BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Authorities warned of extreme wildfire danger in Montana and Wyoming Tuesday as a sweltering heat wave was forecast to intensify across large parts of the two states after already delivering record high temperatures.
National Weather Service forecasters said high temperatures could approach 110 degrees (43 degrees Celsius) in portions of eastern Montana, shattering decades-old records.
The heat wave settled into the region Monday, with a record high of 103 degrees (39 degrees Celsius) recorded in Billings. An excessive heat warning was in effect across much of central and eastern Montana and portions of northern Wyoming through 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Forecasters warned people to stay out of the sun and not to leave young children and pets in unattended vehicles.
A red flag warning for extreme fire danger was issued. Strong winds with gusts up to 35 miles per hour (56 kph) were expected. That could stir up wildfires already burning and make it hard to stamp out new blazes.
A wildfire that broke out Monday south of Red Lodge in Montana near Yellowstone National Park grew quickly overnight and had burned more than 3 square miles (8 square kilometers) by Tuesday morning, according to a statement from the Custer Gallatin National Forest.
About 80 firefighters were working on the scene Tuesday to suppress the fire, the statement said.
Residents of the Gold and Ruby Creek areas were evacuated Tuesday morning. Residents of other nearby areas were told they could be asked to evacuate if conditions worsened.