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Large wildfire ignites north of Staples

STAPLES, Minn. -- A wildfire ignited northwest of Staples in northern Minnesota Wednesday afternoon, sending out an air and ground attack by firefighters.

STAPLES, Minn. -- A wildfire ignited northwest of Staples in northern Minnesota Wednesday afternoon, sending out an air and ground attack by firefighters.

Forestry crews with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and area firefighters responded to the wildfire reported at 3:30 p.m. near Oylen, along with a large tanker that holds 3,000 gallons from Bemidji, two track vehicles, three bulldozers and six aircraft.

The fire torched pine trees, burning about 100 acres of previously logged pines heading into mature pines, the DNR reported. As of 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night, firefighters remained on scene assessing the size of the fire and ensuring hot spots were out.

Christi Powers, public information officer with the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center, said if the relative humidities continues to drop, temperatures and wind gusts continue to increase, the fire danger will be high. The MIFC serves as a hub for mobilization of wildfires and emergency resources.

"We are getting more people in line for this weekend because of the risk of wildfires," Powers said.

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Large swaths of northern Minnesota were in a "red flag warning" by the National Weather Service until 8 p.m. Tuesday. The warning means critical fire weather conditions are occurring, the NWS states. A combination of strong winds and low relative humidity can contribute to extreme fire behavior.

Wildfire risk will be higher during the next week to 10 days, the DNR stated in a press release. High winds and low humidity are big factors in fire danger.

Spring burning restrictions are in effect in northwest Minnesota that prohibit leaf and brush pile burning. Restrictions typically remain in place until summer green-up occurs. This usually lasts four to six weeks. The DNR also has no burning permits or campfires allowed in a good portion of northern part of the state.

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