South Dakota City’s Firefighters Had Busy Year in 2012

February 6, 2013

The drought that plagued the Midwest last summer sparked enough grass fires in South Dakota to make 2012 the busiest year the Yankton Fire Department has seen in more than a decade.

The total number of calls for the year was 250, up from 231 the year before and the most since 2000. While that included structure fires, accidents and other miscellaneous calls, grass fires were a major factor for the surge, the Yankton Press & Dakotan reported.

“One of the biggest problems we had last year was discarded cigarettes” that sparked grass fires, Fire Chief Tom Kurtenbach said.

The city’s fire department is made up of volunteers, and Kurtenbach thanked their employers for being accommodating.

“We were never short of help because of lack of turnout,” he said. “If we needed to call in mutual aid, it was because of the size of the fire.”

Southeastern South Dakota was especially hit by a drought ranked “exceptional” – the worst drought category on the U.S. Drought Monitor map.

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