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Editorial - Yes Virginia, there is a total burn ban in effect

A total burn ban is in effect in most of southwestern North Dakota, and in Stark County you now can expect to be prosecuted for open burning during the ban.

A total burn ban is in effect in most of southwestern North Dakota, and in Stark County you now can expect to be prosecuted for open burning during the ban.

The confusion associated with what should be done when an individual in the county ignores the existing total burn ban is now clarified, thanks in part to our questioning. As we have reported several times since the total burn ban was implemented in Stark County on April 1, fires have been started by individuals, but they were not charged for violating the ban.

Stark County State's Attorney Tom Henning has addressed the confusion among county fire departments and law enforcement and makes it clear in our story from this past Friday: "The information concerning the burn ban has been available for a suitable amount of time and violations are being prosecuted."

Stark County Emergency Manager Gary Kostelecky and city of Dickinson Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bob Sivak also got their heads together to further define what isn't allowed under the total burn ban. As reported in Saturday's page 1 story in the Press:

*Open burning is defined as burning of materials wherein products of combustion are emitted directly into the air without passing through a stack or chimney from an enclosed chamber.

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*Open burning is not allowed within the city of Dickinson.

*Natural gas and propane grills are allowed, so long as they are used correctly and on a flat surface.

*Charcoal grills are not allowed during a total burn ban due to the possibility of ash or embers being carried by the wind and igniting a fire.

*Chimineas and fire pits are not to be used within city limits during a total burn ban.

*Patio torches should not be used during a total burn ban.

These restrictions apply to all residents of Stark County, including those living in cities.

We've reported for some time about the ongoing drought we find ourselves in. We've talked on this page about using common sense when being outdoors in these extremely dry conditions, whether you are hunting, working or living.

Since the Stark County total burn ban was implemented, we've prominently published over a half dozen articles about fires, burn bans and the subsequent spread of those bans across the state.

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On Saturday, the state fire index sat at the very high category for the entire state with the exception of Slope, Bowman, Hettinger and Adams counties. Those four counties finally got moisture from Friday's storm that produced snow and rain that shut down Interstate 90 in western South Dakota.

But the little moisture we received Thursday in Stark County once again blew away thanks to high winds Friday. And so it still goes, and the total fire ban remains.

Any questions?

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