Federal Settlements in South Dakota Wildfire Exceed $700K

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) – South Dakota landowners have been awarded more than $700,000 in a lawsuit accusing a federal agency of burning their properties in April 2013, when a prescribed fire blazed out of control.

The U.S. Forest Service had aimed to eliminate grass, weeds and dead vegetation from about 200 acres (80 hectares) of federally owned land on the Dakota Prairie Grasslands in the state’s northwest.

The Rapid City Journal reports that the prescribed burn blew beyond the intended area and destroyed more than 7,000 acres (2,800 hectares) of private land.

Affected landowners filed lawsuits in 2015, alleging the government failed to execute the fire properly.

The latest settlement, approved in August, awards $45,000 to Duane and Dawn Harris and Albert Keller.

A conference to decide remaining cases is scheduled for Nov. 15

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