Wind-stoked Montana fires burn structures, spur evacuations

National News

Residents watch as flames from the Robertson Draw fire burn above Red Lodge, Mont., Tuesday evening, June 15, 2021. Wildfires burning in Montana exploded in size over the past 24 hours and triggered evacuations of people from rural areas as scorching heat and heavy winds stoked the blazes. (Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Wildfires burning in Montana exploded in size over a 24-hour period and triggered evacuations of people from rural areas. Scorching heat and heavy winds stoked the blazes. In the Big Belt Mountains east of Townsend, firefighters pulled back from a fast-moving fire and into safety zones when it became unsafe to fight. A fire helicopter later crash landed in the heavy winds and caught fire, but only minor injuries were reported for one of the crew. A fire burning south of Red Lodge grew from about 3 square miles to more than 30 square miles by Wednesday morning, prompting a rapid evacuation of rural residences in the path of the blaze.

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