Beginning at 8 a.m. Friday, most outdoor fires will be banned in Cook, Lake and St. Louis counties, county, state and federal officials said.
The ban, announced late Wednesday, includes all campfires, backyard fires, brush fires, burn barrels, welders, torches and other burning in forested or grassy areas, except within 1 mile of Lake Superior. In that area, recreational fires will remain legal between 6 p.m. and midnight if they are within a patrolled campground or resort and are in a designated fire receptacle designed for fires.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources issued the ban in cooperation with federal agencies and county governments, saying a 14-month long drought has left forests tinder dry.
The fire ban includes public and private land, even within towns and cities. No campfires will be allowed in state parks, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or any areas other than the 1-mile zone.
"We have a very serious situation and we've formed a joint response," said Teresa Maday, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids.
Previous fire restrictions remain in place in other counties. No open burning is allowed in Aitkin, Anoka, Beltrami, Benton, Carlton, Cass, Chisago, Crow Wing, Douglas, Grant, Hennepin, Hubbard, Isanti, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Ottertail, Pine, Pope, Ramsey, Sherburne, Stearns, Stevens, Todd, Wadena, Washington and Wright counties.
Campfires, charcoal fires and other types of recreational fires are allowed in those counties if they are within designated fire receptacles designed for that use and are associated with a residence, campground, picnic area or resort.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)