- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

KEENE, N.D. (AP) - An energy company operating in the western North Dakota oil patch is offering help to ranchers affected by a grass fire started by gas flares at an oil well.

The blaze earlier this month burned more than 4 ½ square miles in McKenzie County, damaging grazing land and destroying miles of fence line.

Whiting Petroleum has met with the U.S. Forest Service and with ranchers to offer help, and is supplying a crew to repair fences, Acting District Ranger Scot Shuler told The Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/1HQ8HTW ).

“Whiting’s been outstanding, working with ranchers and finding out their priorities,” he said.

The fire primarily burned pasture land permitted through the McKenzie County Grazing Association, and a much smaller amount of private land. Whiting has offered to look for alternative grazing grass if the three affected ranches run short, pasture director Wade Wold said.

“Whiting has been upfront with us. They’re doing what they can,” he said.

Whiting also has agreed to reimburse local fire departments for their costs in fighting the fire, Schuler said.

Whiting officials did not immediately respond to inquiries by the Tribune and The Associated Press.

The fire did not burn any structures or harm any people.

___

Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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