TIOGA, N.D. - A fire in Williams County that burned more than 500 acres of land near Tioga could have ended in catastrophic loss of businesses and a home over the weekend, according to the area's emergency management.
Fifty firefighters from fire departments in Ray, Tioga, Wildrose and Epping responded, and Ray Fire Department Captain Kyle Weyrauch says they fought the fire for roughly five hours.
Braun Trucking, Nuverrra Power Fuels, and D and L Paraffin of Tioga hauled 200 barrels of water there, because it took more than 100,000 gallons of water to put the fire out.
Weyrach says the fire started after a controlled burn got out of hand due to 20 to 30 mile per hour winds and very dry vegetation. Today, there are some areas that are still smoldering near a farmer's house. Weyrauch says the aftermath of the blaze shows that the flames came inches from an oilfield company's propane tanks that could have exploded.
He says moments after arriving on the scene of the fire that started on farmland, it was obvious they would need a lot of help, adding " It really took off from there. I was on scene probably 8, 10 minutes after the first truck, and within a couple of minutes we called for mutual aid, because it was moving to the point that we couldn't knock it down with the trucks we had onsite."
Weyrauch says a fire of this size has not happened for several years, but it is common to see smaller fires of this type during the spring.
Because the conditions are perfect for fires like these to break out, Williams County Commissioners have declared a fire emergency, and put a burn ban in place for the county, according to Williams County Emergency Management Director, Mike Smith. Anyone who wilfully violates the ban by lighting campfires or fireworks, burning garbage or crop land and taking part in "unnecessary off-road motorized travel" is guilty of a Class B Misdemeanor.