You can have a backyard bonfire in Crookston, but you need to follow city ordinance.

Dry conditions the last two weeks of April have contributed to several wildfires in northwestern Minnesota. The Department of Natural Resources warns of an outlook for similar conditions into May, increasing the potential for higher wildfire activity in the region.

Everyone can do their prevention part by following current burning restrictions and being safe with fire.

“Year after year, escaped debris burning is the number one cause of Minnesota’s wildfires,” said Greg Snyder, DNR Forestry northwest region assistant manager. “When conditions are this dry, any spark can quickly turn into an escaped wildfire.”

Consistent with Governor Tim Walz’s executive orders to help ensure the health and safety of all Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic, the DNR proactively moved to burning restrictions immediately after snowmelt to reduce potential for wildfire and emergency response. These restrictions remain in place, and the state is not currently issuing burning permits for brush or yard waste. The DNR will grant variance permits only for agricultural field and construction site preparation, and limited prescribed burning. Individuals seeking a variance should call their local DNR Forestry Office.

The DNR's May 1 update indicates Polk County has "high" fire danger. That category means fires can start easily and spread fast.

With this year’s spring wildfire season coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesotans who are fire safe and follow burning restrictions also help reduce additional risks and stressors on the state’s emergency response network. Fewer response calls help wildland firefighters in social distancing, allowing them to stay healthy and ensuring they can respond effectively to wildfires that do occur, as well as supporting other critical emergency response needs.

Small recreational fires or campfires are still allowed during the burning restrictions. Please note many local, state and federal recreation areas may have additional campfire restrictions.

If you do see a wildfire, call 911.