The Latest: Many evacuated Montana residents can return home

The Latest on wildfires burning in the West (all times local):


A mostly quiet day on a western Montana wildfire allowed firefighters to expand containment and make it safe for the residents of about 400 homes to return to the area.

The fire that started Sunday southwest of Hamilton has burned just over 12 square miles and 14 homes. It was 15 percent contained Friday morning.

Residents of more than 600 homes had been evacuated, but on Thursday residents of 400 of the homes were told they could return.

Fire crews planned Friday to mop up fire lines and conduct some burnouts to secure barriers to the fire's expansion. They also are working around homes to cool down any hot spots that could reignite.

Thunderstorms and wind are possible in the afternoon, which could increase fire behavior.


10:30 a.m.

Utah authorities say a rural wildfire near the Idaho border has torched about 30 square miles and destroyed three structures.

Box Elder County Fire Marshal Corey Barton said Friday the fire has burned a ranchers' cabin as well as a camp trailer and a mobile home.

All three were vacant, and no one has been hurt. A handful of isolated farmhouses and other structures in the mountainous area are threatened.

Barton says investigators believe someone accidentally started the blaze, but he couldn't immediately say exactly what sparked it.

Fire authorities say smoke has drifted into Pocatello Valley in Idaho and the Salt Lake City area, about 85 miles south of the fire.

Firefighters have contained approximately 30 percent of the fire west of Plymouth with the help of aircraft and bulldozers.