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Gov. Dalrymple declares statewide burn ban

If you plan to spend the warm weekend burning brush, trash or even marshmallows, think again. North Dakota now has a statewide burn ban. The governor issued order outlaws any outdoor fire without special permission. "Folks just need to be aware,"...

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Charred grass from a recent grass fire near Casselton, N.D.

If you plan to spend the warm weekend burning brush, trash or even marshmallows, think again. North Dakota now has a statewide burn ban.

The governor issued order outlaws any outdoor fire without special permission.

"Folks just need to be aware," said Cass County Emergency Manager Dave Rogness.

"Extreme winds. It blows from one direction one day and it blows the next direction the next day," said Casselton Fire Chief Tim McLean.

The winds blew a cigarette butt that sparked a grassfire, burning five acres near Casselton.

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"We're always ready for grassfires because you just never know," McLean said.

Several grass fires have already torn through the Valley.

Now Governor Jack Dalrymple is stepping in to put out the high risk.He's issued a statewide burn ban for North Dakota, potentially easing the load for volunteer departments like Casselton's that make up 96 percent of firefighters across the state.

"I wouldn't say it's unusual, but it's not typical," Rogness said of the ban.

The ban prohibits any outdoor fires when danger indexes are high, very high or extreme. Even though the Red River Valley currently sits at a moderate level, experts say you have to be careful.

"The governor's order does address that. It requires anyone in a moderate or low category, which is the entire state including Cass County right now, to coordinate with their local fire department if they intend to do any outdoor burning," Rogness said.

That means any agricultural or recreational burning, even bonfires or open-fire barbeques.

"People just need to be cautious," Rogness said.

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The burn ban is in effect until April 15. Anyone who violates it faces a class B misdemeanor punishable by 30 days in jail, and a $1,500 fine.

Related Topics: FIRES
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