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The Nation

Montana Fires Could Cause Power Outages

August 17, 2003|From Associated Press

HELENA, Mont. — Wildfires threatened power transmission lines across the state Saturday, and residents of four cities were warned to prepare for the possibility of blackouts.

Workers for NorthWestern Energy hauled 95-foot power poles into a burned area that was still smoldering west of Billings to rebuild torched lines that caused a brief outage earlier in the week.

The fire flared up later Saturday, but the renewed activity was not near the burned lines and the workers did not pull out, said Susan Fischer, a spokeswoman for the utility.

Fires were also threatening other major lines on the western side of the state, where some of the power has been rerouted from lines that burned.

NorthWestern officials said Friday that more damage could lead to major blackouts this weekend and warned customers in Missoula, Butte, Bozeman and Hamilton to be prepared.

Two dozen major fires burning in Montana on Saturday had covered almost 200,000 acres.

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