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Campers in Minnesota urged to help prevent wildfires

With conservation officers from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) assisting with California wildfires, attention was recently paid to preventing wildfires in Minnesota.

With conservation officers from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) assisting with California wildfires, attention was recently paid to preventing wildfires in Minnesota.

Conservation officer Eric Benjamin of Warroad encountered a campfire at Bemis Hill Campground in Beltrami Island State Forest that was left unextinguished while the campers went for a ride on their ATV. He spoke with them when they returned.

"They stated that when they left earlier in the morning it was just smoldering ash with a log that was thrown on, but there were no flames," said Benjamin.

The conditions that day were very windy, and Benjamin explained to the campers that it doesn't take much wind to reignite a smoldering heap of ash into a fire when there is a fuel source nearby, as was evident by the flaming log.

The DNR reminds campers to follow these guidelines when extinguishing a campfire:

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• Allow the wood to burn completely to ash, if possible.

• Pour lots of water on the fire; drown all embers, not just the red ones.

• Pour until the hissing sound stops.

• Stir the campfire ashes and embers with a shovel.

• Scrape sticks and logs to remove any embers.

• Make sure everything is wet and cold to the touch.

• If there is no water, mix dirt or sand in with the embers. Continue adding and stirring until all material is cool. Remember, do not bury the fire as it will continue to smolder and could ignite roots that will eventually get to the surface and start a wildfire.

• People who spot a wildfire should call 9-1-1 immediately.

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For more information on wildfire prevention and safety, visit www.smokeybear.com.

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