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Montana declares state of emergency as U.S. Northwest battles blazes
Montana declared a state of emergency on Sunday to battle more than a dozen wildfires as blazes, fueled by drought and winds, also raged in Oregon, Idaho and the California wine region north of San Francisco.
Wildfires have destroyed 50 homes in north central Idaho while a fire in north-central Washington nearly doubled in size, almost encircling the town of Chelan and forcing the evacuation of some 1,500.
The Reach fire, sparked on Friday by lightning strikes and high winds, had doubled to 55,000 acres (22,250 hectares) by Sunday, fire incident spokesman Wayne Patterson said.
He said the fire also had started other smaller blazes further north.
Patterson said better weather was helping to fight the blaze - the temperature was down 10 degrees Fahrenheit from the upper 90s (mid 30s Celsius) on Friday and winds were low. Power in Chelan has been restored.
Patterson said there were about 727 firefighters tackling the blaze and the National Guard would be adding more troops on Sunday night or Monday. A Blackhawk helicopter was dropping water on the fire...
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