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Colorado fire crews hope for weather shift

DEL NORTE, Colo. — Crews defending small homes, a ski area, and a handful of roads against an erratic wildfire in Colorado’s southwest mountains hoped Monday for a break — any break — in the weather that will allow them to launch a more strategic assault on the backcountry blaze.

The West Fork Fire may burn for months, said incident commander Pete Blume. And crews are not expecting to make any real gains against the 117-square-mile burn until the summer monsoon season brings cooler temperatures and rains, hopefully in early July.

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‘‘We are not going to see any significant containment until we have significant changes in the weather,’’ said Blume, who is with the Rocky Mountain Type I Incident Command.

The fire is feeding on beetle-killed trees and is fanned by hot, windy weather. Those conditions were expected to continue across much of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, where a 119-square-mile wildfire in the mountains of Gila National Forest is expected to grow this week because of the weather.

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