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Authorities search for berry picker in fire zone

 

August 20, 2013

AP Photo/Missoulian, Kurt Wilson

Traffic on U.S. Highway 12 near Lolo, Mont., retreats to safety from the West Fork II fire that grew from less than 100 acres Monday morning to about 3,500 acres and burned both sides of the highway. Residents had just minutes to evacuate in front of the fast moving fire.

LOLO (AP) — Authorities are searching for a man who went berry picking near Lolo Creek just before a wildfire moved into the area.

The Missoula County Sheriff's Office says 60-year-old Mark Hannah went with a friend Monday to pick huckleberries off U.S. Highway 12.

The Missoulian reports (http://bit.ly/19GYPgr) the men headed back when they noticed increasing smoke, but became separated.

Hannah's friend made it to a dirt road that led back to the highway, and a sheriff's deputy drove the person home.

Sheriff's office spokeswoman Paige Pavalone says Hannah has not been heard from since.

She says Hannah may have gotten stuck because of traffic or stayed overnight to search for his friend.

Two wildfires in the area have grown to nearly 8 square miles and burned an undetermined number of homes.

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