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Colorado wildfire prompts air quality alert

By: The Associated Press
June 9, 2018 Updated: June 9, 2018 at 11:50 am
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The 416 Fire burns through a grove of aspen trees Friday, June 8, 2018, west of U.S. Highway 550 near Hermosa, Colo. (Jerry McBride/The Durango Herald via AP)

DURANGO — Health officials have issued an air quality alert in southwestern Colorado because of heavy smoke from a wildfire.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said Saturday that smoke has reached unhealthy levels in La Plata County as far south as the Colorado-New Mexico border.

The area includes the communities of Durango and Hermosa and the Southern Ute Reservation.

Officials say the smoke should begin to lessen and move northeast later Saturday.

The fire has burned more than 11 square miles (29 square kilometers) and prompted the evacuation of up to 1,300 homes. No homes have been destroyed.

The fire started June 1 in the San Juan National Forest but the cause hasn't been determined. It comes amid a severe drought in the Four Corners area where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet.

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