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Smoke from Daniel Boone fire spreads

It might take a few days for firefighters to extinguish a blaze at Daniel Boone National Forest in Wolfe County, a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman says.

Dozens of firefighters are setting fires at natural boundaries in an effort to burn into the core of the fire, spokeswoman Kimberly Morgan said. As a safety precaution, the teams are working only during daylight hours.

"They're trying to get this over with as quickly as possible," Morgan said.

She said rain could help the situation.

The National Weather Service predicts a 40 percent chance of rain, possibly thunderstorms, Wednesday. There's a 60 percent chance of rain in Wolfe County on Wednesday night.

Morgan said trails in the vicinity of the fire remain closed. And a campfire ban is being implemented Monday. The ban, which includes fireworks, probably will be in effect for 120 days.

Lexington fire Battalion Chief Jim Wells said the department received several calls this weekend from people concerned about the smell of burning, and firefighters are checking areas from which those calls are received.

Fire officials say the smell of smoke that has permeated Lexington probably will stick around until the fire dies or the winds send the odor in another direction.

Morgan said another fire was reported Sunday in the Stearns district of Daniel Boone National Forest, in McCreary County, and the forest service has called for extra help to extinguish that fire.

The fire in Wolfe County, northeast of Slade, started when an abandoned campfire that had been smoldering for several days, burst into flame Friday and burned more than 150 acres in Daniel Boone National Forest over the weekend.

By late Sunday afternoon, the fire had been contained, said Mitch Gandy, forest fire management officer.

More than 50 firefighters were battling the fire, including 20 from the Pine Knot Job Corps Center. Also fighting the blaze were about 20 professional firefighters from Arkansas and Oklahoma who were brought in to fight several fires in the south end of the national forest.

"We don't normally get fires this big," Gandy said. "This is a large fire for us."

Because the terrain is too steep and rocky to dig a fire line around the blaze, the firefighters went to natural boundaries such as creeks, hiking trails and the Red River and set fires. These are designed to burn toward the core of the fire and create a fire break around it, Gandy said.

If this technique is successful, the fire will burn 576 acres by the time it flames out, he said.

The official fire season for the 700,000-acre Daniel Boone forest starts Oct. 15. "Because it is unusually dry, we are having more fires than we normally have," Gandy said.

In addition to the main fire, firefighters put out three abandoned campfires on Sunday and about that many Saturday.

"On a couple of these fires, you could tell they had tried to put the campfire out," he said. "But we're so dry, it just takes an ember to send up a spark, and there it goes."

The forest management is considering banning campfires, Gandy said.