String of Grassfires Hits Highway 2 in North Dakota

Firefighters from several rural departments battled what appeared to be a string of grass fires, fanned by high winds, in the median of U.S. Highway 2 from Emerado to Larimore, N.D.

The fire spread north into Grand Forks Air Force Base, burning about 15 acres on the base from 5:20 to 6:30 p.m., base officials said.

Jim Johnson, a volunteer and former chief of the Emerado Fire Department, speculated that perhaps a semitrailer with a flat tire throwing off molten rubber or dragging something causing sparks to fly might have caused the miles of spotty grass fires in the highway median. But no cause for the fires was immediately reported.

The roadside fires went as far west and north as Inkster, N.D., Johnson said.

Winds as high as 35 mph gusting from the south pushed the fire fast. But no one was injured and no real damage was done, firefighters said.

Smoke from the fires caused traffic to slow in the westbound lanes of Highway 2 for a time near the base and North Dakota Highway Patrol officers monitored the slowdown, which caused no problems, said a trooper on the scene.

Distributed by the Associated Press