Follow safety measures to enjoy outdoor recreational fires

Eloise Ogden/MDN Outdoor fire containers should be placed a safe distance from structures and combustible materials.

Outdoor fire containers are popular but safety measures must be taken when placing and using them.

Early Sunday morning, the Garrison Fire and Rescue Squad were called to a fire at a residence in the Garrison Creek Cabin Site, the McLean County Independent in Garrison reported this week. The homeowner said his firepit, which was built into the deck, was on fire and burning toward the house. By the time the department arrived the fire spread and the structure was destroyed. No one was injured in the blaze.

Minot’s regulations allow recreational fires but safety measures must be taken.

City Fire Marshal Brian Andersen, with the Minot Fire Department, said a good place for information about recreational fires and fire safety can be found at the minotnd.org website

Go to minotnd.org, then to “City Departments” and to the Fire Department tab. On the left side is a bullet for “Recreational Fire Guidelines.”

Eloise Ogden/MDN City Fire Marshal Brian Andersen, with the Minot Fire Department, is shown at Station 1. Andersen said the City of Minot website is a good tool for information on placement and other guidelines for recreational fires.

“When you click that, there’s a full explanation of all the rules about Minot,” said Andersen. “The first map you see is our Fire Danger map. This is updated every single morning at 6 a.m. so you know for that day if it’s illegal to burn or not legal to burn.”

“If we’re in the very high extreme category on this map or, of course, a red flag warning is issued by the state, you can’t have recreational fires. Whether it be in an approved container or a homemade container, you just can’t do it,” Andersen said.

He said the safety considerations are combustible materials that are around the outdoor firepit, fireplace or other containers whether it be the deck, vinyl siding, leaves piled up along the edge of the house or items under the deck that can catch on fire. “Those are some of the fuel sources we see,” he said, adding, “Vinyl siding is a large fuel source.”

On this particular day (Wednesday), he said the Fire Danger map showed Minot was in the low category because the humidity and temperature were low. Should a fire start that day, he said it would be easy to contain. He said the Fire Danger map takes in many factors including humidity, wind and fuel conditions.

“People have a misconception that if they live in the city they don’t have to worry about rangeland fires. There’s still a lot of combustibles in everyone’s yard and embers can travel. It’s still dangerous to have recreational fires outside the city and inside the city. How it’s dangerous is a little bit different as far as fuel loads but either way you can have the fire spread,” he said.

Scrolling down to the next section, he said it will tell what is allowed during that particular fire danger. “When there’s an extreme or red flag warning, that’s when you can’t do recreational fires,” he said.

He said the map also tells when fireworks are allowed. “But we want to be very clear you are never allowed to have them in the city of Minot,” he said.

He said the map and chart are a good guidance whether to have a recreational fire.

Information is also provided on how to have a safe recreational fire.

According to the guidelines, a recreational fire should not be located within 25 feet of structures or conditions such as dry grass, leaves or combustible materials that will cause a fire to spread within 25 feet of any structure.

“The only way to do less than 25 feet is if the manufacturer says it’s OK,” he said. “It’s always important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations as far as clearance to combustibles,” he said.

Fires in approved and UL listed containers equipped with screens and spark arrestors, must be located a minimum of 15 feet from structures and combustible materials with all other guidelines applying to these types of fires, the guidelines say.

“You want to make sure they’re not going to be able to tip over easy if kids run into them,” Andersen added.

Recreational fires are not allowed in winds in excess of 15 mph as determined by the Weather Channel cable access channel 15, the guidelines say.

Andersen said the website is the best tool to answer most questions. “Everything you need is right there,” he said.


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