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September 11, 2012 10:00 PM

Fire Danger High During Harvest

Redfield, SD

The weather has been a perfect mix for a very high fire danger throughout KELOLAND just in time for harvest.

Humidity has been low while the wind gusts and combines begin to make their way through fields. Rural firefighters expect to get calls.

"Last year was a bad year for fires too. And this year is going to be the same. Conditions are really dry," Tulare Fire Chief Gene Stellmacher said.

Stellmacher says his volunteer squad responded to five or six fires during last year’s harvest and he fears there will be more this year.

Even though current weather conditions have increased the fire danger, Meteorologist Travis Tarver with the National Weather Service in Aberdeen urges caution even if those factors improve.

"Given the fact that we've been very dry across the northern plains since late last summer, even if the humidity comes up a little bit the fire danger is still high to very high across most of the region just given the high fuels alone," Tarver said.

If you're driving around during harvest you'll probably see farmers taking certain precautions. Several have discs sitting in fields so if a fire starts, they can work up the ground downwind and slow its spread. Some are even taking tanks of water to the fields.

"I just say everybody be cautious," Stellmacher said. "Any spark is going to start a fire."

And there's still a lot of harvesting to finish where several fires can be ignited.
 

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