Two fires consume 2,400 acres of prairie
By Annette Tait
An estimated 2,400 acres of Oliver County prairie were consumed by fires this past week, with flames traveling through the dry grass pushed by brisk winds.
The first fire, reported around 2:30 p.m. March 31, was west of ND 1806 and south of the Price road. Firefighters from the Oliver, Mandan Rural, and Washburn fire departments responded, along with three trucks from the State Forest Service.
Sletten Excavation brought in a grader and a backhoe, which were joined by a grader from the Oliver County Highway Department. The earth moving equipment was used to build berms and firebreaks to contain the blaze.
Enerbase, out of Washburn, sent a water truck to refill fire department tankers.
“Duane Price brought a tractor and was pulling out fire units when they got stuck, Oliver County Ambulance was on standby, and all the local farmers and residents were helping any way they could,” said Oliver-Mercer Emergency Manager Carmen Reed.
Fire crews were on scene until the early morning hours, keeping an eye out for hot spots and preventing flare-ups. According to a North Dakota Forest service estimate, around 2,200 acres were consumed, along with two abandoned buildings and an unknown amount of fence.
The second fire was reported just before 2:30 a.m. April 5, and burned an estimated 200 acres on the Wilbur J. Bold Wildlife Management Area south of Highway 25 and east of Minnkota Power, and around 37 hay bales owned by Dale Barth.