The Stutsman County Commission authorized a fire emergency declaration in Stutsman County Tuesday.

Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager and 911 coordinator, said the emergency declaration is separate from the county's burn ordinance that prohibits open fires in the county whenever the fire danger rating is very high or extreme or when the National Weather Service issues a red flag warning.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum declared a statewide fire emergency April 1 because of drought conditions. At the time, a grass fire was threatening Medora in western North Dakota. Jamestown Rural Fire Department has responded to a number of grass fires in the Jamestown area including a blaze that burned more than 500 acres on April 3 in the Spiritwood Lake area. That fire was fought by multiple local fire departments.

The fire emergency declaration is intended to raise public awareness, said Andrew Kirkin, newly hired Stutsman County emergency manager who is working alongside Bergquist temporarily.

"The emergency declaration makes the public aware of how dire the situation is," he said. "It may open us to potential federal or state funding in the future."

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The fire emergency declaration is open-ended at this time, Bergquist said.

The commission also offered a compromise regarding the bridge on First Street in Jamestown. Ownership of the bridge is disputed between Stutsman County and the city of Jamestown.

Klose proposed splitting the cost of the inspection between the city and county in the short term and to work together with the city to determine the permanent ownership and responsibility for the bridge.

A bridge at that location was removed during the 1990s at the request of the city of Jamestown due to floodwater issues. A new bridge was built at the First Street location in 2016. It was dedicated to James "Jimmie" Carlascio, a local veteran and advocate for veterans in Jamestown.