The temperatures Tuesday (May 14) reached upward of 90 degrees in Morrison County, but it was a dry heat (no humidity). Add to that brisk winds that Tony Wenzel of Randall said a friend measured at 37 miles per hour, and grass fires are a danger — that proved true as area firefighters fought four different fires. Two in the Randall area, one near Scandia Valley and one on Grouse Road in Little Falls.
One fire in Randall was on property abutting Camp Ripley and the fire spread to the Camp.
Camp Ripley’s Fire Department responded to two unexpected fires on Camp Ripley in the training area north of the cantonment area — one was the fire that started off post on private property and moved into the northern training area. The other fire started in the training area impact zone.
“Fire Department personnel responded to both fires immediately and both were brought under control,” Maj. John Donovan, public affairs officer for Camp Ripley, said. “At no time were soldiers or the public in danger from these fires,” said Donovan.
Little Falls Fire Chief Mike Nieman said neighbors reported a fire on Grouse Road on property owned by Brian Pederson, who was not hoem at the time. They got the call at about 6:22 p.m. and as the 23 firefighters rolled in, the neighbors had tried to “knock it down as much as they could,” said Nieman. The firefighters battled the fire for about 1 1/2 hours.
Nieman said the fire may have started when the proeprty owner dumped ashes from the outdoor wood burner a couple of days prior. “The wind caught it and flared it,” he said.
That’s why Nieman said, “For recreational fires, when it’s this dry out and this windy — we just recommend no fires.”
While there is no ban on recreational fires, Nieman said, “We don’t have a ban, but use common sense. No one has to be sitting out at a camp fire when it’s this dry and this windy.”
“Hopefully we’ll get some rain, it will help a lot,” said Nieman.
Camp Ripley continues its own controlled burns , routinely scheduled burns to improve training areas and reduce the potential for wild fires, said Donovan.
The Minnesota National Guard sent one UH-60 “Blackhawk”, one CH-47 “Chinook” helicopter with bambi buckets and two Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical trucks to the Thief River Falls Regional Airport to assist with wildfire suppression efforts Northwest of Red Lake, said Army Maj. Scott J. Rohweder, chief of operations for the Joint Operations Center, Minnesota National Guard.
“Last night, an additional support request came from the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center and Department of Natural of Resources for a second Minnesota National Guard UH-60 “Blackhawk” with bambi bucket,” said Rohweder.
Randall Fire Chief John Kreuser was unavailable for details about the fires his crew responded to before this was posted. More information will be forthcoming.