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Burning in Williams County

North Dakota Fire Danger Rating

It is critical that you verify the current Fire Danger Rating and local burn ban restrictions BEFORE burning and participating in outdoor activities.
The ND Fire Danger Rating is issued each morning during fire season, typically April 1 to October 31. Although not very often, there are times when weather conditions that develop during the day result in a change to fire conditions.

Williams County Burn Ban

Effective March 2, 2021, a Fire Emergency and Automatic Burn Ban is in place whenever the Fire Danger Index is in the High, Very High, or Extreme Status and/or a Red Flag Warning has been issued for Williams County. The ban is in effect until December 31, 2021.

The ban includes the the ignition of fireworks, garbage burning, campfires, burning of farm or crop land, and unnecessary off-road motorized travel.

Burning will be allowed with a Low or Moderate Fire Danger Rating or upon approval of the local fire response authority having jurisdiction over the designated area.



This exemption has been created for removing leftover standing crops.

Burning will be allowed, despite the Forest Service's rating, only under the following a set of conditions. You must also complete the form below with the Fire Chief for the Fire District in which the burning will take place.

  • Immediate agricultural necessity - Required to prep cropland for planting.
  • Must create a fire break prior to starting.
  • Must have tractor and tillage implement on site.
  • Must coordinate to have fire suppression readily available.
  • Winds must be below 15 mph.
  • Temperature and humidity restrictions.
  • Hours of burning restrictions set by the fire department.
  • Trash pits, brush piles, hay bales, pastures would not qualify as they can wait for lower fire danger ratings.
  • The responding fire department chief or his designated representative is the approving authority.
  • The requirement remains to notify the local fire department or emergency manager so they can inform 911 dispatch.

Open Burning

No person may conduct, cause or permit the conduct of a salvage operation by open burning, and the burning of refuse and other combustible material by open burning is generally restricted. However, there are some categories of permissible open burning; some of these are as follows:

  • Fires for the instruction and training of firefighting personnel
  • Campfires and other fires for the outdoor preparation of food
  • Agricultural crop burning

Some of these categories require prior Department approval or notification. Please refer to ND Century Code Section 33.1-15-04-02 for clarification and additional categories.

In order to legally burn any material that is not specifically listed as permissible, an application for an open burning variance must be completed. The application must be signed by the city or rural fire department prior to submittal to the Upper Missouri District Health Unit. Once completed, please return the application to:

Upper Missouri District Health Unit
110 W. Broadway – Suite 101
Williston, ND 58801-6032

No burning of trade waste or materials that generate hazardous air pollutants such as rubber products (tires), tar paper, asphalt shingles, plastics or treated wood products will be approved. Alternatives to burning must be investigated and the request to burn must be fully justified. Cost of alternative disposal is not sufficient justification by itself. Not all variance applications will be approved.

Regardless of whether or not the burning is permissible under the rules or whether a variance to open burn has been issued, all open burning must comply with all of the conditions contained in Subsection 33.1-15-04.2. Some of these conditions are as follows:

  • No public nuisance is or will be created
  • No occupied building may be impacted by air contaminants from the burning
  • No traffic hazards can be created
  • The burning must be attended and supervised at all times

Visit the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality's website for more information about open burning.

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