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Grass fire near Medina burns 100 acres

MEDINA -- A grass fire a half mile north of here burned about 100 acres of land, officials said, but didn't damage any property.

The fire, which began at a honey bee farm owned by Tom Thompson of Medina, extended into two other family farms, said Jared Opp, Medina fire chief. The land was a combination of hay and pasture, he said.

"I think we were lucky we didn't get to no CRP," Opp said.

Five Medina units responded to a fire call at about 12:30 p.m. as well as three units from Cleveland for a total of about 17 firefighters, Opp said.

"Cleveland was instrumental with their mutual aid," he said.

No one was injured. The cause of the fire is under investigation, Opp said.

The grass fire near Medina on Thursday was the ninth in the county since April 4, said Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager, which is above average for this time of year.

"It's beginning to be quite a few," Bergquist said.

Fires occur every year, Bergquist said, but with the precipitation level below average and grass that hasn't turned green yet, the risk of a grass fire getting out of control increases.

"It's a time of year when people need to be extremely careful with fire," he said.

Precipitation levels for Jamestown are 1.88 inches below average, said Sam Walker, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

A 20 percent chance of precipitation is expected late Sunday and early Monday, but less than a half inch is expected to accumulate, Walker said.

This time of year as well as mid fall are at the highest risk for grass fires getting out of control, he said.

"Traditionally you have a period that's kind of a bad period," Walker said.

A burn ban is not in effect in Stutsman County, Bergquist said, but the county could get one if conditions don't improve. He said the Stutsman County Commission, county auditor and county fire chiefs were expected to meet later Thursday to decide if a burn ban should be in place.

"Burn bans are not real popular with the public," he said.

The last time the county had a burn ban was in August 2006.

To prevent fires, watch out for wind speeds of more than 20 mph, Walker said, because the winds can make a grass fire get out of control. Check with the state fire marshal for other prohibitions and restrictions, he said.

"It doesn't take much. That stuff burns hot and it burns fast," Walker said.

The Jamestown Sun and The Dickinson Press are both owned by Forum Communications Co.