Northeastern South Dakota officials warn of increasing fire danger

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 6:54 PM CDT
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The risk of fire has been increasing across South Dakota as the dry conditions persist. And now officials in the northeastern corner of the state are warning that the risk will continue to increase without any relief.

Both McPherson and Brown counties are continuing their burn bans as the dry weather continues. And McPherson County Sheriff and Emergency Management Director Dave Ackerman said the ban is inconvenient for some, especially producers, but necessary.

“It’s unfortunate that we do need to have some sort of burn ban ordinance. Common sense really should prevail. But sometimes we just need a little extra reminder that we need to be careful.” said Ackerman.

Although many items including fireworks are not prohibited on either ban, they still pose a serious risk. In Brown County, Emergency Management Director Scott Meints said the 4th of July was an especially busy day for their first responders.

“Since June 15th, we’ve responded to over 50 fires in Brown County have been accidental or fireworks. That was I think the 4th of July, we responded to nine fireworks related fires just on the 4th.” said Meints.

Ackerman said the last time it was this dry, he remembers having to deal with fires caused by lightning, or having small sparks turn into large fires. While that was in the mid-1990′s, he said the time to worry about that is back. And he’s reminding everyone to me careful with anything that could cause a spark.

“We’ve seen a period where we didn’t have to do that anymore. Well, I’m afraid that time has come back.” said Ackerman.

Ackerman said even though they’re not included in McPherson County’s burn ban, small fires such as charcoal grills, fire pits and burn barrels need to be watched with a close eye. Burn barrels must also be 55 gallons or less in size with adequate covers.

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