Keep the gear ready....the fire season in ND is about to extend.


BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A state Forestry Service official says if
dry conditions persist he may ask Gov. John Hoeven to issue a
statewide burning ban because of an unusually high threat of
wildfires.
Mike Santucci, the state's fire management coordinator, said the
dry spring is creating a fire season that will run about four weeks
longer than normal.
"Ordinarily, we're seeing significant green-up by this time and
a decline in our wildfires, but we've had a convergence of several
different events," Santucci said.
"Of course, we had a dry, open winter. It was relatively mild
and it didn't recharge the soil moisture adequately, and then, when
we finally did get some cool temperatures, that actually delayed
green-up this spring. and as a result, we have an abundance of
available fuels out there, ready to feed any wildlife that
starts."
Fire crews spent most of Tuesday night battling a large grass
fire 11 miles south of Mandan, Rural Fire Chief John Bullinger
said.
Bullinger a man started burning stubble outside, then apparently
left the area, and the wind picked up some of the hot embers and
threw them on tall, older grass.
No one was hurt in the fire. But Bullinger said it burned at
least 50 acres.
"If they have to burn, I would suggest they watch it all day,"
Bullinger said. "This guy evidently lit this and left. The best
thing to do is not to burn this time of year ... as dry as the
conditions are right now. At least, wait until we get some rain or
something."
Santucci said 90 percent of the fires in the state are started
by humans.
"If you take a look at the fire reports submitted by the fire
chiefs across the state, the leading cause of wildfires in our
state is what we classify as debris burning, and that includes
burning of ditches, people's burn barrels, agriculture burning,"
Santucci said.


(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press