Fire danger high; Rain in the forecast
The grassland fire danger index crept up to “high” for Stutsman County and eastern North Dakota over the weekend, as temperatures stayed high and dry conditions prevailed across the state.
“Just make sure to be cognizant of the weather conditions, and if it’s dry, don’t burn anything,” advised Brian Paulson, assistant fire chief with the Jamestown Fire Department.
Anyone who does a controlled burn should be sure to call ahead to the Law Enforcement Center to let dispatchers know where and when the burn will be, Paulson added.
The fire danger index is meant to show the likelihood that a fire will grow out of control, said Bill Abeling, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Bismarck office.
The index uses information on weather conditions, including heat, wind, relative humidity, cloud cover and precipitation — as well as information on the dryness of grasses — to assign one of five ratings to each county.
Those ratings are low, moderate, high, very high and extreme, with extreme meaning “critical burning conditions” and low meaning that any fires igniting would likely not spread quickly.
On Sunday, Stutsman County and all the counties surrounding it were given a “high” rating, meaning “potential for moderate and occasional high rate of spread for fires that ignite.”
Western North Dakota had a “very high” rating, meaning it had “potential for rapid spreading and erratic behavior for fires that ignite.”
Abeling said that there had been grass fires in various parts of the state due to the lack of green-up.
“This early spring is a time of year that’s quite sensitive. There’s been almost no green-up yet,” Abeling said.
Because temperatures were expected to drop by 15 degrees today, the fire index was expected to either remain the same or drop one category for the area, he added.
“We’re in a situation where we should be aware that … maybe this wouldn’t be a good day to drive through weeds with a hot muffler,” Abeling said. “… the higher the fire danger the more people should be aware that they should adjust their behavior accordingly.”
Most likely, the fire danger index will get better as temperatures begin to drop this week, he added.
The forecast shows today’s high as 59 degrees, with a low of 33, and Tuesday’s high is 63, with a low of 42 degrees.
The chance of precipitation Tuesday is 70 percent, with a 40 percent chance of showers on Wednesday and Thursday.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org