North Dakota Forest Service


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Only YOU Can Prevent Wildfires

“North Dakotans are encouraged to be mindful with their outdoor activities, as fall wildfire season approaches.”

Fall is a time where cool temperatures set in, and North Dakotans enjoy the fall colors as they are in the thick of harvesting crops or gearing up for the various hunting seasons for which our state is so well known. North Dakota has a fall fire season, and the North Dakota Forest Service just finished up celebrating Fire Prevention Week with second grade classrooms across the state. While these young people are excited to learn about Smokey Bear and his rules for fire prevention, Smokey’s message reminds all of us of our own responsibility when it comes to preventing wildfires.

While we have received more late-season moisture than usual, the risk of wildfire remains high this fall in North Dakota, particularly in rural areas. For a fire to start, all that is needed is oxygen, fuel and a heat source. In the fall, drying grasses, vegetation, and even crop residue can often act as that fuel source, and oxygen is readily available in the air. All that is needed to start a fire is a heat source, which often is the result of human activity.

Farmers, hunters, and other recreation enthusiasts are encouraged to “know before you go”, by checking current conditions on the website. Here, they can see the daily fire danger, learn about burn restrictions in effect, monitor conditions for red flag warnings, and adjust or postpone their activities as needed.

Kindred Fire Department Combine Fire
Photo courtesy of Kindred Fire Department
As fall harvest of soybeans, field corn, and sunflowers are underway the next few weeks, proper maintenance and fire prevention measures will go a long way to keeping farmers safe. Warm, dry harvest conditions in combination with crop dust and chaff accumulating on hot surfaces can increase the risk of combine fires. NDSU Extension’s farm and ranch safety program has created a detailed checklist on reducing fire risk while harvesting; visit their website to learn more.

Exhaust systems on road vehicles and harvesting equipment can reach high temperatures. Because of this, North Dakotans should avoid driving over and parking on tall, dry grass. Be sure recreational vehicles are equipped with a spark arrestor. These devices work by trapping larger hot exhaust particles that have been expelled by internal combustion engines. Keep trailer chains from dragging, which can create sparks on road that could lead to a fire. Everyone is encouraged to pack a shovel, a 5-gallon can of water, and a fire extinguisher whenever exploring outside.

Just as Smokey reminds us, we are all asked to do our part in preventing wildfires. Remain watchful and report any wildfires to authorities. Taking personal fire prevention measures will help protect homes, lives, and the beautiful land that North Dakota has to offer. To learn more about how you can prevent unwanted, human caused wildfires, visit the Smokey Bear website at


By Beth Hill, Outreach and Education Manager

Beth Hill HeadshotFor the Trees

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