RAPID CITY, SD -
Record heat and extended drought sparked a huge increase in the number and severity of wildfires in South Dakota this year.
The number of fires nearly doubled this year compared with last year. That put a strain on the budgets of small fire departments, caused the cancellations of July 4 fireworks displays, led to bans on open campfires and stressed firefighters.
The state has spent about $4.5 million fighting wildfires so far this year, up from $970,000 a year ago.
Firefighters in South Dakota this year fought 1,113 fires that burned more than 103,000 acres. According to the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, South Dakota last year had only 631 fires that burned 65,000 acres.
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