CHANHASSEN, Minn. -- More red flag warnings are out today (11 a.m.-7 p.m.) across the western half of Minnesota.
The National Weather Service has issued the warnings along a line westward of Fairmont, up to St. Cloud, Brainerd, Hibbing and International Falls. With the exception of the Arrowhead region, most of the upper two-thirds of the state is currently under an "extreme" fire danger rating.
With strong winds, low humidity and warm weather in the forecast, fires can start in an instant. The Interagency Fire Center's Jean Goad says people are the cause of many of the recent fires across western Minnesota -- from mowers hitting rocks and causing a spark, to ATV's parked on dried grass that start a fire. Goad reminds Minnesotans that campfire restrictions remain in place throughout most of the state and no new burning permits are being issued.
To no one's surprise, September goes down in the record books as a very dry month. Pete Boulay with the State Climatology Office says many places in central and northern Minnesota finished in the top-ten driest Septembers on record The Twin Cities and St. Cloud finished September second-driest on record, and Fargo had its driest September ever. Duluth had its 7th-driest September and International Falls saw its sixth driest. Boulay says most places are between two- and three-inches behind normal September rainfall.
If you heat your home with fuel oil, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) recommends you have your tank inspected before winter. Each year, around 40 residential fuel oil spills occur, resulting in high home repair and cleanup costs. In addition, the MPCA's Sam Brungardt says an oil spill in the home presents a fire hazard but also has an adverse effect on indoor air quality. Brungardt adds it's important to keep up with annual maintenace to prevent leaks and ensure piping connections are secure, especially as colder weather sets in.