Hettinger County has declared a county-wide burn ban, even if the local signs show the fire danger is in the low (green) or moderate (blue) end of the dial.
According to Tracy Kruger, the Hettinger County Emergency manager, the ban is active when the fire threat displayed publicly is not in the low or moderate zone. That can mean residents can be charged with a crime if they burn when the ban is in effect.
The ban becomes active when the display shows the conditions are in the yellow (high), orange (very high) or red (extreme danger) zone.
The Board of Hettinger County Commissioners made the announcement April 9 that there would be a county-wide ban on the ignition of fireworks, garbage burning, campfires, and the burning of farm or crop lands.
In addition, the announcement also banned all unnecessary off-road motorized travel ban when the Rangeland Fire Index is in the High, Very High or Extreme category or when there is a red flag warning.
Hettinger wasn’t the first of North Dakota’s western counties to declare a ban on burning. It’s neighbor to the north, Stark County declared a burn ban a week ago, citing the weather and wind conditions.
According to county officials, any individual who willfully violates the burn ban will be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor with a possible sentence of 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.
On April 15, almost all of the western counties in the state were listed a high fire danger. The list of counties experiencing a high fire danger include: Adams, Bowman, Billings, Dunn, Golden Valley, Slope, Stark, McKenzie, Morton, Oliver, Mercer, McLean, McHenry, Ward, Montrail, Williams, Burke, Renville and Bottineau.
But changing weather conditions can also change the fire danger from day to day.
By Tuesday, the state site showing the fire danger had dropped the number of counties still in high fire danger to just a few. The NDResponse.gov site showed all of western North Dakota as a moderate (blue) risk of fire, with only three (Roulette, Towner and Pierce) as “high” on the danger dial.
Still, the state has 12 counties with burn bans in effect, with eight in the western half of the state (Divide, Williams, Mountrail, McKenzie, Dunn, Stark, Hettinger and Morton).
The danger ratings and maps are updated each morning and during the day when needed.
The local fire departments will have the current information regarding any restrictions in the area.
According to Kruger, it is important residents follow the guidelines for fires.
“Hettinger County also has a procedure in place for those who want to have a controlled burn on their property,” she announced. “You need to contact State Radio at either 1-800-472-2121 or 1-701-328-9921 before you begin to burn.
“You will need to provide the following information: 1. Name; 2. The location where the burning is taking place; 3. What is being burned i.e. a field, garbage pit, tree piles, etc; 4. What time you plan to burn; 5. How long you expect it will take to burn; 6. A contact number where you can be reached.
According to Kruger, the Sheriff’s Office is then notified of the location of the burn. The Sheriff’s Office will contact the fire chief of that district to let them know where the burn is located,” she said.
“This allows State Radio to know there is a controlled burn and if someone calls stating that they see a large fire or smoke, State Radio knows that is the area of the controlled burn and will not call the fire departments unnecessarily. This procedure ensures our volunteer fire departments are not called unless there is a real emergency,” Kruger added.
“Once the fire is out, you need to contact State Radio to inform them the fire is completely out,” stressed Kruger.