Fire is a rapid, persistent chemical reaction that releases heat and light, especially the exothermic combination of a combustible substance with oxygen. A fire is categorized as both a natural hazard and a technological hazard that occurs in both the outside and non-outside environments.

A wildfire is an uncontrolled fire spreading through vegetative fuels, posing danger and destruction to property. Wildfires can occur in undeveloped areas and spread to urban areas where structures and other human development are more concentrated. While some wildfires start by natural causes like lightning, humans cause four out of every five wildfires. Debris burns, arson or carelessness are the leading causes of wildfires. As a natural hazard, a wildfire is often the direct result of a lightning strike that may destroy personal property and public land areas, especially on state and national forest lands.

Image of a house on fire


The predominant danger from wildfires is the destruction of timber, property and wildlife, and injury or loss of life to people living in the affected area or using the area for recreational facilities.

Urban fires are blazes spreading through structures, posing danger and destruction to property. These fires include any instance of uncontrolled burning which results in structural damage to residential, commercial, industrial, institutional or other properties in developed areas. Fires can occur in any community, and pose a threat year round.


Unfortunately, fires have plagued Benton County throughout its existence. Many structures have been lost to fire over the years, including government buildings, businesses, agricultural structures, churches, and Benton County Fairgrounds facilities major fire destroyed much of downtown Sauk Rapids in July of 1956.

Fires have occurred throughout the entire county. However, fires are more probable in cities due to the density and number of both residential and commercial structures.

Wildfires or structural fires can occur at random throughout the entire county, so most of the county’s population is potentially at risk from fire.

The cities are the most at risk from fires, due to the density of structures. The major wildfire risk in the county is in the northwestern section of the county, where there exist many coniferous woodlands.

Source: Minnesota Hazard Mitigation Plan

Additional Resources

Protecting your property from Fire (FEMA)