Nimrod burn confirms state's fire concernsby Conrad Wilson, Minnesota Public Radio
COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. — Fire crews spent the better part of the day working to contain the last 20 percent of a wildfire in the north-central part of the state.
Near Nimrod, Minn., National Guard helicopters and firefighters on the ground pushed into marshy areas Monday where the fire continues to burn unchecked, burning roughly 1,600 acres.
"On this particular fire, even when we say it's contained, all that really means is that we have a line around a portion of it," said Ron Sanow, fire information officer for the Department of Natural Resources. "It does not mean that this fire is by any means at any position that we could say that we're secure with it."
Fire officials don't know how the Nimrod fire started Sunday afternoon, but an investigation is underway.
The fire destroyed a mobile home and badly damaged a house, but no injuries were reported. Residents who were evacuated have since returned home.
The fire in Nimrod is large for the state, and perhaps more concerning, early for the season. The fire is the second large fire in the past week and comes as concerns about dry conditions around the state grow.
It follows a fire of several hundred acres last Friday further south near Sunburg. Over the last few weeks, there have been reports of smaller fires around the state.
The fires confirm what state officials feared: little snowfall, compounded by warm, windy weather has created some of the worst early season conditions in 15 years.
According to the DNR, fire danger is extreme in most of the state with burning restrictions in place.
Willmar Fire Chief Marv Calvin has had crews out fighting the Sunburg fire and several smaller ones the last few weeks.
"We've not had any significant rain yet this spring. So we have dry conditions and today we have high winds, which is causing more of the drying effect," Calvin said. "The conditions are ripe for grass fires and other wildland-type fires."
Tony Zaleski, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said the central and southwestern parts of the state need rain the most.
"I would say that fire is going to be tough to put out with these kinds of winds and no chance for rain until sometime on Thursday," he said.
Even if it does rain, Zaleski said it won't be enough to put a dent into what has so far been a dry spring.
A little rain every three or four days would go a long way to limiting fire danger, fire officials said.
Tim Post contributed to this report.
- All Things Considered, 04/09/2012, 5:25 p.m.