With the cold weather lately, it may be hard to shift our thinking to fire danger but this is the time of year that we should. In the coming weeks, we’ll be warming significantly and that could spell fire danger with our naturally dry conditions this time of year. The snowpack is gone and dry vegetation is revealed.
If we have increased fire danger, the National Weather Service issues a Red Flag Warning. All you need for this to be issued is dry vegetation, low humidity, and strong wind. We typically get all of this by the middle of April. For the fire to begin, you need a heat source which can be warm temperatures. Sometimes it’s a lightning strike. Then you need fuel which we have in our dry brush, trees and prairie grass. You also need oxygen. Which is already abundant in the air.
Once the fire is ignited, it can spread rapidly with the strong wind we get here often. It’s important to know all of this because we have a lot of fuel laying on the ground right now across North Dakota.
There are already burn bans and restrictions put into place by local officials. Each county has its own restrictions based on local issues. Many of these were started because of the unharvested crop still in the ground from the very wet fall of 2019. We know that each year is different in North Dakota and this year, this unharvested crop can add to our heightened fire risk.
You can find the current burn bans and restrictions here: https://www.ndresponse.gov/burn-ban-restrictions-fire-danger-maps
In the state of North Dakota, if you are caught violating the burn ban, it’s Class B Misdemeanor and could land you in jail for up to 30 days with a $1,500 fine.