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Eastern Montana Fires Spread, Prompt New Evacuations

Extreme fire danger
Photo by Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Fast-moving wildfires triggered new evacuations in southeast Montana Monday, as firefighters battled a potent combination of lightning strikes, dry weather and flame-whipping winds.

The number of fires continues to climb: A dozen major blazes are now active and have burned roughly 360 square miles of forest and prairie.

Officials warn that heavy winds forecast for Tuesday could push the blazes more quickly than firefighters can contain them.

As the 2012 fire season shapes up to be one of the worst in years, a special federal fire prevention team arrived in Montana ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

It’s part of a stepped-up effort to keep man-made fires from adding to the danger.

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