BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Jack Dalrymple today declared a fire emergency for the state in response to dry conditions, unseasonably high temperatures and high winds. In his executive order, Dalrymple issued a burn ban for areas in theNorth Dakota Fire Danger Rating designated as “High,” “Very High,” or “Extreme,” and/or when a Red Flag Warning has been issued for an area. Burning will be allowed in designated areas with a “Low” or “Moderate” Fire Danger Rating if approved by the local fire response authority that has jurisdiction over the area.
The Governor also activated the North Dakota State Emergency Operations Plan to assist local and tribal officials, and implement appropriate recovery actions and future mitigation measures to limit hardships and impacts of the emergency. In addition, he authorized the Adjutant General to activate and make available North Dakota National Guard resources in support of local and tribal governments.
“In many areas of the state, the weather conditions have created a serious fire threat,” Dalrymple said. “I have directed state agencies to be at the ready if their assistance is needed, so we can help local and tribal officials in their efforts to save lives and protect property.”
Dalrymple’s executive order was issued in response to extremely dry conditions, burn ban and fire restrictions declared throughout the state, Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings issued by the National Weather Service (NWS), unseasonably warm temperatures, low humidity and high winds. The NWS documented below average snowfall and precipitation across the state with above normal temperatures, leaving many natural fuels such as tall grasses very dry and standing vertical, rather than flat as is typical for this time of year, making them more susceptible to the rapid spread of wildfires.
Weather conditions have prompted 15 counties and one tribal nation to issue fire emergency declarations and implement burn bans or other fire restrictions. Since March 13, the NWS has issued five Fire Weather Watches and five Red Flag Warnings. In response to dry conditions, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department has prohibited open burning, including campfires, on the Oahe Wildlife Management Area along both sides of the Missouri River south of Bismarck and Mandan to reduce the potential for wildfires.