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Update, 8:30 p.m. A fire that started Monday morning about 15 miles east of Roundup quickly spread to a square mile and was threatening 25 to 35 houses, but firefighters halted its advance by the afternoon, Musselshell County Commissioner Larry Leske said.

Residents were warned they might have to leave, but Leske said contrary to earlier reports, no evacuation was ordered.

Update, 3 p.m. Wind is picking up on the Allen Fire and blowing it toward the Delphia Pine subdivision east and north of Roundup.

"It will be a mess if it gets in there," said Susan Goffena, who lives with her husband Frank on a ranch on Allen Road. "All the ranchers are out with their bulldozers. There are planes on it, too."

She said there were lots of homes in the rural subdivision. Fire information officer Paula Short said 25 to 35 structures are threatened.

Goffena said that at present her home isn't in danger, but it could be if the wind shifts. All the water tenders on the ranch were being filled in case they are needed.

About 3 p.m. she was headed to the home of her husband's cousin, Cheryl Goffena. The two women plan to make sandwiches to feed firefighters.

The fire is burning north of the Delphia fire, which burned 40,653 acres in August. That fire burned south of Highway 12. The Allen fire is north of the highway.


 A new fire scorching its way through grass and timber in rough, broken country was reported Monday off Highway 12 east of Roundup.

Musselshell County Commissioner Sue Olson said it was burning about three miles west of the Delphia Pine subdivision. Evacuations have been ordered for some areas of the subdivision.

The Allen fire near Allen Road was estimated at 20 acreas at noon, she said.

Paula Short, fire information officer, said about 2 p.m. that it had grown to between 300 and 400 acres. It was believed to have started Monday morning when lightning passed through Musselshell County.

Musselshell County firefighters are on the scene and have requested assistance from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

Derek Yeager of the State Lands office in Billings said 12 engines, two air tankers, a lead plane, a helicopter, dozers and a water tender have been sent.

"They are being really agressive with it," he said.

Critical fire conditions are expected across the area and most of the state today. The National Weather Service reported humidity at 6 to 11 percent in the fire area with variable winds at 7 mph.

But a cold front expected to move in Monday afternoon could bring west winds at 23 mph with gusts of between 30 and 40 mph. Drought has made vegetation especially vulnerable to rapid fire spread.