Fire Danger Climbs | VideoJoel Porter | 9/10/2012
Chuck Suchy spent a few hours cutting and raking hay along highway six south of Mandan.
"It`s dry. It`s dry, but it`s North Dakota. So we`re used to it. We`re glad we got the rain we got a few weeks ago," he said.
As dry as it`s been, Suchy says he won`t be baling just yet. He says it`s simply not worth the risk.
"Pastures are starting to show it a little bit now. Stress, that is."
Not far down the road, Mandan Rural Fire Chief Lynn Gustin is on his farm with his beeper close by.
"Just have to be ready and watchful, because it`s a powder keg out there as far as most of the vegetation in most places."
Gustin says in the past week, the area south of Mandan has received some early morning frost. While that`s good in that it`ll help dry down the corn and sunflowers, he says it`s not so good for everything else.
"All your spring vegetation this time of year has gone its life cycle and it`s dead and it`s dried out. So even if you get an inch or two of rain, that`s not going to come back."
Red Flag warnings are in effect and the fire danger index remains high, yet the North Dakota Forest Service says this has been a relatively normal summer.
"Really, if we look historically, a lot of our averages are pretty similar to what they should be. We just have seen so many wet years, that we haven`t seen a fire season in the fall for the last three or four years," said ND Forest Service Fire Manager Sarah Tunge.
Tunge says a Red Flag warning depends on two factors, the wind speed and humidity. A windy day that drops humidity into the teens creates a dangerous environment in fields across North Dakota. She says that`s why farmers should check the index before burning or heading out in the tractor.
Tunge says one of the non-scientific methods they employ in the field is to take a piece of grass and try to tie it into a knot. If it holds, it means there is moisture in the plant, a dry plant will simply break.