Montana to deploy more troops to fight fires - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Montana to deploy more troops to fight fires

Posted: Updated:

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The Latest on Montana's wildfires (all times local):
    
5:30 p.m.
    
Montana officials say they will nearly triple the number of National Guard troops responding to wildfires in the state by the end of the weekend.
    
Adjutant Gen. Matthew Quinn said Thursday that the number of troops deployed will rise from 123 to 350. Soldiers will work on line crews, on firefighting aircraft and provide security.
    
Firefighting personnel and resources across the U.S. are scarce with the National Fire Preparedness Level at its highest point for the first time since 2015.
    
Director of Natural Resources and Conservation Director John Tubbs says the additional troops could help re-direct hotshot teams now working on larger fires to attack new fires before they spread.
    
Gov. Steve Bullock says there are now more than 4,000 people assigned to 23 major fires burning in Montana.
    
___
    
3:25 p.m.
    
Officials say a wildfire burning south of Havre has destroyed five cabins, five other structures and is threatening another 130 buildings.
    
The 17-square-mile (44-square-kilometer) fire is burning in the Bears Paw Mountains between Havre and the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation. It was uncontained as of Thursday afternoon.
    
The fire was first reported on Sunday and it has jumped two fire lines.
    
Residents in the area have been put on notice that they may have to evacuate.
    
___
    
12:30 p.m.
    
A fire that burned at least 47 square miles (121 square kilometers) of extremely dry forest and grasslands in a day has forced the evacuation of an undetermined number of ranches and homes in southeastern Montana.
    
The fire burning 35 miles northwest of Broadus is one of 45 blazes that ignited Wednesday in Montana, where more than 90 percent of the land is in moderate to exceptional drought.
    
Many of the new ignitions were caused by lightning strikes from a passing thunderstorm that carried little rain.
    
Unrelenting wind gusts caused the fire in the Custer National Forest to spread too fast for crews to establish containment lines Wednesday.
    
There are ranches and houses spread out across the landscape in the direction the fire is heading. Fire officials say 35 total structures are threatened.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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