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The blaze near Seeley Lake, northeast of Missoula, destroyed one house, and damaged another house, a commercial building and seven outbuildings. It blackened more than 18,000 acres, or 28 square miles.

About 200 homes were under an evacuation order. Residents allowed to make brief return trips yesterday morning were required to be out again by midday, when fire activity typically heightens.

Missoula County Undersheriff Mike Dominick said a few people remained despite the order. Montanans tend to think of themselves as self-sufficient and some “believe that their residence won’t be affected or that they can fight the fire,” he said.

Humidity was expected to drop today, creating hot and dry conditions after a period of damp, cloudy weather during the weekend.

NEVADA

Pet owners warned about urban coyotes

RENO — Wildlife officials issued a warning to local pet owners, saying urban coyotes are hunting for dogs, cats and other pets.

The federal Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services said coyote activity is high now because the animals are feeding growing pups. It also said coyotes move into cities across the West because they are lured by water and food available year-round.

NEW JERSEY

3 friends killed behind school

NEWARK — Three friends were forced to kneel against a wall behind an elementary school and were fatally shot at close range, and a fourth was found about 30 feet away with gunshot and knife wounds to her head, police said.

All of the victims in the shootings late Saturday were from Newark and planned to attend Delaware State University this fall.

No arrests had been made by yesterday and authorities had not identified suspects, said Paul Loriquet, a spokesman for the Essex County prosecutor’s office.

The four had been listening to music in a parking lot behind Mount Vernon School when they were gradually joined by a group of men, authorities said. Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy said the four exchanged text messages saying they should leave but were attacked before they could do so.

Natasha Aerial, 19, was listed in fair condition at Newark’s University Hospital, authorities said. Police identified her companions as her brother, Terrance Aerial, 18, Iofemi Hightower, 20, and Dashon Harvey, 20.

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