Southeast MT Town Evacuated As Wildfire Closes In

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A small town in southeastern Montana was ordered evacuated Tuesday as strong winds drove a wildfire dangerously close to the community just outside the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, officials said.

Roughly 500 to 600 people living in Ashland and the surrounding area were ordered to leave, Rosebud County Sheriff Allen Fulton said.

By early afternoon, flames were within about a quarter mile of a subdivision along the Tongue River after strong winds pushed the fire several miles, Fulton said. Some people in the evacuation zone left but others were staying in place.

“We’re actually pretty worried about it,” Fulton said. “It’s jumping highways, it’s jumping streams. A paved road is about a good a fire line as we could ask for and it’s going over that in spots.”

The fire began on private land in the Richard Springs area about 10 miles (16 kilometers) southwest of Colstrip and had grown to almost 100 square miles (260 square kilometers) by Tuesday morning. Three outbuildings were destroyed during the initial efforts to fight it.

Shelters for evacuees were being set up in the nearby towns of Lame Deer and Broadus.

Ashland is located about 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of the Montana-Wyoming border.

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