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Sparks from barrel burning caused Thursday grass fires; one cited

DOWNER, Minn. -- Fire departments in Clay County spent hours trying to put out two preventable grass fires Thursday, Sgt. Mark Empting of the Clay County Sheriff's Office said.

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A fireman rides a four-wheeler past smoke and flames Thursday while fighting a large grass fire along Highway 9 south of Glyndon, Minn. The fire was started by a homeowner in the area burning leaves. David Samson / The Forum

DOWNER, Minn. - Fire departments in Clay County spent hours trying to put out two preventable grass fires Thursday, Sgt. Mark Empting of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office said. A large fire just north of Downer, along Highway 9, started because a man was burning in a barrel close to his shop, Empting said. A spark lit some nearby grass and the ensuing fire burned down the shop. The fire was one of two reported at about 1 p.m., requiring the deployment of every fire department in the county, except for Moorhead’s. “That’s the first time that I can ever remember having all fire departments in the county out,” said Empting, who is also the Dilworth fire chief and has worked in the area for more than a dozen years. About five miles west of Hitterdal, firefighters from Ulen, Felton, Hitterdal and Hawley responded to a fire that burned down a structure. Someone burning in a barrel caused that fire, Empting said. The blaze ended shortly after 3 p.m.

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A fireman rides a four-wheeler past smoke and flames Thursday while fighting a large grass fire along Highway 9 south of Glyndon, Minn. The fire was started by a homeowner in the area burning leaves. David Samson / The Forum

Authorities closed Highway 9 between County Road 12 and County Road 10 at about 2 p.m. because the Downer fire was jumping across the highway and heavy smoke blocked visibility, Empting said. The highway opened up 30 to 45 minutes later. The active fire required the response from firefighters from Dilworth, Glyndon, Sabin, Hawley and Barnesville. Firefighters finished their work there at about 6 p.m., but at about 8:30, Barnesville firefighters were on their way back because of a flare-up in the shop that burned down, Empting said. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1692240","attributes":{"alt":"Fire south of Glyndon, Minn. David Samson / The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"502","title":"Fire south of Glyndon, Minn. David Samson / The Forum","width":"1024"}}]] The man who caused the Downer fire was issued a citation for having a negligent fire. Various fire departments will also be billing him for their time, said Empting, whose fire department charges $300 an hour. Lt. Steve Todd of the Sheriff’s Office said “absolutely no burning should be going on” given the weather conditions, which make it easy for fires to start and spread. Empting agreed. He said he “would strongly discourage” anybody in his Dilworth area from burning, even if they have burning permits, because of the risk of causing a large fire.DOWNER, Minn. - Fire departments in Clay County spent hours trying to put out two preventable grass fires Thursday, Sgt. Mark Empting of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office said. A large fire just north of Downer, along Highway 9, started because a man was burning in a barrel close to his shop, Empting said. A spark lit some nearby grass and the ensuing fire burned down the shop. The fire was one of two reported at about 1 p.m., requiring the deployment of every fire department in the county, except for Moorhead’s. “That’s the first time that I can ever remember having all fire departments in the county out,” said Empting, who is also the Dilworth fire chief and has worked in the area for more than a dozen years. About five miles west of Hitterdal, firefighters from Ulen, Felton, Hitterdal and Hawley responded to a fire that burned down a structure. Someone burning in a barrel caused that fire, Empting said. The blaze ended shortly after 3 p.m. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1692239","attributes":{"alt":"Fire south of Glyndon, Minn. David Samson / The Forum","class":"media-image","height":"529","title":"","width":"1024"}}]] Authorities closed Highway 9 between County Road 12 and County Road 10 at about 2 p.m. because the Downer fire was jumping across the highway and heavy smoke blocked visibility, Empting said. The highway opened up 30 to 45 minutes later. The active fire required the response from firefighters from Dilworth, Glyndon, Sabin, Hawley and Barnesville. Firefighters finished their work there at about 6 p.m., but at about 8:30, Barnesville firefighters were on their way back because of a flare-up in the shop that burned down, Empting said.

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A fireman rides a four-wheeler past smoke and flames Thursday while fighting a large grass fire along Highway 9 south of Glyndon, Minn. The fire was started by a homeowner in the area burning leaves. David Samson / The Forum

The man who caused the Downer fire was issued a citation for having a negligent fire. Various fire departments will also be billing him for their time, said Empting, whose fire department charges $300 an hour. Lt. Steve Todd of the Sheriff’s Office said “absolutely no burning should be going on” given the weather conditions, which make it easy for fires to start and spread. Empting agreed. He said he “would strongly discourage” anybody in his Dilworth area from burning, even if they have burning permits, because of the risk of causing a large fire.

Related Topics: FIRESCLAY COUNTY
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