HELENA, Mont. — Fire crews called in more reinforcements Monday as they tried to overcome a chronic shortage of help in battling fires that continue to run rampant in the West.
Thousands of firefighters are already working to slow down blazes that have scorched more than 5 million acres this year.
But the help hasn't been enough in some areas.
"There are fires we only monitor because we don't have people" to fight them, said J.D. Coleman, fire information officer at the Northern Rockies Coordination Center in Missoula, Mont.
The National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho said an Army battalion from Kentucky would be sent to Montana late this week, and Marines from North Carolina would follow in a few days.
"It's a way to provide some manpower when it's badly needed," Coleman said.
More than 700 firefighters are toiling between Helena and Bozeman on a fire that has wiped out 75,000 acres, destroyed buildings and left ranchers wondering whether their cattle survived.
"We do have livestock wandering throughout the fire," said Graver Johnson, fire information officer at the Gallatin County emergency operations center. "We're trying to help the ranchers find and relocate them."
In California, a major wildfire and a smaller blaze sparked by flying embers continued burning out of control in the Plumas National Forest, devouring more than 17,000 acres.
About 700 of those acres were in the nearby Bucks Lake Wilderness, more than a mile ahead of the main fire. The fires are burning about 35 miles northeast of Oroville in the Feather River Canyon. No homes or other buildings were threatened by the blaze, fire information officer Fred Krueger said.
Investigators said Union Pacific Railroad maintenance crews working on tracks Thursday near the resort town of Storrie started the fire.
In Wyoming, the south entrance to Yellowstone National Park reopened Monday after being closed since Thursday by a nearby wildfire.
In Idaho, the nation's largest wildfire continued to devour the Salmon-Challis National Forest. The fire had consumed about 159,000 acres and was about one-third contained. Almost 1,600 people were assigned to fight the blaze, as well as 16 helicopters and 58 fire engines.
About 5,900 people were assigned to Idaho fires that have cost almost $58 million to fight and consumed nearly 1 million acres this summer.