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Published March 19, 2012, 06:25 PM

High Winds, Dry Grasses Add to Dangerous Fire Conditions Statewide

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Authorities across North Dakota are warning people to take extra caution when burning outdoors. Firefighters have already had their hands full putting out small grass fires popping up around the state.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Authorities across North Dakota are warning people to take extra caution when burning outdoors. Firefighters have already had their hands full putting out small grass fires popping up around the state.

Three volunteer fire departments spent several hours Sunday night putting out a fire near Manvel where about 200 acres burned.

A fire near Bismarck spread flames across three miles of ranch land. Another separate small grass fire temporarily closed down the westbound lanes of I-94 to traffic Sunday night because there was so much smoke, it was hard for drivers to see.

The fire near Manvel was put out right away before it could spread any further.

Manvel Fire Chief Steve Schumer says it's tough to fight a fire this time of the year because of the soft soils.

"You get out in CRP especially it gets mushy, our fire trucks can't get out to it so some of our departments have six wheelers. They have water tanks on them and we go out there with them," Schumer said.

Schumer says anyone doing any large burning outside should contact their local fire department to get the OK.

Grand Forks County Sheriff Bob Rost says it's been long time since he can recall a March like this year.

"Because there is no snow on the ground now, it is adding fuel to the fire. The wind is really drying the grasses out," Rost said.

Rost says people need to remember it takes very little to start a fire that consumes a lot of land in a small amount of time.

"Any kind of burning that they do outside, anything that goes through the wind can start grass fires in other places," Rost said.

Even with dry conditions, officials have not yet put out any burning restrictions at this time.

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