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Unprecedented gusts expected to fan wildfires in New Mexico

Weather conditions described as potentially historic are on tap for New Mexico on Saturday and over the next several days as the largest fire currently burning in the U.S. chews through more tinder-dry mountainsides. The blaze already has left many families homeless and thousands of residents have evacuated rural areas of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Forecasters are warning that gusts over the weekend could top 50 to 60 mph. Firefighters in preparation have spent days building fire lines and aircraft have dropped fire retardant in strategic spots in an effort to keep flames from reaching the small northeastern city of Las Vegas and villages on the fire's other fronts.

Hobbs woman who fled in police car after shooting arrested

HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — A woman who reportedly stole a police vehicle after the man she was with engaged in a shootout with Hobbs police in February has been arrested. Police looking for 28-year-old Janessa Perez went to a Hobbs home Friday afternoon and saw her peeking out the back door. Officers surrounded the house and she surrendered. Officers have been looking for Perez since Feb. 23. That's when a man in a vehicle police thought was stranded ran away and exchanged gunfire with officers. The man was killed and an officer was wounded. Perez escaped in a police vehicle, crashed it and had been on the run ever since.

Fire-ravaged New Mexico villages cling to faith, 'querencia'

As the largest wildfire burning in the U.S. marches across northern New Mexico, residents have been guided by their faith and their connection to each other and the land. They've pleaded with God for intervention in the form of rain and calm winds, and protection for their neighbors they see as reflections of themselves. They've invoked the Virgin Mary and the patrons saints of firefighters and the various villages scattered across the landscape. The fire has burned hundreds of square miles, destroying dozens of homes in largely Hispanic working-class neighborhoods and forcing thousands to evacuate. Winds will be a major concern this weekend.

New Mexico regulators adopt clean car rule

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico regulators have adopted more stringent motor vehicle emissions standards as part of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's push against climate change. The rule was adopted Thursday by the state Environmental Improvement Board following a joint public hearing with air quality officials who oversee the Albuquerque metro area. Following in the footsteps of California, the new rule takes effect July 1. It will require reduced emissions in cars, trucks and SUVs starting with the 2026 model year. The state is calling for more electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to be sold. Meanwhile, utility officials are still working on plans to ensure they have enough capacity to meet future demands.

Roswell police: Officer pinned against vehicle, dragged

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — The Roswell Police Department said one of its officers was pinned against another vehicle before being dragged through an intersection Friday. A police statement said the incident occurred when the officer checked on an unresponsive driver of a car stopped in an intersection. The statement said the driver suddenly accelerated the car, pinning the officer against another vehicle and then dragging him through the intersection. It said the driver was taken into custody and that the the officer was taken to a hospital but was expected to be OK. No additional information was released.

US panel to focus on Native American missing, slain cases

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland wants to do more than just put a bandage on a crisis that she says has been decades in the making. Haaland on Thursday announced the members of a commission that will craft recommendations on how the federal government can better tackle unsolved cases in which Native Americans and Alaska Natives have gone missing or have been killed. Haaland blamed the disproportionately high number of such cases on a lack of urgency and coordination. The commission is expected to hold public hearings and gather testimony over the coming months. Meanwhile, some tribes and states, including New Mexico, have created their own response plans to address the problem.

New Mexico seeks opportunity in Texas border disruptions

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is highlighting its support for proposals to route an international rail line through its Santa Teresa border crossing, capitalizing on Mexico's unease with disruptions along the Texas portion of the U.S. border. Mexico had considered a route through Texas, but in recent days officials have said they can no longer rely on that state. Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in April required all commercial trucks from Mexico to undergo extra inspections, tying up traffic. The administration of Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Wednesday that it will send a delegation to Mexico City to explore opportunities at the border crossing.

Fire crews close in around massive New Mexico wildfire

LAS VEGAS, N.M. (AP) — Firefighters in New Mexico are taking advantage of diminished winds to build more fire lines and clear combustible brush near homes close to the fringes of the largest wildfire burning in the U.S. The blaze has charred hundreds of square miles of tinder-dry forest, destroying dozens of homes and triggering the evacuation of thousands across an expansive stretch of rural northeastern New Mexico. President Joe Biden has approved a disaster declaration for areas devastated by the fire, while a congresswoman pressed the U.S. Forest Service on Thursday for a full account of its role in lighting a prescribed fire that fed the conflagration.