Magpie Fire

Photo submitted by West Dunn Fire Department Chief, Ryan Hauck

Fire has been on the minds of many in the past few months. Many things can start a fire in drought conditions like these, but the key is to catch it as early as possible to help contain it and prevent a serious case like the Magpie Fire that recently took place in Grassy Butte.

Nicole Nowitzki

Dunn County Herald

Ryan Hauck, Fire Chief of the West Dunn Fire District, shared the department’s experience while aiding the Grassy Butte Volunteer Fire Department.

Hauck recalled, “West Dunn Fire was paged out Saturday night, between 9:30 and 10:00 for a mutual aid request by Grass Butte’s Chief, Kyle Cherenko. After talking to him on the phone, we dispatched three grass rigs and a tanker to assist because we would be holding down the east side of the fire. Upon arrival, we were staged approximately two to three miles from the fire as it was headed thru the brush and draws towards us. Due to the terrain in the Badlands, we were asked to wait at that point to attack the fire. Shortly after staging, wind switched, and we were redeployed to help with efforts on the north and west ends of the fire. Fire breaks where created with heavy equipment which helped slow the fires progression. The wind was also a factor as it switched again, during the night. West Dunn was paged out for a call while assisting Grassy Butte, early Sunday morning. Luckily, it was just an oil flare, someone saw in the distance. Since containment lines were intact, West Dunn was able to send a few trucks home. From Saturday night until Monday night, West Dunn was able to man two grass units and assist with the fire.”

Photo submitted by West Dunn Fire Department Chief, Ryan Hauck

Numerous departments and agencies assisted Grassy Butte Volunteer Fire Department. They include members from Alexander, Arneguard, Watford City, and Keene Fire Departments along with U.S forest service and BLM units. The fire burned over 5,000 acres, and two counties were involved as Billings County Fire Districts covered the south end and Mckenzie County Fire Districts covered the others.

The communities came together to help support each other. Hauck stated, “While on scene, people were driving around with food and drink for those on the fire line. A lot of these people where the local citizens, whose spouse was on the fire line, as well. They were making sure people were taken care of, even if the fire had not affected them personally.” Countless businesses donated goods, citizens made meals, and people came from all around to try to keep all of the fire fighters fed and prevent dehydration during this extreme heat we’ve been experiencing lately.

The Chief went on to say, “Due to the extreme conditions, if you have a fire or see a fire, please call right away. Also, please stay clear of all fire scenes as we don’t need rubberneckers in the way of responding emergency vehicles and personal. This is for your safety and the safety of others.”

At this point, the fire is 90-95% contained, and we are thankful that no one was injured, homes and animals were safe, and it was in a location that did not require evacuations. Thank you to all of the fire department personnel and districts that risk their lives to keep North Dakota safe!


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