Fires in Houston County

A DNR truck sits next to a burned area in Houston County. Three fires broke out of control last week, as dry and windy conditions fueled two permitted burns out of control and sparked another fire that is still under investigation.

By Jordan Gerard

Editor, The Caledonia Argus

While many enjoyed the warm temperatures last Monday, April 5, dry and windy conditions brought out four fire departments responding to three out of control fires.

The news came via a post on the Houston County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page at about 3:30 p.m. last week. Stepping outside in Caledonia, the air held a smoky scent.

A fire on Malay Rd. near Zenner’s Pond called out fire departments from Caledonia, Brownsville and Eitzen, Caledonia Ambulance and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff at about 2:11 p.m. 

Chief Deputy Brian Swedberg said a “variety of stuff dumped” may have been the start of the fire, but the cause is still under investigation. 

The fire spread into the woods and burned about 30 acres before Caledonia, Brownsville and Eitzen fire departments cleared the area at 9:21 p.m. DNR staff was back on scene the next day to put out hot spots. 

If anyone has any information about that fire, they should contact the investigators at 507-725-3379, ext. 4107. 

The other fire near Caledonia happened on County Rd. 249, after a permitted burn got out of control at about 1:23 p.m. The winds switched direction and spread the fire into a cornfield, which burned about an acre. Caledonia Fire Department responded to this fire as well, clearing it at 2:11 p.m.

The third fire happened near Houston at about 1:09 p.m. on Secluded Rd. This was also a permitted burn and planned burn of about 30 acres. About 20 acres were complete when the fire got away and spread to a wooded area, where about half an acre burned. Houston Fire Department cleared this fire at 2:44 p.m.

With all three fires going, Houston County temporarily cancelled all active burn permits. After the rain on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, active burning permits were reinstated. 

Swedberg said to try and prevent permitted burns from spreading, permit holders should check and monitor weather conditions. On Monday, the wind picked up in the afternoon, fueling the fires. Permit holders should also be prepared to water the burned area down or figure out the best spot for a barrier.

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