Arson no longer suspected in Andover grass fires

6:40 AM, Apr 29, 2013   |    comments
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ANDOVER, Minn. -- Arson is no longer suspected as the cause of a series of grass fires that burned in Andover on Saturday night.

An initial investigation by the DNR's wildfire experts instead points to the source as a passing car with some sort of mechanical problem, according to Andover Fire Chief Dan Winkel.

More than a dozen fires broke out Saturday afternoon along a two mile stretch of Bunker Lake Boulevard.  Crews from the DNR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helped fight the fires.

Jan and Early Duffy live in a townhome development where fire came within 13 feet of their home, and say when fire crews were spread thin, a stranger helped come to their rescue.s

"I thought it was barbeque and it was flames," said Jan Duffy. "One guy in particular just happened to be driving by, saw there was a problem, ran into our yard, grabbed our hose out of the backyard and started watering it down. Not a volunteer fireman, just a guy driving by, we should have his name."

Chief Winkel says other passerbys stomped out flames with their feet and used their own fire extinguishers. He's urging everyone to use extreme caution as most wildfires in Minnesota happen in April or May.

"One spark will do it. If the weather would continue to be n the 60s and 70s, warm sunny and breezy like this, I think we are in extreme conditions. Many will forget we had drought last fall that were pretty significant," said Chief Winkel.

The DNR says there is a moderate wildfire danger in the metro area. There are burning restrictions in Anoka, Chisago, Dakota, Hennepin, Isanti, Pine, Ramsey, Sherburne, Washington and Wright counties.

While the agency is initially ruling out arson, the DNR is still looking for tips in their investigation if anyone saw the fires start.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE and The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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