BISMARCK — The statewide drought has magnified the impact of wildfires in North Dakota.
Nearly 1,400 fires have burned through over 100,000 acres across the state since January, according to the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services and the North Dakota Forest Service.
This is a dramatic increase from last year, when there were just over 900 wildfires that scorched almost 12,000 acres statewide.
Two of the biggest fires happened in May, when a fire in Medora burned more than 4,600 acres, and a fire on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation burned nearly 10,000 acres.
Tom Claeys, North Dakota's state forester, said low moisture and warm temperatures are factors in the size and quantity of the fires, as the state has experienced some of the driest winter and spring months in 127 years of recordkeeping.
“This year, it’s imperative that we all know how to mitigate against wildfires, especially as we make plans to enjoy the summer months by recreating outside with friends and family,” Claeys said in a news release.
As of Tuesday, June 15, 15 counties are still under a 'very high' risk for fire danger — including Grand Forks, Walsh and Morton Counties — according to North Dakota's fire danger map.