BILLINGS (AP) – Nearly all of Montana is experiencing drought or trending toward drought, fueling wildfires and costing farmers millions of dollars.

The Billings Gazette reports drought conditions stretch 680 miles (1,094 kilometers) west to east from Noxon to Sidney. This is the first summer in 10 years that so much of the state was experiencing drought at the same time and the first year since 2004 that more than 10 percent of the state was in extreme drought, the worst category recognized.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, only 2.7 percent of the state is experiencing normal conditions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Montana is expecting crop losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and farmers are worried that fall rain won’t follow the dry summer, making it difficult for them to seed winter wheat in the months ahead.

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