Wilderness fire growth slows

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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) A fire burning in timber downed by a 1997 windstorm in a wilderness area north of Steamboat Springs has calmed significantly due to cool, cloudy weather.

The Mad Creek fire in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area grew to 1,025 acres through Monday evening, up from the 670 acres reported Sunday. Much of the growth came from smaller fires set to reinforce containment lines around the blaze.

Crews have built containment lines around 35 percent of the fire's perimeter.

Five Hot Shot crews from Colorado, New Mexico, Montana and Wyoming are among a group of 145 firefighters working on the fire. Full containment was expected by Thursday, said Craig Interagency Dispatch Center spokeswoman Punky Moore.

Two other fires on the Western Slope are being allowed to burn to clear out undergrowth and reduce fuels.

The lightning-sparked West Plateau fire in the San Juan National Forest north of Dolores has grown to 200 to 300 acres.

So far this year in Colorado, 862 fires have burned 11,603 acres.

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