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GREAT FALLS — Montana authorities say a fire that destroyed nine structures northwest of Great Falls on Monday may have been caused by several residents shooting explosive targets.

The Great Falls Tribune reports that Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter says three males admitted to using explosive targets while target shooting in the middle of a field.

One of the three reported the fire just after 1 p.m. Monday.

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Slaughter says the three are cooperating with the investigation.

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There was no immediate word on whether any of the individuals would be charged in connection with the fire, which burned about 25 square miles of grassland.

One unoccupied residence and eight outbuildings were destroyed. More than 20 residences were evacuated before the fire was contained about 6:45 p.m. Monday.

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