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A predawn fire broke out in a barn for blue-ribbon horses at the Western Montana Fair, destroying it and part of another and killing 26 horses.

The fire started around 4 a.m. on a Thursday. Fire Chief Robert Kelly said the cause might never be determined, but insisted fireworks from the Wednesday night show were not to blame. 

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Roy Rodenberger of the fair board said Ross Howell of Polson lost seven Tennessee Walkers in the fire. Hartley Lambert of Stevensville lost three race horses and three show horses. Don Shea, Howard Raser and Fred Plummer of Missoula lost two horses apiece, as did Bill Haynes of Hot Springs and Ann Hayes of Evaro. Damage was set at $66,000.

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Mineral County, veterans issues

Outlying communities, transportation, history and general assignment reporter at the Missoulian