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Red flag warning, temporary fire ban issued in SW North Dakota

Grass fire
Farmers create a fire break around a grass fire southwest of Richardton.
Contributed / Kalen Ost / AP
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DICKINSON — Restrictions on burning in southwest North Dakota have been implemented as dry weather conditions prompted 'red flag' warnings for southwest and south central North Dakota. The National Weather Service in Bismarck specified the warning was active from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.

The fire danger rating in Slope, Hettinger, Bowman and Adams Counties was very high on Nov. 2. The fire rating was high in Stark, Dunn, Billings and Golden Valley Counties.

“So anything with an open flame, you can't have, but propane is okay,” Hettinger County Sheriff Sarah Warner said. “Briquettes still have embers and stuff like that. You know, if for some reason one of those briquettes were to get out they could start a fire on your grass.”

Large controlled burns and garbage pit fires are not allowed in Stark County at this time, according to a press release from Stark County Emergency Management.

“The burn restriction includes the ignition of fireworks, tree branches, cropland burning, garbage burning, campfires and unnecessary off-road motorized travel,” the press release stated. “Excluded from the burn restriction, when in effect, are gas grills and pellet smokers. When using gas grills or pellet smokers, the unit must be on a non-combustible surface and monitored at all times.”

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James Telken, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck, said cooler temperatures and precipitation in the coming days will improve conditions.

“When the temperature has dropped, relative humidity will rise,” Telken said. “Winds usually also tend to start to drop at that time. I believe today they actually kind of stick up just because you have a front going through. But that front will also bring cooler air, which helps increase relative humidity and brings things out of fire danger.”

Nikita Lorenzen, Stark County assistant emergency manager, explained in an email to The Dickinson Press that no fires had been reported in the county Wednesday morning.

“There has been a couple fires reported in the past couple months,” Lorenzen stated. “Those fires have been contained in a timely manner.”

Warner said people should be especially vigilant about overgrown section lines.

“Actually, our burn ban does say any unnecessary off road motorized travel is prohibited,” she said. “Just be mindful and maybe have a fire extinguisher with you, just to be on the safe side in case something happens. We've had a few combine fires this year already.”

Open burning, recreational fires and fireworks are prohibited during red flag warnings. Burning of controlled devices is allowed only when the device is 15 feet away from dry vegetation and on a hard non-organic surface. A fire extinguisher or water should be nearby. Smoking is restricted to inside of homes, approved buildings, vehicles, or hard surface areas. All recreational off-road travel of vehicles is restricted to land owners and facility owners or their employees who need to maintain property, crops, and livestock.

Ashley Koffler is a Killdeer, North Dakota native and Dickinson State University graduate, with a Bachelor’s Degree in writing, and minors in journalism and psychology. Formerly working in Community Affairs for Roosevelt Custer Regional Council for Development, her reporting focuses on the Dickinson city government, community features, business and agriculture — among others.
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