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Montana firefighters hope for rain



GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, Montana (CNN) -- Firefighters battling a 65,400-acre wildfire in and around Glacier National Park prepared for windy conditions Wednesday, hoping for help from possible rain and cooler temperatures.

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reports that a cold front is expected to move across northern Idaho and Montana during the day, "bringing scattered showers and thunderstorms with cooler temperatures and gusty shifting winds."

"If we get a lot of rain out of this, it could hold up the fire long enough where we could have an effect on controlling it. If we just get a few drizzles and then if we get more wind than rain, it's going to be bad," said Tom Danton, an information officer for the blaze, which is named the Moose Fire. "We've got a bunch of people going out to see what they can do with it."

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The fire is named after Moose Creek and Moose Mountain, located in the area where the blaze started.

Temperatures Tuesday were cooler and winds were calm.

"If we get many days like yesterday, we can do some good work," said Bob McKinney, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman.

No homes have been destroyed and only minor injuries have been reported since the fire began burning August 14.

The blaze is only 5 percent contained, the NIFC said. Without significant rainfall or snow, full containment could take several weeks, fire officials said.

The total number of structures threatened in the fire area are 40 residences and a commercial property, Danton said. About 10 of the homes were evacuated Monday, he said.

More than 1,000 firefighters had been dispatched around a 60-mile fire perimeter Tuesday after severe wind gusts grounded air tankers and firefighters from protecting homes, shops and property Monday.

Some of the worst conditions expected Wednesday in the West have been predicted for the northern and central portions of Nevada, which could get strong winds and humidity. Two active large fires have been reported in the state.

Very high to extreme fire conditions Wednesday were being reported in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

In all, 17 large active fires are burning Wednesday in the following states: Montana, 5; Idaho, 3; Nevada, 2; Wyoming, 4; California, 1; Washington, 1; and Oregon, 1, the NIFC said.

Four large fires Wednesday have been listed as contained: 2 in Montana, 1 in South Dakota and 1 in California, the NIFC said.

CNN Producer Stanley Wilson contributed to this report






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