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Spark singes 300 acres in Gladstone wildfire

A fencing maintenance job turned into a wildfire this past weekend in Gladstone, causing more than 300 acres in damages.

Gladstone Fire.jpg
At approximately 4:15 p.m. Saturday, March 20, the Gladstone Fire Department received a call about a stray spark that had turned into a 1.5 mile long blaze. (Courtesy of Gladstone Fire Department/Gladstone Fire Department Facebook)

A fencing maintenance job turned into a wildfire this past weekend in Gladstone, damaging more than 300 acres.

At approximately 4:15 p.m. Saturday, March 20, the Gladstone Fire Department received a call about a fire that started after a stray spark made contact with dry, brittle grass, which quickly morphed into what Gladstone Fire Chief Joe Wanner estimated to be a 1.5-mile-long blaze.

“A person around there was doing some maintenance and a spark got away on them. It was an accident. ... It was general maintenance on a farm,” Wanner said.

The fire took approximately 2.5 hours to fully extinguish, Wanner said.

Southwestern North Dakota could experience more wildfires as temperatures warm up, Wanner said. With the current conditions, southwest North Dakota is in California-level danger regarding wildfires, especially with rising temperatures, low precipitation levels and grass conditions, he said

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With the dry weather, grass fires during a drought are harder to contain, Wanner said, adding that wind and fuel also contributed to the blaze. Dry tinder grass is only second to gasoline when it comes to starting fires, he added.

“This thing will light up in a second… It moves rapidly. It’s not just a small, slow burn; it’ll be out of your control within seconds,” Wanner said.

The Gladstone Fire Department received backup from neighboring departments including Taylor, Richardton and Regent in Hettinger County as well as Stark County, which supplied water, according to the Gladstone Fire Department’s Facebook page. Local farmers also lent a hand with tractors.

Wanner didn’t rule out evacuations as a possibility if severe drought conditions continue. However, Wanner said he hasn’t seen any evacuations in his entire career.

Stark County issued a burn ban March 2 , which prohibits any burning activity involving outdoor fires. The burn ban in Stark County has a penalty of up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine. Several counties have also issued burn bans, including Hettinger and Burleigh, according to the state of North Dakota’s Burn Ban Restrictions and Fire Danger Map page .

Wanner advised residents to call their local authorities with any questions or concerns they may have pertaining to outdoor burning. For more information, call the Gladstone Fire Department at 503-557-2776.

Related Topics: FIRESDICKINSONDROUGHT
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