State leaders urge farmers to be cautious while working on CRP lands to prevent fires

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BISMARCK, N.D. - CRP land will be open for haying beginning this Sunday to help the state's ranchers during the drought, but officials are pleading with farmers to be overcautious when working in the fields to help prevent any fires from breaking out.

CRP land is open for haying Sunday, but farmers and ranchers will need to be careful as conditions will be hot and dry and fires could start if they don't take every precaution.

Friday afternoon Jerry Miller and his grandson Chance are haying their alfalfa fields. But they don't expect more than 30 bales from it.

"Hay is really short this year so, every bit we can get is going to help," Jerry Miller, Rancher.

The opening of CRP land this Sunday is a blessing to some, but a worry for others.

"It's a huge concern because we've got a warm weekend coming up, going to be probably in the hundreds and it's going to dry things out even more and the relative humidity will be extremely low and it doesn't take much for a fire to spark off and we've got real problems," Greg Wilz, Department of Emergency Services.

Miller says he does take precautions when haying land.

"I just have a hand pump with water in it and go out and spray it, that's all I got and we do have fire extinguishers too," said Miller.

Officials say ranchers can't have enough tools at their disposal.

"Have some water with them, have the firefighting equipment, have a cell phone with them. If they spark off a fire don't get out and try and put it out, call 911," said Wilz.

Chance Miller says he knows what affects fires can have on his community.

"Some neighbors around here had fires burn up your tractors and baylors. It happens," said Chance Miller.

This weekend they hope to avoid all of that.

The Miller family thinks it will take them about a day and a half to hay this land and hopes to get 150 bales out of it. Enough to get them through the winter.