Fire Prompts Emergency Declaration By Bernalillo County, Bear Euthanized After Attack

Jun 20, 2016

Crews Monitor New Mexico Wildfire Amid Dry, Hot WeatherAssociated Press

Firefighters say they plan to vigilantly monitor a massive wildfire in central New Mexico amid continuing of hot and dry weather conditions.

Fire officials said Sunday that light winds could contribute to heightened activity within the blaze that erupted last week in the Manzano Mountains south of Albuquerque.

Higher humidity overnight allowed crews to strengthen lines around the fire and mop up. KOB-TV reports Sunday night, Bernalillo County Commissioners declared a state of emergency. That follows a declaration by Gov. Susana Martinez, which will increase access to federal emergency funds and resources.

But firefighters are now keeping watch for any potential hot spots where flames could jump across the line.

More than 950 personnel are working on the fire and helicopters and air tankers continue to drop retardant.

The roughly 28-square-mile wildfire has destroyed 24 homes and is still a threat to several rural, mountain communities.

It is 9 percent contained.

The cause remains under investigation.

Crews Fighting New Mexico Blaze Get Help From Mother Nature The Associated Press

Hundreds of firefighters assigned to a blaze that has destroyed two dozen homes and charred 28 square miles in central New Mexico are making progress with more favorable weather.

Crews were helped Monday by double-digit humidity levels, cooler temperatures and cloud cover.

They have established at least some kind of line all the way around the fire burning in the Manzano Mountains using bulldozers, natural features in the terrain and hand-clearing by firefighters over the last few days.

Still, fire information officer James Stone says the blaze is considered only 9 percent contained while crews bolster those lines to ensure there's no chance of the flames running beyond the perimeter.

Stone said there will be a big effort Monday to patrol the perimeter and look for any hot spots.

Runner Recovering After Black Bear AttackThe Associated Press 

A marathon runner is recovering after a bear attacked her roughly 2 miles from the finish line of a race in New Mexico's Jemez Mountains.

Wildlife officials say a female black bear mauled the woman Saturday after she unknowingly surprised one of its cubs in the Valles Caldera National Preserve near Los Alamos. The woman was taking part in an annual race.

She went to a hospital with injuries to her head, neck and upper body and was released Sunday.

Authorities have euthanized the bear, saying state law requires them to put down any wild animal that attacks or bites a person.

New Mexico Department of Game and Fish officers are searching for the bear's three cubs Monday, with plans to take them to a nearby wildlife center.

FBI Veteran, A Rare Outsider, To Lead US Border PatrolThe Associated Press

An FBI veteran has been named to head the U.S. Border Patrol, bringing in an outsider to run an agency traditionally led by agents who rise through the ranks.

Mark Morgan, who briefly led the internal affairs department at the Border Patrol's parent agency, has been chosen to oversee a multibillion-dollar annual budget and about 20,000 agents who patrol the nation's land borders with Canada and Mexico and its maritime boundaries.

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske informed staff Monday in a memo obtained by The Associated Press.

In 2014, Kerlikowske tapped Morgan to help review complaints of excessive force and misconduct by Customs and Border Protection employees.

Morgan replaces Michael Fisher, who retired last year.

Immigration Judges In New Mexico Deport More ImmigrantsSanta Fe New Mexican

Immigrants in New Mexico illegally are more likely to face deportation orders from judges than immigrants nationally.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports a new study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University found that 83 percent of undocumented immigrants in New Mexico were ordered deported by judges since October.

That goes against a trend nationally of dropping deportation orders by judges. The report found those declined to 42 percent. Thirty-eight immigrants from New Mexico got deportation orders from a judge in El Paso since the fiscal year began in October and eight were allowed to stay.

But Olsi Vrapi, an immigration attorney, told the Santa Fe New Mexican that while the number of immigrants facing deportation orders through an immigration court may decline, actual deportations may not go down. He said the Obama Administration is using other mechanisms to pursue deportations.

Immigrants accused of violating immigration law are more likely to be prosecuted in federal courts and those prosecutions increase by 80 percent in New Mexico between 2011 and 2015 according to another report by the Transactional Records Clearinghouse.

Legal Battles Over Albuquerque Transit Project ContinueAlbuquerque Journal

The city of Albuquerque has hired a team of attorneys to contend with lawsuits filed to stop a planned bus rapid transit project due to start construction soon.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Mayor Richard Berry’s administration has tapped Denver law firm Kaplan Kirsch and Rockwell LLP to defend against lawsuits arguing the project would violate environmental and historic preservation laws, among others.

The amount of the city contract with the Denver firm could reach $75,000.

The $119 million project would create dedicated bus lanes and stops in the middle of Central Avenue. Most of the project would come from federal transit funds.

Albuquerque Police Officer Delivers Baby On Freeway KOB-TV, Associated Press

An Albuquerque police officer made a traffic stop she likely won't forget anytime soon.

KOB-TV reports that Lt. Ferris Simmons responded to a 911 call from a woman in labor in her car on I-25 early Saturday.

Authorities say the mother was driving to the hospital with her two young sons in the car when she had to pull over and call 911.

Simmons arrived and had to run across the highway to get to the vehicle.

The officer delivered the baby boy within minutes around 3:30 a.m.

Officials say the newborn is healthy and the mother is also doing well.

Eddy County Officials Investigate Illegal Cow Killings Carlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

Authorities are trying to determine who illegally shot and killed two cows belonging to Eddy County cattle owners.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports that the killing has elicited a $1,000 reward from the Eddy County Cattle Growers, an organization devoted to issues affecting ranchers.

According to the Eddy County Sheriff's Office, deputies responded June 11 to find the abandoned cows. Investigators believe the animals could have been shot as early as June 9.

The total direct loss is estimated at $2,800, excluding additional costs such as potential future calves.

Undersheriff Mark Cage says it doesn't appear the cattle were killed to obtain meat, as they had not been butchered. He says it looks like the cattle were killed just for cruelty.

Dispute Over Hatch Chile Labeling Heats UpAssociated Press

A federal appeals court is siding with an association of green chile producers in the Hatch Valley of southern New Mexico in a dispute over what food can be fairly labeled with the renowned Hatch name.

The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ruled in favor of the Hatch Green Chile Association and allied food distributor El Encanto in their efforts to subpoena records that may indicate whether a rival's products contain Hatch chiles as marketing suggests.

The subpoenas could influence the outcome of a related dispute before a federal trademark board over efforts by the Hatch Chile Co. to trademark the term "Hatch" for its exclusive use.

Hatch Chile Association board member Preston Mitchell applauded the decision by a three-judge panel as a step toward reserving the Hatch name for chiles that are certifiably from the Hatch Valley.