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Wildfire in northeastern New Mexico expected to keep growing

LAS VEGAS, N.M. (AP) — A wildfire near a small northeastern New Mexico community is expected to keep growing, but authorities were encouraged by a forecast for Tuesday of improving humidity and shifting winds. The blaze near Las Vegas, New Mexico, has charred 217 square miles (562 square kilometers) and prompted some Las Vegas residents to leave, though no evacuations were ordered within the city. The blaze is expected to keep growing, putting it on track to possibly be one of the largest in the state's recorded history. Its growth on Sunday led to evacuations in Mora and other small communities. Crews got a break Monday as winds diminished and helicopters were able to make water drops.

As wildfire closes in, New Mexico residents prepare to flee

LAS VEGAS, N.M. (AP) — Wind-whipped flames are marching across more of New Mexico's tinder-dry mountainsides, forcing the evacuation of area residents and dozens of patients from the state's psychiatric hospital as firefighters scramble to keep new wildfires from growing. The big blaze burning near the community of Las Vegas has charred more than 217 square miles. Residents in neighborhoods on the edge of Las Vegas were told to be ready to leave their homes. It's the biggest wildfire in the U.S. and is moving quickly through groves of ponderosa pine because of hot, dry and windy conditions that make for extreme wildfire danger. Forecasters are warning of extreme fire danger across New Mexico and in western Texas.

Albuquerque sees 3 different homicides over the weekend

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities in Albuquerque are dealing with three difference homicide scenes that occurred over the weekend. Albuquerque police say on Sunday officers responded to a single-vehicle car crash. One person died at a hospital. But the victim had suffered a gunshot wound. Earlier in the day around 4 a.m., a woman asked a neighbor to call police after she claimed to have stabbed her boyfriend. Officers found a man dead with wounds consistent with a stabbing. The woman was taken to the hospital for injuries and has not been arrested. Then on Saturday night, police found two people shot to death inside a home. There have been no arrests.

Arizona wildfire forces fast decision: Fight or flee flames?

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Ferocious winds that sent what was a small wildfire racing toward homes on the outskirts of a northern Arizona city presented a dilemma. Most residents in the "Girls Ranch" neighborhood north of Flagstaff, Arizona, fled the flames. One couple stood their ground. Another raced to save animals on neighbors' properties. Two homes in the close-knit neighborhood were among 30 in the area that were destroyed. The wildfire left a mosaic of charred land before it was almost fully contained this weekend. The blaze is one of many this spring that have forced panicked residents to make life-or-death, fight-or-flee decisions as wildfire season heats up in the U.S. West.

Man accused of impersonating Albuquerque policeman faces DWI

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a man accused of impersonating an Albuquerque police officer last month also is facing a DWI charge. Raul Martinez had his initial court appearance Saturday. Albuquerque TV station KOB reports that two different videos show Martinez announcing himself as a city police officer at a gas station and a neighborhood. According to a criminal complaint, three women at the gas station said Martinez appeared to be drunk and was slurring his words. A judge decided Martinez could be released from jail on his own recognizance on the impersonation case, but he was held for a March 20 DWI charge that violated conditions of his release. It was unclear Sunday if Martinez has a lawyer who can speak on his behalf about the two cases.

Firefighters battling New Mexico blaze brace for wind

Calmer weather conditions in northern New Mexico have helped over 1,000 firefighters battling the nation's largest active wildfire. But fire managers warn of windy conditions expected in the coming days, and officials urged residents to remain vigilant for further possible evacuation orders. A fire operations official says the fire's rapid growth forced crews on Friday to repeatedly change positions because of dangerous conditions. No injuries were reported. The official says improved weather Saturday aided firefighting efforts. The fire has burned at least 166 homes. Wildfires also are burning elsewhere in New Mexico and in Arizona.

Vegas water intake now visible at drought-stricken Lake Mead

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The water supply for Las Vegas has marked a milestone, with a water intake breaking the surface of drought-depleted Lake Mead and the activation of a new pumping facility to draw water from deeper in the crucial Colorado River reservoir. The Southern Nevada Water Authority released photos this week of the uppermost intake visible at the lake behind Hoover Dam. The agency says a deeper intake completed in 2020 that's called the third straw continues to let Las Vegas pump water from its primary supply while the lake level continues to decline. The moves come as several states relying on the Colorado River take new steps to conserve water amid ongoing drought and climate change.

New Mexico's Gathering of Nations powwow back after pandemic

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — What is billed by organizers as the world's largest powwow is being held in person in Albuquerque for the first time since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The Gathering of Nations is returning following all-virtual powwows in 2020 and 2021. Friday's festivities included a grand entrance, with hundreds of dancers forming a procession that filled the arena at the state fairgrounds. The event wraps up late Saturday with the crowning of Miss Indian World. In 2019, the Gathering of Nations drew more than 80,000 people from across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Organizers say it also led to an economic impact of $24 million.