BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Wildfires in Montana have exploded in size, triggering evacuations and destroying an unknown number of homes.

Scorching heat and heavy winds stoked the blazes. In the Big Belt Mountains east of Townsend, firefighters pulled back from a fast-moving fire and into safety zones when it became unsafe to fight.

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A fire helicopter crash-landed in the heavy winds and caught fire, but only minor injuries were reported. South of the tourist town of Red Lodge near Yellowstone National Park, fire grew to more than 30 square miles by Wednesday and forced the evacuation of 450 houses.

Officials said the blaze was human-caused and under investigation by law enforcement.


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