Posted 4/21/15 (Tue)
By Neal A. Shipman
While many people think that fire danger only exists in the fall of the year when the grass dries out, they are wrong. Spring can be one of the worst times for fires, and this past week proved the point as dozens of grass fires erupted across North Dakota.
If you look at just a few of the fires last week, you will quickly realize the severity of the dry conditions around the state and how serious the fire danger is in North Dakota until we receive some significant rainfall.
• A semi truck’s conveyor spewed small chunks of burning charcoal along a 60-mile stretch of I-29 in eastern North Dakota that resulted in dozens of fires. One of the fires resulted in a multi-vehicle pile-up that sent eight injured people to the hospital in Grand Forks.
• A fire north of Minot burned 100 acres and came close to an uninhabited rural school
• A fire broke out near the Tesoro oil refinery in Mandan.
• An Oliver County wildfire scorched 5,000 acres, or nearly eight square miles.
• A large fire caused by an abandoned campfire on the Missouri River bottoms threatened the University of Mary south of Bismarck and forced the evacuation of the entire campus.
• A flare from an oil well in McKenzie County burned over 3,000 acres in the vicinity of the Tobacco Gardens Recreation Area.
• Multiple fire departments responded to a massive grass fire in southwest Wahpeton that broke out behind an apartment building and forced the evacuation of a mobile home park.
Folks, it is extremely dry in North Dakota this spring, which is why Gov. Dalrymple has issue a statewide fire ban through the end of April.
And with the high winds that we have been experiencing across most of the state, the conditions are ripe for any small fire rapidly becoming a very large fire.
So, be careful with fires. Our firemen across the state will thank you. And so will your neighbors.