Fire danger increases weekly

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By Katie Zerr–

The grip of the drought of 2012 has taken a toll on South Dakota crops and pasture land and the continued hot temperatures have caused the perfect storm for wildfires.

Across the state topsoil moisture are nearly 100 percent below normal and subsoil moisture are about 90 percent below normal. The combination of heat, wind and tinder dry cover in our area is the recipe for a fire storm, much like those that have been burning in the southwestern part of the state.

“Most people are aware of how dry it is,” said Mobridge Fire Chief Brad Milliken. “Everyone is so scared about starting something that they are taking necessary precautions when working outside.”

He said producers seem to be taking the conditions seriously and taking a water source into the field with them. Milliken said firefighters in the area have been pretty lucky so far considering the conditions, but as the dry conditions linger into the fall season, there could be more problems on the horizon.

“We worry about the hunters coming here,” he said. “They will have to leave their pickups on the roads and walk the fields, other wise there are going to be more fires.”

He said another major concern is the harvesting of sunflowers.

“They are so dry when they are harvested, it could be a really busy time for us,” he said.

There has also been a number of residents who are unaware of the countywide burn ban and Milliken said there have been incidents where people in town have been burning yard refuse.

“We have talked to a few people who have burning in town and that is not allowed,” he said. “As dry as it is, we could have a fire take off in town pretty easily.”

He said for the most part people in the area have been very cautious in the dry conditions and urges them to continue to be aware of the conditions.

He said when it is this dry any little spark, like that of a discarded cigarette, could start a fire that would quickly spread.

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