Firefighters contain blazeLocal firefighters were on the scene of another blaze early Monday, but the news was generally good for officials fighting western North Dakota fires.
By: Bryan Horwath, The Dickinson Press
Local firefighters were on the scene of another blaze early Monday, but the news was generally good for officials fighting western North Dakota fires.
A rouge power line set a hayfield afire on property just south of Dickinson, said Dickinson Rural Fire Department Chief Andy Paulson.
The call came in before 10 a.m. for a fire in a field behind the Larry and Judi Schnell residence, just south of the Dickinson city limits.
“A power line arched and gave off a spark, which started the fire,” Paulson said. “We got it contained pretty quickly and were there for about three hours.”
Paulson said the approximate 3-acre fire did not cause damage to any structures and there were no injuries.
“I was out doing chores and I noticed some smoke,” Judi Schnell said. “I thought somebody must be burning something, which didn’t seem very smart to me, but then I noticed how close it was and called it in. I’m just thankful our neighbor’s corn crop wasn’t damaged at all.”
Leonard Hibl of Roughrider Electric Cooperative said it was likely that the presence of blackbirds on a power line caused two lines to touch, which would have caused the initial spark.
Meanwhile, north of Dickinson, the Little Swallow blaze on the Berthold Indian Reservation had been 100 percent contained, said Bureau of Indian Affairs spokeswoman Nedra Darling. The Little Swallow started on Wednesday and burned about 10,000 acres, said Darling.
“We’re happy to report that the fire is completely contained and that there were no injuries and no structural damage,” Darling said. “The people that are still there are dong mop-up and checking for hot spots.”
Crews from the Three Affiliated Tribes, Northern Cheyenne Reservation, Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. and North Dakota Forest Service assisted in the firefighting effort.
The Cottonwood Creek fire in the Dakota Prairie Grassland area northwest of Grassy Butte, however, continued to cause problems for firefighters in the rolling Badlands terrain near the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
When reached Monday afternoon, Grassy Butte firefighter Butch Fleck said progress was being made, though the blaze remained unpredictable.
“It looks a lot better at this point,” Fleck said. “But (Sunday) night at dark, it flared up again and engulfed another tree. At this point, I don’t think it will be completely out until it snows, but we’re getting there.”
Fleck said BIA that had been working on the Little Swallow had come to lend a hand with the Cottonwood Creek blaze, which was also aided over the weekend by the presence of smoke jumpers and water-dropping helicopters.
Officially, the fire was listed as 30 percent contained and had 91 firefighting personnel working on the blaze, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
“At this point, it’s safe to say this fire was human-caused,” Dakota Prairie Grasslands Public Affairs Officer Babete Anderson said. “The investigation into the cause is on-going.”
As of Monday, Anderson said the Cottonwood Creek fire — which started Friday — had consumed 665 acres. Several people staying at Bennett Campground were evacuated by the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Department late last week, but no structural damage has been reported.
Also over the weekend, the Killdeer Fire Department responded to a fire about 16 miles north of town. Killdeer Fire Chief Chuck Muscha said the small blaze was quickly contained.