HELENA, Mont. (AP) — As record-breaking cold grips parts of Montana this week, the number of state residents seeking help to pay their heating bills so far this winter is up about 4 percent from the same time last year.

As of Feb. 15, there were more than 16,300 households in Montana approved for federally funded assistance administered by the state known as the Low Income Energy Assistance Program. That's about 720 more households than in 2017.

The Great Falls Tribune reports the number is up 14.4 percent from 2016, a state official said, but added it was not a record number of people in the program.

State officials said 76 percent of the people helped through LIEAP are elderly, disabled or have a child in the household.

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Information from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com