Fires are torching Montana, and the money is running out

PHOTO: Cal Fire's DC-10 Air Tanker, Photo Date: December 8, 2008
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HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- Montana's worst fire season in years is expected to scorch the drought-stricken landscape well into fall, long after the state's firefighting reserves run out thanks to politicians diverting millions of dollars to fill a budget shortfall.

State Department of Natural Resources and Conservation director John Tubbs says there is only $12 million left of the $63 million in the firefighting fund in June, and the state is burning through that at a rate of $1.5 million a day.

The state's financial worries come as forecasters for the National Interagency Fire Center predict that eastern Montana, southern California and the western Dakotas could be exposed to major wildfire threats into October or November.

AP-WF-08-02-17 0756GMT