Last week's snowstorm was a welcome pause for residents in northeastern Minnesota, who had been nervously watching the wildfire risk climb. With dry conditions lingering throughout the winter and spring, and more than 20 grass fires already reported in St. Louis County this spring, fire dangers are once again on the rise.

That's why a bunch of agencies got together to give us an update on the wildfire risks and what they're doing about it. St. Louis County, the Forest Service, DNR, Weather Service, and even the cities of Ely and Duluth have been prepping all winter long for what could be a severe wildfire season.

New Map for St. Louis County Residents Show Fire Danger

St. Louis County has a helpful new online mapping tool that puts the power of preparedness in your hands. It breaks the whole county down into 1600 evacuation zones so you can see the fire risk for your specific area. They use the Ready, Set, Go plan to help people get ready and evacuate in a hurry if things get bad.

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What Are Agencies Doing to Prepare for Wildfire Season?

Several agencies are working on specific tasks, for instance, Public Works has been clearing brush from along roadways to remove potential fuels and ensure roads are passable for emergency vehicles in the event of fire, and Public Health has been working with the American Red Cross to update potential evacuation sites that could be used as emergency shelters.

Online Mapping Tool
Online Mapping Tool

Forest Supervisor Tom Hall says that the Superior National Forest has been preparing through the winter for the upcoming season by making sure that they are able to mobilize resources from around the country if needed. Hall says, "The predictive services are showing we have above average risk of wildfires."

The majority of St. Louis County is experiencing moderate drought conditions right now, and Meteorologist Woody Unruh with the National Weather Service in Duluth says, "It's very unusual to have drought conditions worsen during the winter because we normally have a large snowpack in place."

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