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Blackfeet Reservation Wildfires: Investigators Probe Cause Of Montana Blazes

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In this photo taken Wednesday Jan. 4, 2011 showing smoke and fire rising over Browning Mt. Blackfeet tribe officials say firefighters are starting to get a handle on two wind-fueled fires that have burned buildings and forced evacuations on the northwestern Montana reservation. (AP Photo/Angelika Harden-Norman)
In this photo taken Wednesday Jan. 4, 2011 showing smoke and fire rising over Browning Mt. Blackfeet tribe officials say firefighters are starting to get a handle on two wind-fueled fires that have burned buildings and forced evacuations on the northwestern Montana reservation. (AP Photo/Angelika Harden-Norman)

BROWNING, Mont. -- A Blackfeet tribal spokesman says investigators believe a downed power line and a spark from a chimney caused the two wildfires that scorched 16,000 acres on the northwestern Montana reservation.

The fires sprung up at about the same time Wednesday evening outside Browning. High wind gusts spread the flames, burning at least two homes and causing hundreds to evacuate.

Spokesman Wayne Smith says the fires were 95 percent contained Friday afternoon.

Officials have not yet finished their investigation, but Smith says they have ruled out arson. He says investigators believe a power line downed by wind caused one of the fires.

One investigator concluded the other fire was caused by a spark from a chimney. Smith says two others went to the site to confirm those findings.

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