Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MDT
Steam railroad to postpone season opening due to fire threat
The commission that oversees a historic steam railroad in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado has voted to delay opening its operating season by nearly three weeks because of the extreme wildfire threats in the region. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad operates passenger trains on 64-miles of narrow-gauge tracks between Chama, New Mexico, and Antonito, Colorado. The two states own the railroad, which provides an economic boost to a five-county region. The commission voted during an emergency meeting Wednesday to delay the opening from June 11 to July 1. Thousands of firefighters are currently fighting major wildfires in New Mexico, including the largest in the state's recorded history.
US Interior Secretary Haaland tests positive for COVID-19
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has tested positive for COVID-19 and has mild symptoms. The Interior Department says Haaland is isolating in Nevada where she took part in a roundtable discussion Tuesday about clean energy production on public lands. The agency says Haaland began experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus on Wednesday and tested positive. She has canceled further travel around the U.S. West and is working remotely. The Interior Department says the 61-year-old Haaland is confident she'll recover quickly. Haaland is fully vaccinated and has received two booster shots.
Facility to be upgraded to serve larger wildfire tankers
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A planned $15 million upgrade will allow a Forest Service facility at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque to serve the largest tanker aircraft used to fight U.S. wildfires. The larger "tankers can hold about 5000 gallons (18,900 liters) of retardant, about three times as much as the aircraft that currently use the Cibola National Forest Air Tanker Base at Kirtland, Sen. Martin Heinrich said improving the base will reduce the time it takes for large aircraft to get involved in fighting wildfires. The New Mexico Democrat toured the banker base Tuesday. The project could break ground in the fall.
Body recovered after avalanche in Rocky Mountain park
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. (AP) — Authorities say rescuers have recovered the body of a man who was killed in a weekend rock fall and avalanche that also injured two climbers at Rocky Mountain National Park. Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson says a helicopter crew lifted the man's body from the avalanche zone on Mount Meeker on Tuesday. The Boulder County coroner's office planned to release the man's identity after an autopsy, Patterson says. Two New Mexico climbers were injured in Sunday's avalanche. Michael Grieg, 27, of Albuquerque was airlifted by helicopter and hospitalized at Medical Center of the Rockies. Grieg's condition wasn't known Wednesday. Lillian Martinez, 24, of Albuquerque suffered minor injuries, Patterson says.
Pro golfer Bart Bryant killed in vehicle accident in Florida
POLK CITY, Fla. (AP) — Professional golfer Bart Bryant was killed and his wife was injured when a truck slammed into their SUV while they were stopped on a central Florida road for a construction crew. The Polk County Sheriff's Office says Bryant was unresponsive when emergency responders in Polk City, Florida, found him Tuesday. He was taken to a hospital where he died. His wife was taken to a hospital with minor injuries. According to the sheriff's office, the Bryants' SUV was stopped at the construction site near an intersection. A truck traveling in the same direction failed to see their stopped SUV and slammed into it.
New Mexico man accused in woman's killing caught in Arizona
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico man accused of shooting the mother of his child to death with the toddler in the room has been captured in Arizona. Lovington Police Chief David Miranda told KOB-TV in Albuquerque as he was driving back from Holbrook, Arizona, Monday that 26-year-old Zion Gibson killed the victim as the 3-1/2-year-old girl was nearby. According to investigators, 25-year-old Rosa Trujillo called 911 on May 23 when Gibson showed up outside her home in Lovington. The dispatcher heard the sound of gunfire. Authorities say Gibson drove into Arizona. State police there took over pursuing him. He crashed his car in Holbrook and surrendered after a brief standoff.
Jury deliberates verdict in 'We Build The Wall' fraud trial
NEW YORK (AP) — A prosecutor told jurors in closing arguments at a criminal trial that there is overwhelming evidence that organizers of a "We Build The Wall" campaign to raise money for a wall along the U.S. southern border defrauded investors. Prosecutor Robert Sobelman urged Manhattan federal court jurors Tuesday to deliver guilty verdicts against the lone defendant: Timothy Shea. Jurors deliberated briefly and will resume their work Wednesday. Former presidential adviser Steve Bannon was once a defendant, but ex-President Donald Trump pardoned him. Two others have pleaded guilty. Shea's lawyer, John Meringolo, insisted in his closing that reasonable doubt should lead jurors to acquit Shea.
Crews make gains against New Mexico wildfire, largest in US
Crews are making progress in stopping the nation's largest active wildfire from spreading. Progress on Monday came on the fourth straight day of warnings of extreme fire conditions in northern New Mexico. The nearly 8-week-old fire was surrounded by containment lines cut and scraped around half of of its perimeter enclosing 493 square miles of forested mountains and foothills east of Santa Fe. Nearly 3,000 firefighters and other personnel were assigned to the blaze, the largest in New Mexico's recorded history. Officials said crews in recent days were able to extinguish hot spots and allow only minimal growth,.