MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) — Fire calls are on the rise in Mitchell, and the city's Fire Division is hoping to add more firefighters to its staff for the first time in a decade.

The Daily Republic reports that the division responded to 600 calls for service last year, up 21 percent from the previous year. Fires included an August blaze that destroyed the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. plant.

Assistant Fire Chief Paul Morris says one reason for the increase in calls is that firefighters now assist Northwestern Energy with all natural-gas related calls.

The Fire Division has 24 people on its firefighting and ambulance staff. That hasn't changed since 2006. The agency in March applied for a $275,000 federal grant to fund two more firefighters for two years. A decision is pending.

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