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CNN Today

Wildfires, Smoke Chase Hundreds From Homes in Montana

Aired August 9, 2000 - 2:09 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: The western fire situation is dicier today. A weather system is expected to kick up more lightning storms, but little in the way of moisture within those storms. Seventy fires currently are burning in 12 western states, covering close to a million acres in all. Montana Governor Marc Racicot is expected to announce restrictions today on the use of state and private land to lessen the danger of new fires, the largest of which has blackened 200,000 acres in Montana's usually scenic Bitterroot Valley. Flames and choking smoke have chased several hundred folks from their homes. Others are ready to go if the winds shift.

Virginia Kerr (ph) from CNN affiliate KECI has a report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VIRGINIA KERR, KECI REPORTER (voice-over): Flames dance along the treetops while an audience of tourists watch along Interstate 90.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole state, from where we were coming, is just one big cloud.

KERR: A cloud that's getting closer to Missoula. The Ryan Gulch (ph) fire is only 30 miles from the Garden City. And with the unpredictable weather, it could spread west.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's always potential for it to move in any direction in these kind of conditions, just depending on weather events.

KERR: For now, the main concern is residents like Michelle Aravello (ph) who lives only a mile and a half from the fire.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can tell sitting here it's fickle. It's coming from all sorts of directions and they don't really know whether to warn us.

KERR: Her house is one of two dozen in the Cramer dry (ph) and Bear Gulch authorities visited...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we're asking for is voluntary evacuation.

KERR: ... telling people to get ready in case they have to leave. The fire has spread to 2,500 acres, and one of the few resources fighting it left for another fire. Now residents wait for 400 firefighters, and pray the wind doesn't blow this fiery show in their direction.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATERS: KECI reporter Virginia Kerr from Montana's Beavertail Hill. The Bitterroot fires have burned around 50 homes across western Montana.

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