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Local officials ask people to be mindful when burning outdoors

While we may be months removed from one of the driest summers in recent memory, local officials are asking people to be mindful when burning trash and other items outdoors.

Denise Brew, emergency manager for Dunn County, said the county follows the fire danger rating every day. If the rating is at blue or green, burning is allowed, but according to the county's burn ban there are no large garbage pits or controlled burns allowed at this time. A map of the rating is available atwww.nd.gov/des/planning/fire-danger-awareness.

"There's a lot of farmers, ranchers that would like to burn their garbage pits, but we're still waiting for ample moisture. Yes, we did receive snow (Tuesday), but Saturday we're supposed to have 40 degrees, which means the minute it hits 40 degrees we're right back down to the brown dry pasture grass," she said. "Until I can tell you we have a foot or 18 inches of snow on the ground I'm still going to worry. Now we have a snow cover, so I'm not worried today, but by Saturday I'm going to be worried again."

Brew said she has been in contact with fire chiefs who have also expressed concern.

People who have burn barrels or a small pile of items are permitted to burn, but large garbage pits are not permitted at this time.

"What happens is they'll light those pits and sometimes they'll burn for a month," she said. "If they lit it today and Saturday it's 40 degrees and it's brown again and then on Monday the wind is blowing at 50 mph and there's sparks again, we have potential for a grass fire."

Dickinson fire chief Bob Sivak said open burning of trash in the city is always prohibited.

"The only type of burning that's allowed in city limits is confined to a container and protected by a screen to trap ashes or embers, but the burning of trash is not allowed within city limits no matter what," he said.

Keeping safe indoors

In addition to keeping safe outdoors while burning items outdoors, it is also important to stay safe decorating indoors.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2011-2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 200 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of sixth deaths, 16 injuries, and $14.8 million in direct property damage annually.

When picking a christmas tree, people should choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched. They should also make sure the tree is at least three feet away from

any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. Adding water to the tree stand daily is also important, the NPFA

The NFPA also recommends people be careful with their holiday decorations and should choose ones that are flame resistant or flame retardant. Lit candles should be away from decorations and other things that can burn. According to data from the NFPA, two of every five home decoration fires are started by candles and nearly half of decoration fires happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat source.

People should also be aware of whether lights are made for indoor or outdoor use, any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connectors should be replaced. Clips, not nails, should be used to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged, the NFPA said.

Smoke alarms should also be tested before inviting guests over and people should stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetops.

When picking a christmas tree, people should choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched. They should also make sure the tree is at least three feet away from

any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. Adding water to the tree stand daily is also important, the NPFA.

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook started working as the multimedia editor for The Press in January 2016.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

(701) 456-1207
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