Davison County resident facing charges after allegedly causing grass fire near Mitchell amid burn ban

Officials with the Mitchell Fire Division say the grass fire was caused by a leaf-burning attempt.

A field of burnt grass that a county resident allegedly caused amid a burn ban sits about 5 miles west of Mitchell.
Sam Fosness / Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL — A haze made its way through the northwest portion of Mitchell Sunday evening after a rural resident’s leaf-burning caused a grass fire.

Despite the burn ban that’s in effect for Davison County, the rural resident defied the order by burning leaves on their property that sits about 5 miles west of Mitchell, Mitchell Fire Marshall Shannon Sandoval said.

Charges are pending against the individual responsible for allegedly causing the grass fire due to defying the countywide burn ban. Authorities with the Davison County Sheriff's Office handled the enforcement of the burn ban violation.

The grass fire covered about 10 acres of land until firefighters knocked it down early Sunday evening. Sandoval said crews contained the grass fire within about two hours.

“A four-wheeler and hay bales were destroyed. That was the extent of the damage,” Sandoval said. “The haze you could see in Mitchell on Sunday was from that fire.”


According to Davison County Emergency Management Office, the burn ban prohibits “open burning,” which is defined as “any outdoor fire, including campfires, warning fires, charcoal grill fires, or the prescribed burning of fence rows, fields, wild lands, trash and debris.”

The burn ban went into effect on Oct. 25 after the Davison County Commission approved a resolution.

Any person in violation of the burn ban could face a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine, the resolution says.

With the ongoing drought in the surrounding Mitchell area, there’s been an influx of grass fires in rural parts of the area. The burn ban is one route county leaders are taking to curb future grass fires.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the west half of Davison County is under a severe drought, while the eastern half is in an extreme drought.

Sandoval pointed to the latest grass fire as a reminder to all Davison County residents that outdoor burning in any capacity can result in a “much larger disaster.”

“Attempts at any type of burn in these conditions are dangerous. The burn ban is in place for a reason,” Sandoval echoed.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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