Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT
SPRING WILDFIRES-INJURED FIREFIGHTERS
- SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Federal authorities say three firefighters battling the largest blaze burning in the U.S. were injured — one of them seriously — when a helicopter dropped part of a load of water on them. It happened last weekend in northern New Mexico's Pecos Wilderness. One member of the hotshot crew underwent several surgeries at an Albuquerque hospital to repair skull fractures and a broken kneecap. The Bureau of Land Management confirmed Friday that an investigation was ongoing. The blaze was the result of two government planned burns aimed at clearing the forest of overgrown and dead vegetation.
- WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to travel to New Mexico to hear from state and federal officials as the largest wildfire in state history continues to burn outside Santa Fe. The White House says Biden will meet June 11 with New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, first responders and personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The nearly two-month-old fire is 62% contained after charring roughly 495 square miles (1,282 square kilometers) in rugged terrain east of Santa Fe.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK-AVALANCHE
- ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. (AP) — Authorities have released the name of a man who was killed in a rock fall and avalanche that also injured two other climbers at Rocky Mountain National Park. The Boulder County coroner's office identified the victim Friday as 25-year-old Christopher Clark, of Land O' Lakes, Florida. Two New Mexico climbers were injured in Sunday's avalanche. A helicopter crew on Tuesday lifted Clark's body from the avalanche zone on Mount Meeker, where rescuers worked in winter conditions in terrain above 11,500 feet at the site near Dreamweaver Couloir. Climbers in the area witnessed the slide.
- ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A national conservation group has acquired a sprawling ranch near a New Mexico mountain peak held sacred by Native American tribes. The Trust for Public Land announced Thursday that land managers will be able create New Mexico's largest state-owned recreation property, near Mount Taylor. The $34 million effort comes as state and federal officials look for opportunities to preserve more natural landscapes amid climate change. The property encompasses more than 84 square miles of grassland, volcanic cones, rugged mesas and part of the Mount Taylor Traditional Cultural Property, which is on the state register of historic places due to its significance to Native Americans in New Mexico and Arizona.
ELECTION 2022-NEW MEXICO-ATTORNEY GENERAL
- SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Democratic voters are deciding on a nominee for New Mexico attorney general as state prosecutors contend with a surge in urban gun violence. Voters also have concerns about water supplies, pollution, consumer protection and political extremism. Albuquerque-based District Attorney Raúl Torrez is running against State Auditor Brian Colón for the Democratic endorsement to succeed termed-out Democratic Attorney General Hector Balderas. Absentee and early in-person voting are underway in advance of Election Day next Tuesday. The winner will compete against Republican attorney and U.S. Marine veteran Jeremy Michael Gay of Gallup. Republicans have held the office only three times in New Mexico's 110-year history.
SUSPENDING SCHOOL BOARDS-NEW MEXICO
- SANTA FE N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Public Education Department has approved a new rule allowing the state to suspend a school district board because of fraud or other serious problems that severely impair the district. The rule approved last week allows both emergency and nonemergency suspensions of entire boards but not individual members. The rule includes a requirement that the state provide notice to the district and replaces a rule adopted in 2005 that applied to superintendents, principals and charter school governing boards. The state in 2021 suspended the Los Lunas and Floyd school boards but department spokeswoman Judy Robinson said the revised rule was intended to clarify the process, not a response to a particular incident."
- NEW YORK (AP) — Eleven jurors accused one juror of political bias before saying they were deadlocked in deliberating the fate of a Colorado businessman accused of defrauding investors in a wall along the U.S. southern border. Federal Judge Analisa Torres read jurors a so-called Allen charge late Thursday in the trial of Timothy Shea two full days into deliberations. The instruction designed to spark productive deliberations Friday came after jurors said in a note that they couldn't agree on a unanimous verdict on any count. Eleven jurors earlier had asked that one juror be replaced, saying he showed anti-government bias and had accused the other jurors of being liberals.
- 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.