State to fight Mont. coal seam fires

          State to fight Mont. coal seam fires

16 March 2009

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MT, USA — State officials say they plan to extinguish nine fires smoldering in underground coal seams in eastern Montana, including a 20-year-old blaze that sparked a large wildfire last year.

The fires are burning in the counties of Custer, Yellowstone, Musselshell, Powder River and Prairie. Two of the fires were confirmed last week and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality suspects more may be burning unnoticed.

Agency officials say putting out the fires by digging up the seams and dousing the coal with water and soil could help prevent wildfires.

Lightning strikes and wildfires are the main cause of coal seam fires. Others are started by people who use coal mine waste piles for burning trash.

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