Dry conditions require extra fireworks caution

Fireworks vendors set up.jpg
Fireworks vendors set up Monday, June 29, 2020, in Jamestown to sell there goods over the next few days. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Dry conditions and fireworks could potentially be a bad combination, according to Sheldon Mohr, training officer for the Jamestown Fire Department,

"You definitely want to be careful," he said. "Keep an extinguishing agent with you, a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher, if you do fireworks."

Fireworks can be purchased and detonated in Jamestown from July 1 to July 5 from noon to 11 p.m. On the evening of July 4, the legal hours to discharge fireworks are extended to 1 a.m. on July 5.

"We just ask that everyone respect their neighbors and follow the hours provided in the ordinance," said Scott Edinger, Jamestown chief of police. "Not everyone has the same appreciation for fireworks, and they can be a source of real stress for some. We will be actively enforcing our city ordinance."


The danger of fire extends beyond possible ignition from fireworks in grassy areas, according to Rick Woehl, assistant chief of the Jamestown Rural Fire Department.

"Definitely a danger of grassfires now," he said. "We had a little green up from early spring but that is gone. It is dangerously dry."

Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager and 911 coordinator, said the fire danger in Stutsman County has been varying between low and moderate for the last few days.

"People will have to be very aware of how dry it is," he said. "People who consider using fireworks need to monitor the fire danger index and be aware of their surroundings."

Stutsman County's burn ordinance prohibits activities that can produce a spark for potential ignition of a fire when the fire danger index is very high or extreme or if the National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning. The county burn ordinance is in effect in all of Stutsman County outside the Jamestown city limits. Violations are punishable by a fine of up to $1,500.

The North Dakota Forest Service issued a press release Monday saying the fire danger index is based on how difficult a fire would be to control once it gets started.

"Conditions will vary depending on many factors that impact the fuels, such as relative humidity and wind," the Forest Service said regarding current grass conditions. "Currently, many areas in North Dakota still have some green grass that is holding moisture despite the drought."

The Forest Service warned that conditions can change quickly. Updates to the fire danger index are issued every day at 6 a.m. and throughout the day as conditions change. The fire danger is noted at the top of the Stutsman County website or through the Stutsman County Communications Center at 252-1000.


Bergquist said there are potential liability issues if someone's activities, even if the action is not in violation of the law, result in a fire that causes damage.

"Everyone needs to be aware of their surroundings when shooting fireworks," he said. "You are responsible for what happens."

A community fireworks display titled "Rockin' the Buffalo" will be held at 10 p.m. on July 4th. The display is sponsored by Dale’s Auto Mall, Memory Fireworks and Jbros-n-Me Flea Market. The display is planned for the flea market location on the west side of Jamestown.

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