Big-Sky Country Ablaze

"Our state is literally on fire," said Montana's Governor Ted Schwinden, who had only to look out the window of his office in Helena to see thick gray smoke billowing skyward last week from the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness Area, 20 miles from the state capital. Touched off by lightning strikes and whipped by winds that at tunes exceeded 50 m.p.h., flames devoured more than 220,000 acres of unusually dry timber and range lands, creating what is considered the worst conflagration in Montana since 1967. Some 5,000 fire fighters, including many from neighboring states, battled throughout the week, at a...

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