Wildfires Cause State of Emergency in Montana

Montana was under a state of emergency Monday as firefighters battled several huge blazes, and residents near a state park on Michigan's Upper Peninsula were ordered to evacuate as another wildfire spread there.

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer declared the state of emergency Sunday as one of his state's major wildfires had forced some residents to evacuate.

The blaze less than 2 miles west of the town of Seeley Lake, northeast of Missoula, had blackened about 18,000 acres, or more than 28 square miles, as of Monday morning.

Fire information officer Pat Cross said he did not have an updated number of homes evacuated, but said some people would be allowed to visit property during the day.

"We had a relatively good day yesterday (Sunday), relatively little fire growth," Cross said.

Parts of Montana received rain but "we got sprinkles, not even enough to mess up the windshield," he said.

About 50 homes ahead of a fire in the Flathead National Forest in northwestern Montana remained evacuated, and crews had to move their fire camp because the flames had come within 2 miles. Residents of the Good Creek area to the north may also be evacuated if the fire continues to grow, officials said.

In northern Michigan, the wildfire was within about 10 miles of Tahquamenon Falls State Park and had spread across more than 12,000 acres, or nearly 19 square miles, the biggest in the area in nearly a decade, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said.

No injuries were reported and there were no reports of damage to buildings, but several structures in the Chesbrough Lake area were threatened and at least five families had left that area, the DNR said.

Precautionary evacuations were ordered for an area near the tiny community of Pine Stump Junction, the DNR said early Monday. There was no immediate word on how many people were affected.

California crews battling an 88-square-mile wildfire roughly 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles in Santa Barbara County got about 50 extra fire engines Sunday after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency. More than 2,300 people were fighting the blaze; the 50 engines added to about 100 already there.

The month-old wildfire was 70 percent contained Sunday but full containment isn't expected until Sept. 7, officials said. Evacuation orders remained in effect for about 650 people in the hamlet of Paradise and a camp for delinquent boys.

In the East, a fire was roughly 70 percent contained after spreading through about 4 square miles of pine forest in southern New Jersey's Wharton State Forest, about 25 miles southeast of Philadelphia.