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A 600-acre wildfire southeast of Roundup slowed overnight, according to Musselshell County officials, allowing fire crews to establish containment lines around half of the blaze that destroyed two buildings in the Johnny's Coal Road area.

Firefighters hope to fully contain the fire by Wednesday, when a cold front is forecast to bring powerful winds through the area again, said Floyd Fisher, deputy coordinator for Musselshell County Disaster and Emergency Services.

"We're supposed to have a pretty good wind event tomorrow, so tomorrow will be the day to put everything into check and make sure that holds," he said. "Hopefully we'll get a little moisture with it."

The fire was first reported Sunday night. Strong winds pushed the flames through the sparsely populated network of residential roads in the Bull Mountains. By Monday morning it had consumed one house and a hunting cabin. The homeowner was able to escape without injury.

Calmer weather on Monday allowed local, state and federal firefighters to begin securing the fire perimeter, and about 20 residents were allowed to return to their homes when evacuation orders were lifted Monday evening.

"What I'm trying to emphasize is that people need to be watching and looking, and if something does pop, if they see smoke, they have some kind of plan already pre-made in their minds as far as how they would leave the area safely," Fisher said.

The Musselshell County Sheriff's Office and the Montana Fire Marshal are investigating the cause of the fire.



Morning Reporter

General assignment reporter for the Billings Gazette.