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8/22/2007

Idaho governor declares emergency as wildfires rage on

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Boise, Idaho - The relentless spread of large wildfires has prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency and fire managers in three national forests to give up on trying to extinguish the blazes, focusing instead on protecting homes and other structures.

Fire managers on some large wildfire complexes said they would need to wait for a different kind of help to fight back the flames: snow. "With the resources we have and the conditions on the ground, we're not going to be able to go in there and put them all out. It's physically impossible to do so. Unless things really change weatherwise, we expect them to burn until the winter snow hits the mountains."

MONTANA, CALIFORNIA - More than 300 homes were evacuated as a wildfire destroyed two houses and cut off the main entrance to a Billings, Montana, subdivision. At some of the surviving homes, firefighters were battling flames "right up to the back door". Gusty winds and low humidity helped spread flames elsewhere in western Montana, prompting more evacuations near several blazes. Southeast of Missoula, Granite County authorities evacuated 213 cabins and homes in the path of a complex of fires that had charred at least 44,000 acres, or 69 square miles, in three national forests. Dozens of ranch properties in California were put on alert Monday as the third-largest wildfire in modern state history raged through Los Padres National Forest backcountry. The blaze had blackened 214,725 acres, or 336 square miles, since starting on July 4. It was 75 percent contained. The firefighters, more than 3,000 strong, faced rugged terrain, temperatures in the 90s and extremely low humidity in an area that hadn't burned in 75 to 100 years.


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