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Published October 16, 2012, 09:51 PM

Grass fire near Hawley is contained

Hawley, MN (WDAY TV) -- It's a stark, visual reminder of just how serious our dry conditions are. This is video from a large, out-of-control grass fire between Hawley and Hitterdal today.

Hawley, MN (WDAY TV) -- It's a stark, visual reminder of just how serious our dry conditions are. This is video from a large, out-of-control grass fire between Hawley and Hitterdal today.

The fire is contained now, but it wasn't an easy fight. Half a dozen crews fought the fire in full force. The Sheriff's Office called in everyone available to battle the blaze. Hours of work, for what the Sheriff's Office says, could've started in an instant.

Sheriff Bill Bergquist/Clay County: "simple little cig being thrown can definitely start what we just started here."

More than 160 acres - now burned, black soot. The blaze started on a plot of US Fish & Wildlife land near Hawley, just east of Highway 32. It spread so quickly, the fire nearly reached a farmstead.

Bergquist: "That was their main concern so they went to the farmyard right away and did burning around it to back it up a little bit."

When officials say burning around, this is what they mean. Crews start controlled burns around power poles, farmsteads, and near roads. It burns away what would be fuel for the grass fire - protecting structures.

The Clay County Sheriff's Office says it's not SURE of the cause, but if it was started by a cigarette, it won't be taken lightly.

Bergquist: "It would be quite severe penalties. One simple thing, they would have to pay restitution."

With strong winds expected the next few days, the Sheriff's Office is urging people to use caution. And if you have any information about the fire today, you're asked to call authorities.

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