Officials track air quality in Wahpeton as Masonite fire continues smoldering

Crews have contained the fire that erupted Friday evening, but say the smoke won't be gone for a while

WAHPETON, N.D. — It’s been a busy couple of days for the crews working to contain a straw bale fire that broke out Friday at Masonite Primeboard.

The focus is now on the quality of air for people living nearby, as the smoke continues to blow through.

“This is going to last quite a few days when we’re looking at this controlled burn,” said Richland County Emergency Management Director Brett Lambrecht. “It’s very similar to, they said, a natural forest fire. Any smoke, if it bothers you, taking in lots of it isn’t good.”

Lambrecht says as of now, the smoke isn’t a cause for concern. That could change if wind pick up.

Crews have been working with the North Dakota Department of Health Air Quality Division and North Dakota Emergency Services.

Keeping your windows and doors closed, they say, is the best way to keep that smoke out of your home.

A Dairy Queen employee, who works and lives near the plant, says it hasn’t bothered him.

“I don’t know, maybe in the weeks to come, we might notice it,” said Issac Jaso. “If it starts affecting us, then it might be a problem.”

Although not yet confirmed, authorities suspect a machine may have led the hay bales to catch on fire.

“One of the workers was using a telehandler, like a forklift, to move bales, and all of a sudden he saw a flash, so we haven’t determined how it started yet,” explained Lambrecht.

The North Dakota Fire Marshal will be there Monday to investigate.

Nobody was injured in the fire.

The Wahpeton Fire Department received assistance from Dwight, Breckendridge and Morton crews to contain it.

Find full coverage and other details of this fire on

Categories: Local News, North Dakota News