Investigators Probe Cause Of Montana Fires

Published January 6, 2012 10:18PM (EST)

BROWNING, Mont. (AP) — A Blackfeet tribal spokesman says investigators believe a downed power line and a spark from a chimney caused the two wildfires that scorched 16,000 acres on the northwestern Montana reservation.

The fires sprung up at about the same time Wednesday evening outside Browning. High wind gusts spread the flames, burning at least two homes and causing hundreds to evacuate.

Spokesman Wayne Smith says the fires were 95 percent contained Friday afternoon.

Officials have not yet finished their investigation, but Smith says they have ruled out arson. He says investigators believe a power line downed by wind caused one of the fires.

One investigator concluded the other fire was caused by a spark from a chimney. Smith says two others went to the site to confirm those findings.

By Salon Staff

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