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Hunters Be Aware of Dry Conditions

In recognition of extreme dry conditions in North Dakota's countryside, State Game and Fish Department officials are urging hunters to use caution while in the field this fall.

Hunters are especially encouraged to be aware of the statewide Fire Danger Index, which can restrict hunter activities. "Hunters have a proven track record of safe behavior during dry times," said Dean Hildebrand, game and fish director. "In fact, hunters in the field can help discover, report and suppress fires started by others."

Hunters should consider carrying in their vehicles shovels, fire extinguishers, extra water and heavy fabric for putting out fires, Hildebrand added. "Cell phones are most helpful. Be prepared and know where to call to report an emergency."

The Fire Danger Index is issued by the National Weather Service to alert the public to conditions that may be conducive to accidental starting or spread of fires. The Index can change from day to day depending on temperature, wind and precipitation forecasts.

It is important for outdoor enthusiasts, and rural landowners as well, to follow the Fire Danger Index guidelines listed below.

If the Fire Danger Index reaches the VERY HIGH category, the following guidelines apply:

bulletOpen Burning: Attendance and fire tools are required, and activity is restricted to early morning and late evening hours with low wind conditions.
bulletOff-Road Motorized Travel: Fire extinguishers and fire tools are recommended, and caution is urged due to the fire hazard posed from exhaust and catalytic converters.
bulletSmoking: Smokers are asked to restrict smoking to areas free of combustible materials and to use an ashtray or other proper disposal containers.
bulletFireworks: Fire extinguishers and fire tools are recommended. The public is asked to restrict the use of fireworks to late afternoon and evening hours with low wind conditions, or according to restrictions issued by local authorities.
bulletEquipment Operations: Fire extinguishers and fire tools are recommended. Farmers and ranchers are asked to conduct frequent inspections of farm machinery to reduce debris accumulation. The petroleum industry should conduct proper inspection and maintenance of equipment and confine blasting for seismic exploration by 10 feet or more of soil. Spark arresters and a 10-foot radius cleared of combustible materials are recommended for welding activities. Railroads should conduct weekly inspections of exhaust arrester systems and brakes.

If the Fire Danger Index reaches the EXTREME category, the following measures apply:

bulletOpen Burning: Open burning is prohibited.
bulletOff-Road Motorized Travel: Off-road motorized travel is prohibited except for persons engaged in a trade, business or occupation where it is required. They are required to keep a fire extinguisher and fire tools. (The off-trail restrictions would include waterfowl hunting, big-game retrieval and furbearer hunting and trapping.)
bulletSmoking: Smoking is restricted to the inside of vehicles, places of habitation and areas cleared to mineral soil. Use of ashtrays or other proper containers are required.
bulletFireworks: Use of fireworks by individuals is prohibited.
bulletEquipment Operations: Farmers are required to have fire extinguishers and fire tools and to frequently inspect farm equipment to reduce debris. They should stay on site one-half hour after operations are completed to ensure no fires develop. Petroleum workers must conduct proper inspection and maintenance of equipment and monitor burning of byproducts. Blasting for seismic exploration should be confined by 10 feet or more of soil. Petroleum workers should remain at the work site for one-half hour after operations are completed. Spark arresters and a 10-foot radius cleared of combustible materials are required for welding activities. Water tankers with 100 gallons and 100 feet of hose are also required. Railroads should conduct weekly inspections of exhaust arrester systems and breaks.

Information on current Fire Danger Indexes is available through the NWS internet site at www.crh.noaa.gov/bis, the game and fish web site at www.state.nd.us/gnf/, or your county sheriff's office.

 

 

 

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