Be prepared for wildfires throughout this dry spring 

March 11, 2024​

​​​​​​​Grass on fire and a  single firefighterA firefighter works to put out a wildfire in Waseca County. Photo courtesy of the Waseca County Pioneer.

A wildfire in Waseca County raced through nearly 2,000 acres during the first weekend of March, forcing several residents to evacuate. 

This fire, which hurt three people, was just one of more than 70 across the state so far this year. We have seen a rise in wildfire activity pick up in open grasses and marshland throughout Minnesota since mid-February.  

With Minnesota’s wildfires getting an early start on the season — which is predicted to be unusually active — public safety teams are increasing their preparedness levels to match the need. The real-time response is only part of the planning. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) and our partners’ proactive work is also paying off. 

We coordinate with our partners on an annual basis on things like the statewide fire mutual aid plan, and we have weekly planning calls as Minnesota sees more red flag warning days, which indicate a high fire danger. 

“The resources are ready, and we're sharing that information with our partners now,” said Jacob Beauregard, mutual aid and logistics coordinator with DPS’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management division. “Yeah, it came earlier, but we're still ready to respond.” 

The 2024 Minnesota wildfire season started about six weeks earlier than usual, according to the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center. Traditionally, late March to early April is when we start to see a steady rise in spring wildfire activity following the receding snowpack from Southern Minnesota northward. Due to the exceptionally warm winter with little to no snowpack this year, most of Minnesota is already snow-free. 

The dry winter isn’t the only thing feeding the flames. According to the National Weather Service, the ongoing drought and warmer-than-usual temperatures are also creating heightened hazards. Nearly all of Minnesota is abnormally dry and more than 50 percent of the state is experiencing at least moderate drought conditions. The long-range forecast suggestions that our temperatures will be well above normal for much of March and possibly into April. Meanwhile, we likely won’t see much precipitation. 

While weather patterns are out of our hands, public safety experts say there are things everyone can do to stay safe this wildfire season — regardless of how long it lasts. 

“Pay attention to the forecast and the fire conditions as we progress through the spring and have a plan,” said Beauregard. 

Visit HSEM’s website for details on how to make your plan and keep your loved ones safe.​