NWS: Red Flag Warning Thursday for extreme fire risk conditions; RFD halting controlled burns

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(ABC 6 News) – The National Weather Service on Thursday has issued Red Flag Warnings for counties in southeastern Minnesota and northern Iowa due to extreme fire risk conditions.

The warning is in effect until 8:00 p.m. Thursday for the entire ABC 6 News viewing area.

A Red Flag Warning means fires can spread quickly and easily progress out of control under the predicted weather conditions, including gusty winds and low humidity. Residents should not burn and check any recent burning they may have done to ensure the fire is completely out. The DNR will not issue or activate open burning permits during the Red Flag Warning, and campfires are discouraged.

Southerly winds are expected to be around 20-25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph possible. The gusty winds combined with low humidity and unseasonably warm temperatures will renew the threat for critical fire weather conditions much like Wednesday.

“Any spark could become a wildfire under Red Flag conditions,” said Karen Harrison, DNR wildfire prevention specialist.

The Rochester Fire Department (RFD) said on Wednesday that they along with the Rochester Parks & Recreation Department would be conducting controlled burns in grass and prairie areas on Thursday. However, given the Red Flag Warnings in place, RFD said they will not be conducting any controlled burns around the city.

“We were going to use those control burns as a training opportunity but now that the red flag has come out we have canceled those. We want to keep the public safe, we want to make sure we can control those, they’re controlled burns. So we don’t want them to get away from us and damage any sort of buildings or anything in the public,” Rochester Firefighter explained.

RFD advises the public not to burn anything as it could lead to fires getting out of control and causing extensive damage due to the inability to control the fire spread.

RELATED: Controlled burns to take place in Rochester this week

For more information and daily updates on current fire risk and open burning restrictions, CLICK HERE.