No one was happier to see the first April showers than the firefighters at the Minnesota Department of Resources.

Fire season came early this this year. The state had burned 447 times by the middle of the month, by the DNR's count. Wildfires. Brush fires. Flames licking along roadside ditches, spread by an unsecured truck chain bouncing and sparking along the asphalt.

By the first week of April, the National Weather Service had issued red flag warnings for 32 western counties at extreme fire risk.

"Hot, dry and windy," said Alex Gehrig, acting wildfire prevention supervisor for the DNR. "When conditions are right, just about anything can start" a wildfire.

Especially in the spring, he said, when there's no snow on the ground and no leaves on the trees. All that dead vegetation on the ground might as well be kindling.

Recent rain and coming storms have shifted red-flag conditions to orange and yellow. Much of the state remains in drought and at elevated fire risk, but not tinder-dry. That buys fire safety officials time to plead, once again, for Minnesotans to take care.

"A chainsaw hitting a rock on the ground has started a fire. Somebody's trailer chains that are hanging a little too low on the pavement send a spark into the ditch and off it goes. That started a big fire," Gehrig said. "Our number one cause of wildfires is people."

Humans started 98% of the wildfires in Minnesota last year. We burn brush and leaves on our property and forget to extinguish every ember. We leave campfires smoldering. We toss cigarette butts out the car window. That carelessness cost the state $23 million for DNR firefighting and fire prevention last year.

As firefighters battle the flames, ranging from small flare-ups to fires that spread across acres, sometimes they also have to battle a new airborne menace that can swoop in to get a closer look at the flames — and get in the way of the people trying to put those flames out: Drones.

"Folks want to see the fire, so they'll send up drones," Gehrig said. "And if we have to call in air resources to do reconnaissance or drop water and we see a drone, we have to send them away. They're not allowed to come within the environment if there's a drone in the air. And that can lead to [a wildfire] spreading faster, potentially damaging more stuff and potentially putting our firefighters at risk."

Fighting fire is hard enough without adding drones to the mix.

In 2007, a campfire sparked a blaze that burned almost 26,000 acres of the Superior National Forest. Extinguishing the fire cost nearly $12 million. A few years later, a wildfire tore across thousands of acres in Becker, Hubbard and Wadena in 2013, destroying 12 homes, 43 outbuildings and three businesses.

Minnesotans caused more than a third of last year's wildfires while burning leaves and debris on their property. Arson and incendiaries — like fireworks on a bone-dry Fourth of July — were responsible for about a quarter of the fires, by the DNR's count.

"If you've lit something on fire, just make sure it's out cold," Gehrig said.

Otherwise, the job — and the risk — of putting out your fire gets passed along to volunteer firefighters and the DNR.

The cost of extinguishing a wildfire that burns less than half an acre of unpopulated land can run to almost $500. When they trace the fire back to its source and find your backyard burn barrel, they just might pass the bill along to you.