April showers bring May flowers, but what happens when you don’t get the showers to begin with? Dunn County residents, as well as most North Dakotans, find themselves checking on fire danger indexes and looking for smoke in the sky.
Dunn County Commissioners put in place a fire emergency burn ban for the county on April 15 because of the lack of moisture and all of the dry grass in the county. Because it has been so dry and windy, the countryside seemed to take longer to green up than usual. “Right now everyone is seeing this because it is dry and we need a measurable amount of rain. A half inch isn’t enough,” said Dun County Emergency Manager Denise Brew.
The Fire Danger Rating by the US Forest Services has five ratings: low, moderate, high, very high and extreme. The rating is based on grassland moisture, temperature forecast, humidity and wind speed. The danger is evaluated every morning, but because of weather changes the rating could change throughout the day. There are fire signs in Manning and the fire halls in Dunn County. Those signs are monitored but Brew suggests double checking to save getting a ticket. The first offense of the burn ban is a Class B misdemeanor with up to 30 days in jail and $1,500 fine.
Brew urged residents to be careful in all situations and if there are any questions to call the fire authority in their jurisdiction. “We have really good support from the county road department by using their water trucks and they keep them filled. Oilfield companies have always helped too,” added Brew.
Brew’s best advice is to use common sense and if residents see smoke call 911 and then investigate. “With this wind sooner is better than later for an emergency call,” she said.