow Medicine, Renville, Pope, Lac qui Parle, Redwood, Douglas, Stevens, Brown, Watonwan and Martin.
It includes the cities of Alexandria, Morris, Glenwood, Madison, Benson, Montevideo, Willmar, Granite Falls, Olivia, Redwood Falls, New Ulm, St. James and Fairmont.