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Montana towns are ravaged by wildfire as West burns

As hot and dry West weather drove fires through more than a dozen other states, a wildfire erupted in rural Montana on Thursday.

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Montana towns are ravaged by wildfire as West burns

As the Richard Spring Fire advanced through the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reserve, several thousand Montanans were still under evacuation orders.

California's Dixie Fire, which began July 13, threatened several small communities in northern Sierra Nevada. It was fueled by fire lines at its southern end.

The fire destroyed 790 square miles (2,200 kilometers) of land and destroyed 550 homes. It almost decimated Greenville last week. It was contained to 30%.

The Montana fire was fueled by hot temperatures and heavy winds. It spread quickly, torching trees and sending out embers that propelled flames across the landscape.

The fire started Sunday, and wind gusts of up to 56 mph (90 km/h) caused it explode over more than 260 miles (670 kilometers) by Thursday.

Angel Becker, spokesperson for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, said that the fire is now within a mile (3.2 km) of Lame Deer's eastern edge. Officials said that the fire crossed a highway where officials had hoped it would be stopped late Wednesday. This put the southern part of the reservation at greater risk.

It closed in on the east end of the town, and a second fire was lit to the west. Tribal officials called for residents to leave the area late Wednesday night. Buses were brought in by tribal officials to transport people to Busby's school, which is approximately 15 miles (24 km) away, as well to the Crow Indian Reservation shelter.

Becker stated that while there were some who refused to leave, the majority of elders, women, and children left with that final push.

To keep the fire from destroying homes, firefighters worked on Thursday morning in the hills surrounding Lame Deer. Although no houses were destroyed, fire officials assessed the damage and found that more than a dozen sheds and other outbuildings were damaged.

Jimmy Peppers, Rancher, sat east of town on his horse and watched the orange glow grow close to his house.

Peppers said that he didn't believe the cattle would cross the highway, so he didn't move any of his farm equipment. He spent the afternoon moving his cattle to a pasture near town. "I don’t know if it will have a home in the morning."

This town, which is home to approximately 2,000 people, is surrounded by rugged, steep-leaf forest.

Krystal Two Bulls, along with some friends, stayed a few miles away from the town to clear brush from her backyard in an effort to protect it from the flames. From the ridgeline, which was tree-covered, thick plumes of smoke rose just above the house.

Two Bull stated, "We have everything we need so that if we have the need to travel, we will." "I don't fear; I'm prepared. You don't have to run away from fire or abandon your home.

About 600 people living in Ashland (a small town located just outside of the reservation) were also ordered to leave. Ranchers used their heavy equipment to create fire lines around homes with the help of local, state and federal firefighters.

Although Ashland was still under evacuation orders, officials stated that the danger seemed to have subsided for now.

Jenny Garcin, fire spokesperson, stated that crews were creating a firebreak around Lame Deer. They also used heavy equipment to make strategic, intentional burns in an effort to reduce the fuel on the ground.

According to the National Weather Service, Thursday's weather forecast in southeastern Montana was for cooler weather and less wind. This could provide temporary relief for firefighters before a ridge containing high pressure moves through the region and raises temperatures to the 90s over weekend.

Many Western states have been left with extreme drought conditions that have rendered trees, grass, and brush dry, making them ready for ignition. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, Montana had 25 wildfires.

California and other states were also facing monsoonal moisture flows that were too high for real rain, but could cause thunderstorms that can bring lightning strikes and erratic winds.

Three national forests in Northern California closed the Trinity Alps wilderness area, a 780-square-mile (2,000-kilometer) area of granite peaks and lakes, due to wildfires.

Tracking hikers in dangerous areas takes much-needed aircraft from firefighting efforts and increases risk for first responders. Forest managers also hope to reduce the risk of human-caused fires by this temporary complete closure," Shasta Trinity National Forest officials stated in a statement.

Scientists believe climate change has made the region warmer and drier over the past 30 years. This will continue to increase extreme weather and make wildfires more destructive and frequent. As Europe is also experiencing large wildfires, the more than 100 wildfires that have erupted in the American West are a sign of this.

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