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Late start to spring results in higher number of brush fires

Firefighters worked for over two hours to extinguish the fire spreadh across the Grey Cloud Dunes State Natural Area. Courtesy of Cottage Grove Public Safety

WASHINGTON COUNTY — The Department of Natural Resources is asking residents of Washington County not to light any fires after announcing that the current fire risk is extreme.

Cottage Grove firefighters have seen more grass and brush fires this year than in past years, Deputy Chief PJ McMahon said, though every spring brings fires of this kind.

This year's late spring, rising temperatures and wind has caused vegetation to dry out quickly. There have been several grass and brush fires break out under these conditions, including one that spanned 80 acres of the Grey Cloud Dunes Scientific and Natural Area.

As of May 4, the DNR labeled Washington County and much of the surrounding area at an extreme risk of fire danger, saying on the website that "the fire situation is explosive and can result in extensive property damage."

The DNR also stated it is not issuing burn permits during this time, though some campfires are allowed.

Woodbury, St. Paul Park and Newport have all had reports of grass and brush fires this spring.

Police are citing residents for burning violations if the fire is not watched, not put out all the way, or not permitted.

The risk should die down once new vegetation starts to grow more rapidly.

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