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BUTTE — Hundreds of firefighters from around western Montana and Salt Lake City were in Butte on Saturday, hacking and cutting their way through local abandoned buildings as part of disaster training drills.

The training was part of a mutual aid exercise by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Under one scenario, firefighters responded to a school that had collapsed following a major earthquake, trapping several students inside.

Using large sledge hammers, axes and power saws, crews cut their way through the brick walls of the former Immaculate Conception School, which was condemned by county officials last fall. Two similar drills were conducted at abandoned homes in Uptown Butte.

Royce Haacenson of the Salt Lake City Fire Department said 45 of his officers came to Butte for the drills. The city's federal team would respond to Montana in case of a disaster.

The training was held in conjunction with the Fire Alliance Conference in Butte, which was attended by about 300 firefighters statewide.

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