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Yellowstone wildfire season called one of worst in decades

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JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) – Wildfire season this summer in Yellowstone is being called the worst in decades.

A larger percentage of Yellowstone National Park burned this summer than in any year since 1988. The wildfire season of 2003 was also one of the worst in terms of drought and acreage burned.

The Cliff Creek, Lava Mountain and Berry fires and another handful of wildfires in Yellowstone altogether charred more than 200 square miles this year. The cost of fighting the wildfires in the region will reach tens of millions of dollars.

“The driver here was how dry it was, though we weren’t quite as dry as in 1988,” Yellowstone staff fire ecologist Roy Rankin said.

The Cliff Creek Fire area closure was lifted over the past week. The cost of fighting that fire is about $17 million.

The Lava Mountain Fire flared up in July and consumed about 23 square miles.

No structures were lost, but more than 900 residents were asked to evacuate. It took about 750 firefighters, a half a dozen helicopters and 55 engines to keep the fire away from buildings.

Near Jackson Hole, the Berry Fire was one of the last big blazes that fire managers had to deal with, the Jackson Hole News and Guide reported.

That fire required authorities to block Jackson Hole’s direct route to Yellowstone.

Copyright 2016 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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