September 7, 2022
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Strong winds and blistering temperatures will set the stage for new wildfires to spread uncontrollably in parts of the U.S. Northwest and Northern Plains Wednesday, according to forecasters who said the dangerous conditions will sweep into the central Plains by Thursday.
The National Weather Service warned of “extremely critical” fire conditions across 22,600-square-miles in northern Montana including the cities of Great Falls and Havre.
Near-record temperatures, wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour and tinder-dry fuels mean fires could spread rapidly.
Portions of western Montana, Oregon, northern California, Idaho and Washington state also had critical wildfire danger.
The risk will shift to the south and east Thursday with warnings issued for areas of South Dakota, Nebraska and Idaho.
Nearly 54 million people were under heat warnings and advisories across the West as temperature records were shattered in many areas.
Relief was nearing for parts of the region: A fast-moving cold front out of the Canadian Rocky Mountains was expected to drive down temperatures to well below average by Friday.