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As Eastern Montana burns, tinderbox conditions creep west (copy)

Cows graze in front of hills burning in the Bridge Coulee fire in the Lodgepole Complex near Sand Springs.

MISSOULA — Small businesses in Montana affected by forest fires this year can apply for federal help.

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced this week that small businesses in Flathead, Granite, Lake, Mineral, Missoula, Powell, Ravalli and Sanders counties can apply for federal disaster loans of up to $2 million.

Gov. Steve Bullock asked for the federal assistance in early December.

The loans are based on financial damage the fires caused for a business, not property damage.

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Small businesses must apply by September of 2018.

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