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Region on alert for blazes

September 12, 2012
Jenn Brookens - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - Hot, dry, windy conditions prompted red flag warnings from the National Weather Service for Monday and Tuesday for southwestern Minnesota.

A harvest several weeks ahead of schedule adds an additional fire danger.

Because farmers have a delicate timeline for harvesting, many may end up in the fields during fire danger times.

Article Photos

DRY?CONDITIONS?— A tractor and truck await more work in a field west of Fairmont. Field work can spark fires in dry conditions.

"One saving grace we have is that some of the stalks still have some green in them," said Martin County Sheriff Jeff Markquart. "As they harvest, there are little sparks that can come off, but with a little bit of green foliage, it could deter a spark from igniting."

There was a cornfield fire Monday evening on 200th Street, near Truman, but the fire caught dry material already harvested and was put out without much incident.

"People are being encouraged not to burn, even with permits," Markquart said. "We're hoping we can get through this without any serious fires."

Some areas have a burning ban in place, although fires have not been banned outright in Martin County.

"We haven't banned recreational fires," he said. "Most people do a pretty good job of monitoring fires when they do burn. But people need to be cautious when they are burning. Look and see what's downwind."

For this reason, many farmers when harvesting will begin on the downwind side, so if a spark ignites, it won't take the entire crop.

"Bean dust is more volatile," Markquart said. "When doing maintenance, farmers need to check their equipment for dust and oil leaks. If that dust collects on the engine, a spark could start a fire."

Farmers also are encouraged to carry extinguishers in their tractors, combines or semi-trailer trucks.

Today's chance of rain and cooler temperatures for later this week will help diminish some of the fire danger, but the summer's drought has left the area more vulnerable to fires.

"We want a safe fall, and that's the bottom line," Markquart said.

 
 

 

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