Fire burns more than 200 acres of swamp near Pierz

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
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Tuesday, a swamp fire burned about 225 acres of land off Hawthorne Road, Pierz, in Buh Township.

A report of a possible out-of-control fire came in at about 1:15 p.m., with the Pierz Fire Department and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Department of Forestry and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service responding. The wind was high and air control was called for. A single engine air tanker from Brainerd was called in to dump retardant and a helicopter from Princeton dropped water.

“That day is was definitely windy and the wind played probably a big factor into why it burned so many acres,” said DNR Forester Walker Wearne. “Spring is the driest time of year and swamp grasses stay pretty dry till they green up.”

Wearne said the fire was under control by about 3:30 p.m., but the area remains in patrol status to watch for flare-ups. No buildings were damaged, but several were in danger, said Wearne. Structure protection was put in place on those buildings deemed as being in danger.

Most of the fires in the area have been permitted fires, said Wearne. “Spring burning restrictions are on now and will be until green-up occurs,” he said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Since January, Wearne said the DNR has recorded 26 unpermitted or out-of-control fires in the area he works in, which includes Morrison, Benton, Stearns, Mille Lacs, Kanabec and Todd counties.