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Two Colo. Fires Could Merge

Crews were battling five lightning-sparked wildfires around the resort town of Steamboat Springs, including two that had consumed more than 36,500 acres and threatened to merge.

Officials managing the two wildfires in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness were considering setting backfires between the two fires. The fire was 5 percent contained Wednesday.

On Tuesday, rain temporarily forced many firefighters off the lines because managers feared slippery mud could cause injuries. But the heavier-than-expected rain also kept wildfires from spreading.

The Big Fish fire was estimated at 14,500 acres Wednesday, 1,000 acres larger than the day before. But fire information officer Roger Miller said the change was mostly due to better mapping.

The fire in the remote Flattops Wilderness 35 miles southwest of Steamboat Springs was being allowed to burn. Crews would begin to fight the fire if it spread toward private land, he said.

Another 4,400-acre fire northwest of Steamboat Springs was 58 percent contained Wednesday night after firefighters used a bulldozer to build a line on its southeast flank.

In Oregon, backcountry settlements remained on notice to be ready to evacuate ahead of the biggest fire in the state in more than a century, but the threat continued to diminish as firefighters mopped up the fire.

The Biscuit fire remained 50 percent contained on nearly a half-million acres of the Siskiyou National Forest and adjacent lands in southwestern Oregon and northern California. The fire was started by lightning July 13.

The cost of fighting the fire rose to $87.7 million, with 6,145 people involved.