ST. PAUL (AP) - In another sign of spring, restrictions on open burning take effect Friday in 19 counties in central Minnesota.

The Department of Natural Resources says rapid snowmelt has increased the risk of wildfires, particularly in grassy areas. The DNR says dry grass and other vegetation can ignite easily and the fires can spread quickly.

Burning restrictions begin at 8 a.m. Friday. The 19 counties are: Anoka, Benton, Cass south of the Chippewa National Forest, Crow Wing, Chisago, Dakota, Douglas, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Pope, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, Washington and Wright.

The DNR will add counties as the snow cover recedes northward and says most of Minnesota will be under restrictions soon.

Once restrictions are in place, getting permits will require extenuating circumstances. Campfires will still be allowed.

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