See more of the story

Firefighters were battling a 10-acre wildfire in north-central Minnesota's Scenic State Park that they had about 50% contained Thursday night.

The fire was burning in mature pine and brush in the remote northeastern corner of the park, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said in a news release. Its cause has not been determined.

Scenic State Park, which is in Itasca County, remains open, including the Chase Point and Lodge campgrounds, the DNR said. Two two hike-in backcountry campsites on Pine Lake have been closed because they are close to the fire.

Other backcountry campsites in the park remain open, but with new burning restrictions in Itasca County, campfires at these backcountry sites will not be allowed, the DNR said.

Hot weather and lack of rain have heightened drought conditions and the danger of fires across much of the state, the DNR warned. Earlier Thursday, the agency activated burning restrictions, to begin as 12:01 a.m. Friday and with no determined expiration time, for the southern and eastern portions of Beltrami County and for all of Cass, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties.

In the restricted areas, burning permits will not be issued for brush or yard waste, fireworks are banned on any public or private land outside city, and campfires are allowed only in established fire rings associated with a home, campground, or resort.

In a DNR news release, fire prevention supervisor Casey McCoy said that while those in the affected counties may see plenty of green vegetation, "this is a dangerous time for wildfires in Minnesota."

More than 1,350 wildland fires have blackened about 34,000 acres across the state since the beginning of March 2021, fire management agencies report. Dry conditions have been building since last fall, and many areas in northern Minnesota remain abnormally dry or in moderate drought.