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Linda Evridge, left, whose family ranch near Lemmon, S.D., was devastated by a U.S. Forest Service prescribed burn, expresses disbelief during Saturday's public meeting at the Hettinger Research Extension Center with the decision by Grassland River District Ranger Paul Hancock, standing right, to go-ahead with a 130-acre controlled burn that turned into a 10,800-acre wildfire over federal and private lands.

Forest Service at fault for Pautre Fire: Ranger apologizes

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HETTINGER -- In a meeting with nearly 100 farmers and ranchers from here to Lemmon, S.D., the U.S. Forest Service on Saturday claimed responsibility for the Pautre Fire that scorched thousands of acres of grassland between Wednesday and Friday.

"The Forest Service is extremely regretful that the fire escaped the containment lines," Grand River District Ranger Paul Hancock said during the public meeting at the North Dakota State University Research Center in Hettinger.

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