MONTANA FLOODING UPDATE
Crews assess flood damage in Montana
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Weather forecasters warn that rising temperatures later this week in Montana could increase runoff from melting snow.
National Weather Service forecaster Chauncy Schultz said temperatures are forecast to reach the 50s.
Warm weather over the past week unleashed large amounts of water from record snowfalls, pushing many streams and rivers over their banks.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock declared a flood emergency after forecasters put 30 of the state's 56 counties under some type of high water warning.
In Richland County, two men were rescued from an ice jam after they drove up to the Yellowstone River's edge and the water began rising too quickly for them to escape.
A helicopter from the 91st Missile Wing was called in to hoist the men to safety early Tuesday morning.
Bullock staff: Don't feed fire on Senate questions
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Gov. Steve Bullock's top adviser recommended he "shut down" any questions about who would be appointed to replace former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus.
Chief of Staff Kevin O'Brien wrote several emails to Bullock in December as news broke of Baucus' nomination as ambassador to China.
O'Brien wrote on Dec. 20 the vacancy issue "is a fire, the more oxygen we give it the more it will burn."
O'Brien wrote the governor could shut down questions about the appointment by saying there is no vacancy and he would not address it.
Baucus' anticipated Senate resignation prompted weeks of speculation on how Bullock would select a replacement.
Bullock rebuffed questions, saying no vacancy existed until Baucus resigned.
When Baucus did resign in February, Bullock announced his pick was then-Lt. Gov. John Walsh.
Bail set at $1M for attempted rape suspect
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - Bail was set at $1 million for a 28-year-old Bozeman man charged with assaulting and trying to rape his former girlfriend and escaping from police custody, leading to a search throughout the western US.
Kevin Briggs made an initial appearance in Gallatin County Justice Court Tuesday on charges of aggravated assault, attempted sexual intercourse without consent, assaulting a peace officer and escape. He was represented by a public defender.
Briggs was arrested early on Feb. 1 after his former girlfriend reported she believed he may have drugged her, tried to rape her and strangled her when she resisted. He walked out of the police station after officers left him unattended in an interview room. He was arrested on Feb. 21 in Portland, Ore., and was returned to Bozeman on Monday.
OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING
State, county identify deputy, shooting victim
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The state Department of Justice and the Ravalli County sheriff's office have released the names of a Hamilton man who was shot by a sheriff's deputy, and the deputy who fired the shot.
Officials say Deputy Tod Wofford shot 47-year-old Lonnie Gene Roberts at a residence southeast of Hamilton on March 6. The DOJ has said Roberts apparently was distraught about problems he was having with his girlfriend and that he picked up a gun and pointed it at Wofford, who had responded to a 911 call from Roberts.
Wofford was placed on paid administrative leave while the shooting is investigated.
The Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting.
Powell County Coroner John Pohle is the coroner in the case. The DOJ says a coroner's inquest will be scheduled.
NEGLECTED ANIMALS SEIZED
Ravalli County seizes neglected animals
HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) - The Ravalli County sheriff's office has seized more than four dozen animals from a resident after an investigation found they were being neglected.
The owner, a 74-year-old man in failing health, faces a charge of aggravated animal cruelty. His name was not released.
Officers seized 17 head of cattle, 21 sheep, three donkeys, a horse, two yaks, four chickens and three ducks from the man on Monday.
Undersheriff Steve Holton says volunteers with the Bitterroot Humane Society helped move the animals to locations where they can receive proper care.
BUTTE FIRE INVESTIGATION
Cause of Butte house fire under investigation
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) - Fire officials in Butte are investigating a fire that caused extensive fire, smoke and water damage to a house less than two weeks after a man fell on cut glass and bled to death at the residence.
Fire Marshal John Lasky tells The Montana Standard the March 7 fire is suspicious "especially since we had the death there."
The homeowners escaped the fire through the back door. Their two adult children, who also lived at the residence, were not home at the time.
A 32-year-old man died in the house on Feb. 24. Butte-Silver Bow County officials say Jeff Kraus fell into the glass from a broken window when he was too intoxicated to care for himself and bled to death from a cut on his left wrist.
WOLF POINT FIRE
Wolf Point furniture store destroyed by fire
WOLF POINT, Mont. (AP) - Fire destroyed a longtime Wolf Point furniture store on Monday, but no injuries were reported.
Police Chief Jeff Harada says the fire at Gysler Furniture was reported shortly after 2:30 p.m. on Monday. He says an employee noticed the fire, was able to alert a co-worker who was downstairs and get her and a customer out safely.
Harada says firefighters ended up knocking down two walls of the 100-year-old building to get better access to fight the fire and to prevent the fire from spreading to an adjacent pawn shop.
Harada says fire crews remained at the scene overnight as the building, which covered about a third of a block, continued to smolder.
A state fire marshal was called in to investigate the fire's cause.
MONTANA AVALANCHE DEATH
Skier dies in avalanche in Montana
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) - A 27-year-old man has died in an avalanche while he was backcountry skiing in southwestern Montana.
Granite County Sheriff Scott Dunkerson says Peter Maxwell of Missoula died of asphyxia. Dunkerson says Maxwell probably triggered the avalanche.
Maxwell was with a group of six other skiers northeast of Philipsburg in the Altoona Lakes area Monday when the slide occurred. Dispatchers received the call at about 3 p.m.
The other skiers with Maxwell dug him out, but they were unable to revive him.
Maxwell is the fourth person to die in western Montana avalanches since Jan. 1. Including him, 22 people have died in avalanches nationwide since Dec. 26, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
Snowmobiler dies in Montana avalanche
COOKE CITY, Mont. (AP) - Park County authorities say an 18-year-old Minnesota man has died after he was buried in an avalanche while snowmobiling.
The name of the victim was not immediately released.
The Park County Sheriff's Office says it received a report of a snowmobiler buried in the Daisy Pass and Crown Butte area near Cooke City about 4 p.m. Tuesday.
KTVM-TV reports that the victim was found under about 6 feet of snow shortly after 5 p.m.
The sheriff's office says the victim was with a group of six others and was sitting on his snowmobile about halfway up the slope when he was overtaken by the avalanche. One other member of the party tried to outrun the avalanche and was knocked off his snowmobile but not buried. He was slightly injured.
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