Burn bans continue in some counties
There will be no chestnuts roasting over an open fire this Christmas season -- at least not in six southwest North Dakota counties.
Officials in Billings, Stark, Slope, Hettinger, Bowman and Adams counties have decided to continue to operate the current burn bans that have been in place since earlier this year, even though North Dakota's fire season typically only runs from April to October.
Billings County commissioners approved a burn ban in September at the request of the fire chief, and Slope and Bowman counties also put burn bans in place at that time, according to information from the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.
Also, Grant, Hettinger and Stark counties all reissued burn bans in March, based on information from the NDDES.
Violating a burn ban is a Class B misdemeanor and it carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Bowman County assistant director of emergency management Karla Germann said that Bowman County followed the fire index up until the end of September.
"Then, we just put a straight burn ban in place for the county at that time, which meant that there could be no burning at all," she said.
In early November, Dunn County lifted a burn ban that had been in place since August.
But residents are warned to exercise extreme caution when doing an open burn even with the ban lifted, according to the county's website.
Pat Rummel, Billings County emergency manager, said in September that it was hard to say when Billings County's burn ban would be lifted because it depended on when the county received a significant amount of precipitation that would lessen the chances of fires burning out of control.
Germann could not say if this is the longest a burn ban has ever been in place for Bowman County.
But even with winter settling in and the mercury not rising quite as high, she said the fire danger posed by dry conditions continues to be a concern for local officials.
Germann said the cooler temperatures in the winter may keep fires from burning as rapidly as they would when the weather is warmer, but the fire in Bucyrus in October was proof that conditions are still ripe for sparking fires in the area.
"It is the fire chief's call on how much precipitation will be needed in order to lift the burn ban, and the chief's said it won't happen until there is a significant snowfall," she said. "Between the fire chief and the County Commission, they would be the ones to determine when the ban can be lifted."