50 acres burned in Dalbo after grass fire

Firefighters from Dalbo, Milaca, Princeton, Braham and the DNR worked to battle the blaze.

Princeton Union-Eagle

Shortly after 1 p.m. Will Jensen was awakened by a knock at his door. It was a passerby who stopped to let him know there was a raging grass fire in the hay fields that adjoin the property owned by his father at 41021 Tiger Street, Milaca.

The home, nine miles southeast of Milaca, 12 miles northeast of Princeton and 15 miles northwest of Cambridge, was being threatened by fire.

“When we got there, the fire was burning across the field to the east and north,” said Dalbo Fire Chief Andy Swanson.

By the time firefighting crews from Dalbo, Princeton, Braham, Milaca and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources were done fighting the blaze 2 1/2 hours later, about 50 acres had burned, Swanson estimates.

Grass fires are usually rare in February when hay fields such as Jensen’s are normally covered under a blanket of heavy snow. But a lack of snow this season has left dry fields susceptible to fire.

“Grass fires in February are rare,” Swanson said. “Especially one of that intensity.”

As a matter of fact, the fire was a big one for any season.

“In my 16 years as a firefighter I have never seen a (grass) fire that size,” he said.

Grass fire season doesn’t usually start for a couple of months. There’s one thing people can do to prevent fires both now and later in the year.

“The biggest thing,” Swanson said, “Don’t be burning. Plain and simple. People don’t realize how dry it is.”

For the full story, see the Thursday, Feb. 23 print edition of the Times.