Burn Ban & Red Flag Warnings

 Fire Danger Rating System

Fire Danger Rating Definition

North Dakota records approximately 1,800 fire incidents each year and classifies fire as urban fires or wildland fires. Major causes of urban fires include electrically related structural and vehicle fires, incendiary-arson, unattended cooking fires, smoking materials, heating devices, fuel systems, sparks, hazardous material spills, and spontaneous combustion.Sources of wildland fires include lightning, uncontrolled   "controlled" burns, smoking, and sparks from farm machinery, industrial equipment and trains. Fires in areas of high fuel content can rapidly flare out of control, threaten lives and cause major damage to habitat, crops, livestock, wildlife, and structural property.

The North Dakota Fire Danger Index provides an indication of rural fire potential for grasslands, including its ability to spread. The index contains five ratings: Low, Medium, High, Very High, and Extreme. Should a fire ignite, it is more likely that it would grow or spread during higher index days. The attached Rural Fire Danger Guide provides detail descriptions of the five ratings.

A Red Flag Warning also known as a Fire Weather Warning is a forecast warning issued by the United States National Weather Service to inform area firefighting and land management agencies that conditions are ideal for wildland fire ignition, and rapid propagation. By proclamation of the Divide County Board of Commissioners, Divide County's Burn Ban will go into effect anytime that a Red Flag Warning is issued for Divide County.

A separate but less imminent forecast may include a Fire Weather Watch, which is issued to alert fire and land management agencies to the possibility that Red Flag conditions may exist beyond the first forecast period (12 hours). The watch is issued generally 12 to 48 hours in advance of the expected conditions, but can be issued up to 72 hours in advance if the NWS agency is reasonably confident. The term "Fire Weather Watch" is headlined in the routine forecast and issued as a product. That watch then remains in effect until it expires, is canceled, or upgraded to a Red Flag Warning.
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Fire Weather Warning

NWS Fire Weather Warning

Divide County Burn Ban restrictions include: 

  •  No open burning.
  •  Off road motorized travel is prohibited except for individuals actively engaged in occupationally required operations.
  • Smoking is restricted to the interior of vehicles, buildings, or in areas clear of all vegetation. Proper disposal receptacles are required.
  • Use of any fireworks are prohibited.

All equipment operations must be closely monitored and inspected to prevent any sparks or heat sources from igniting combustible materials. This includes agricultural, petroleum, construction, and railroad operations. Welding must be confined to a fixed facility or conducted in an area cleared of all combustible material and a minimum of 100 gallons of water and 100 feet of hose is required to extinguish any sparks.


The first offense violation of a burn ban is a Class B misdemeanor and punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1000 fine.


USFS Wildland Fire Assessment System

North Dakota Fire Danger Guide

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