Cinco de Mayo

     This Cinco de Mayo I will be celebrating the almost quarter of an inch of rain we received during the night.  There will be no repeat of May 5, 2007 and the beginning of the Ham Lake Fire this year thanks to Mother Nature’s generous gift.  However, according to the smart people, we’ll need 1/2 of an inch of rain per week to keep fire conditions at bay thanks to the very dry spring we had.

This spring will be remembered as one of Minnesota’s driest with on-going high fire conditions. A normal fire season for the Superior National Forest is from mid-May to mid-June. But, normal is a relative term, according to Jean Bergerson of the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids.


The conditions that were in place when the Ham Lake Fire ignited on May 5, 2007, arrived at least four weeks early this year and continue to remain in place, according to Bergerson. Record breaking fire indices, partnered with lack of rain, keep the entire Arrowhead in extreme fire danger.

According to Department of Natural Resources data, the average number of fires per year over the last 25 years is 100 and the average number of acres burned per year is 400. In April this year alone, there have been 612 fires burning over 20,000 acres. 

“While the current scattered light showers are welcome and provide a much needed rest to fire crews who have been hard at work since mid March, they are not enough to replenish our lack of moisture,” said Bergeron. She added that in order to maintain levels and keep the fire danger from extreme, the area needs one-half inch of rain per week.
Campfires and recreational fires remain banned throughout all of Cook County, under an order issued April 23 by Sheriff Mark Falk. The ban includes fireworks, charcoal grills and open flame torches. Violation of the Sheriff’s fire ban can result in criminal charges and restitution for damages.
According to the weather service in Duluth, April was the warmest since 1871. Temperatures were seven degrees above normal. Precipitation was 2.7 inches behind normal.  
Fire restrictions are expected to remain in place until vegetation reaches “green-up” and more rain is received. The Thunder Bay Ontario Fire and Rescue Service has placed a ban on all open and recreational burning that will remain in place until further notice.