Wildfires have ravaged North Dakota as a result of dry and windy conditions, already burning tens of thousands of acres. With the help of some recent rain and snow, we did get some relief.
Four months into 2021 and fires have burned more than 45,000 acres of land in North Dakota. While experts say a dollar amount is hard to estimate, Beth Hill from the Forest Service says there are several causes for financial impacts.
She said, “We could have some losses for equipment. I know with the fire up near Williston, they had an entire engine that was lost. And another fire there was a rollover that totaled the vehicle as well.”
Any moisture is certainly welcome, as we are still well below where we need to be.
Allen Schlag, a hydrologist from the National Weather Service office in Bismarck, said, “Overall, we’re maybe at 30 hundredths of moisture for the month, which is not an awful lot.”
Bismarck currently sits at half of its average monthly total for precipitation. We are also only one-third of where we should be for the year. The dry vegetation helps fuel many of these wildfires.
Hill said, “We see debris burning and equipment use as our top two causes of wildfire.”
As the weather heats up, other causes of wildfires begin to arise.
Schlag said, “When we get into the warmer season and we start seeing thunderstorms materialize, it would be nice to have some green grass out there so that we don’t get lightning strike fires. That is going to be a concern maybe as we get into the middle part of summer, I think.”
Some climate models are currently showing a good chance of a dry pattern going into summer.
Schlag said, “As we get into July and August, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if we don’t see the advent of our late summer fire season, early this year.” This could mean summer celebrations may look a little different this year.
“That would include, perhaps, fireworks bans, the whole 9 yards,” said Schlag. Heading into the summer, experts say to be aware of fire dangers that may be present.
Hill said, “We’re always just advocating for people to learn before they burn. Make sure they check out the ND response web page to learn more about your area’s local burn bans, any other fire restrictions or the fire danger going on.”