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Published May 13, 2013, 04:37 PM

Conditions are ripe for fires up and down the Valley

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- Counties up and down the Valley are in a Red flag warning, meaning conditions are ripe for fires. Most of North Dakota is rated either extreme or very high, on the fire danger index. Most of the Southeastern part of the state is in the "Exteme" category.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- Counties up and down the Valley are in a Red flag warning, meaning conditions are ripe for fires. Most of North Dakota is rated either extreme or very high, on the fire danger index. Most of the Southeastern part of the state is in the "Exteme" category.

In Minnesota, only the Northeast and Southern parts of the state are "not" in the "very high" fire danger rating. In fact, a grass fire broke out just after 9 this morning near Sabin.

It might sound repetitive, but a rural firefighter chief says he can't stress how important it is that people make sure their fires are put out. If you think you have to burn in this wind - and aren't sure the fire is out - douse it with the garden hose to be sure.

Randy Schmidt/Sabin-Elmwood Fire Chief: "The call came in this morning as a grass fire approaching a house and a garage."

Sabin-Elmwood Fire Chief, Randy Schmidt says with gusting winds, it didn't take long for the flames to spread.

Schmidt: "When we first got here it was just burning in the small area, just around the outside edge and at this time it burned itself up to the road, had we had more vegetation it probably would have approached the house rather quickly."

The fire chief says the green grass is deceiving while it's lush on top, but you go down a little ways and it's brown and it's dry, just one ember could spark a grass fire.

That was the case at least 4 times in the past week. Fires in the Ransom area burned 500 acres of the Sheyenne National Grassland and two controlled burns over the weekend quickly got out of hand near Barnesville.

Schmidt: "There isn't a whole lot of rain this spring to dampen anything down."

If they're lucky, most rural communities have a volunteer fire department, like Sabin Elmwood.

Schmidt: "We've got quite a few good members that are relatively close to our department a lot of them are working within a mile or two of our station."

But, being a volunteer can come with big responsibility.

Schmidt: "The training that we go through in a year is really going to get to be a lot to put on some of these volunteers."

It's extra hours that many people are appreciative off though, especially when if it weren't for volunteers like today, a residents home could have gone up in flames.

And another quick note, even if you have a permit to burn, Clay County Sheriff's Office says those permits are NOT valid today because of the weather conditions.

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