Montana wildfire grows, destroys 2 homes
LOLO, Mont. (AP) -- One of several wildfires burning in Montana destroyed two homes after jumping control lines as firefighters braved another day Friday of high temperatures, gusty winds and low humidity.
The homes, southwest of the town of Lolo, were among 750 residences evacuated after the fire, started by lightning in July, blew up late Wednesday. Several outbuildings were burned late Thursday.
"We've got a couple of very challenging days ahead of us," fire operations manager Mark Goeller said late Thursday. "You're going to see a lot of smoke in the air and a lot of ash fallout."
The blaze burned nearly 30 square miles (76 square kilometers) of forest land. Evacuations were in effect along the U.S. Highway 93 and U.S. Highway 12 corridors. The town of Florence was under an evacuation warning.
Fire commander Greg Poncin said the fire is going to burn for a long time, and he did not know how long people would be out of their homes.
"I wish at this point I could give you a definitive answer," Poncin said.
Heavy smoke from other wildfires made air quality hazardous in the town of Seeley Lake in northwestern Montana and unhealthy in Butte.
In Oregon, more than two dozen wildfires were burning around the state, including 10 fires in the so-called "zone of totality" for Monday's solar eclipse. Totality is when the moon appears to completely blot out the sun.
The blazes prompted authorities to close large portions of Mt. Jefferson Wilderness and Three Sisters Wilderness, both in central Oregon's Willamette National Forest and both considered top eclipse-viewing locations.
Residents about 6 miles (10 kilometers) west of the city of Sisters were told to prepare for evacuation after a wildfire there grew Thursday.
In California, crews fighting a fire in Yosemite National Park were trying to guide the flames away from the small town of Wawona and into wilderness. The fire has closed campgrounds and trails in the park but authorities have not ordered anyone to leave. No structures have been damaged.