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Burgum proclaims statewide fire and drought emergency

BISMARCK — Gov. Doug Burgum proclaimed a statewide fire and drought emergency on Monday evening. He also ordered that all state agencies maintain high levels of readiness.

The executive order activates the State Emergency Operations Plan and authorizes Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard, to activate the Guard if needed to support local and tribal governments, the governor said in a press release.

Extremely dry conditions, lack of precipitation and high winds have created a fire emergency in North Dakota and have had a detrimental impact on livestock water supplies, crop and pasture conditions, the release stated. Last week's U.S. Drought Monitor report showed 8 percent of the state in extreme drought, 32 percent in severe drought, 27 percent in moderate drought and 33 percent abnormally dry. Conditions are not expected to improve in the near future, the release stated.

"These conditions present a serious threat to the health and safety of local area citizens and their personal property," Burgum said of the fire danger. "Significant manpower and equipment will be required for response and recovery operations."

The risk of wildfires also has increased much earlier than normal, with 30 counties issuing emergency declarations, burn bans or other fire restrictions so far. An active, prolonged fire season will likely challenge the capacity of local volunteer fire departments, the release stated.

With conditions deteriorating, Burgum last week directed the Department of Emergency Services and other state agencies to coordinate drought and wildfire planning and response through a unified command structure. The group held its first official meeting Monday.

More information on drought/wildfire conditions, including which counties have burn bans and fireworks restrictions in place, is available at NDresponse.gov.

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