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Local smoke may be from N.M.

By Shane Benjamin Herald staff writer

(12:30 p.m. Thursday) The National Weather Service said today that smoke in the Durango area appears to be coming from fires smoldering in New Mexico, but it is uncertain of the exact origin.

Durango-area foresters assured that no fires were burning in the immediate vicinity, said Ann Bond, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service.

Meanwhile, the West Fork Complex remained active Thursday with a “red flag warning” issued because of dry, hot, windy conditions. Afternoon thunderstorms were expected to develop over the 83,004-acre burn area, with the possibility of lightning and little chance for rain.

Wolf Creek Pass remains closed Thursday; traffic along Colorado Highway 149 – between South Fork and Del Norte – was allowed through every hour with a pilot car escort.

The town of South Fork remained evacuated for the seventh day.

Gov. John Hickenlooper stopped by the fire command center Thursday in Del Norte.

The West Fork Complex consists of three fires: the Windy Pass Fire at 1,403 acres, the Papoose Fire at 26,483 acres and the West Fork Fire at 55,118 acres.

The West Fork Fire was the first; it started June 5 from lighting. There is no containment, and 1,406 people are working the fire.

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