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The Thompson Ridge wildfire that's charred nearly 24,000 acres in the Jemez Mountains west of Los Alamos during the past two weeks is now 80 percent contained with little growth in new fire activity, according to a Monday morning update.
For the third consecutive day fire activity was restricted to unburned fuels within the interior where a total of four acres have burned since Friday. Minimal fire activity is expected today as crews continue rehab, mop up and patrol of the perimeter.
The Arizona Central West Zone Incident Management Team will be joined on the line by members of the Albuquerque Zone Type III Incident Management Team who will assume management of the fire at 6:00 am Tuesday.
The fire will continue to smolder through the interior where unburned fuels remain. Interior fire potential will increase Wednesday and Thursday with increasing temperatures and drying southwest winds.
Rehabilitation of fire damage will be addressed by the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team. Specialists of different disciplines will work with the various agencies and pueblos affected by the fire to assess damage and recommend actions.
All points of entry to the Valles Caldera National Preserve are closed to public access due to fire activity. The Fenton Lake State Park is also closed to the public.
The Los Alamos National Laboratory will not be fined after a lab machinist was exposed to higher-than-allowed levels of beryllium. That news comes from a May 29 letter addressed to LANL Director Charlie McMillan from the Department of Energy’s Office of Enforcement and Oversight.
The letter stated that the ignored procedures for collecting and controlling personal exposure assessment air samples and didn’t keep accurate hazard assessment and exposure control records when an employee was exposed to more than 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of beryllium during an eight-hour shift, exceeding DOE’s “action” level.
The letter from Office of Enforcement and Oversight Director John Boulden stated, “the facts and circumstances indicate weaknesses in LANS’ collection and documentation of industrial hygiene exposure assessment information and the application of that information to anticipate, identify, evaluate, and control beryllium hazards. These weaknesses may prevent LANS from establishing a definitive cause for an event and identifying appropriate corrective actions when occupational exposure limits are exceeded.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A man has been arrested after authorities say he threatened to blow up the Albuquerque FBI field office with explosives folded into a burrito.
The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/14C56Fd) that 50-year-old Brian DeMarco was arrested Thursday just as he was boarding a bus to Amarillo, Texas, at the Albuquerque Greyhound bus station.
According to a criminal complaint, DeMarco told agents of his plot in a call to a West Virginia FBI office from his Albuquerque motel room.
The complaint says DeMarco also told agents that he had placed a timed bomb at the Albuquerque Social Security Administration building but no bomb was found.
DeMarco is facing charges of violating interstate communications laws and creating a hoax.
It was unclear if he had an attorney.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Global defense contractor Science Applications International Corp. has agreed to pay $11.75 million to settle a federal civil claim alleging it overbilled the government for homeland security training programs under a more than decade-long scheme that was well-known among high-level executives.
U.S. Attorney Ken Gonzales on Thursday announced settlement of the lawsuit, which alleged systemic fraud in the program SAIC ran for the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. The program trains emergency personnel to respond to terrorist attacks under a Department of Homeland Security grant program that saw major funding increases after Sept. 11.
Gonzales declined comment when asked if the Justice Department was investigating whether the alleged overbilling extended to other government-funded programs run by the defense contractor.
The lawsuit alleged SAIC told federal officials it was using mostly high-paid full-time employees with benefits when it was actually using cheaper part-time workers, enabling SAIC to keep costs low and profits excessive.
Authorities say the Thompson Ridge fire in northern New Mexico now is 60 percent contained as of Thursday morning.
That’s 10 percent higher than earlier Wednesday and officials say the fire grew by only about 90 acres. It now is at 23,946 acresThe fire has burned nearly 36 square miles in the western portion of the Santa Fe National Forest and in the Valles Caldera National Preserve.
It began May 31 because of a downed power line.
Fire officials say cloud cover allowed nearly 900 firefighters and support personnel to get a lot of work done.
Previously unburned fuel in the fire’s interior produced tall plumes of smoke Tuesday.
Some of that was due to crowns of trees catching fire after being dried out from when low-intensity fire moved through an area previously.
The Thursday morning update said, “Firefighters took advantage of favorable conditions to conduct burnout operations along the containment line on the southwest flank of the fire along Valles Caldera Road 02 (VC02).
Former Los Alamos Fire Department employee Jessie Noah filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico June 5, according to court documents obtained by the Los Alamos Monitor this week.
Defendants listed in the suit include LAFD, the Los Alamos County Council, Aaron Adair, Jerry Adair and LAFD Captain Jeff Wetteland.In the suit, Noah claims she was the victim of extreme sexual exploitation while employed at LAFD and suffered additional acts of gender discrimination.
The complaint lists one of the defendants as Aaron Adair, a former LAFD captain. Adair pleaded no contest back in 2010 to charges of voyeurism and tampering with evidence. Magistrate Court Judge Pat Casados sentenced Adair to 364 days of supervised probation and he was given a conditional discharge from the LAFD.
The suit lists close to 90 different allegations against the defendants.
Noah is seeking a trial by jury, compensatory damages, including back pay, front pay, loss of earnings, loss of benefits, loss of promotional opportunities, loss of career opportunities, lost earning capacity, emotional distress, and other consequential, incidental and special damages. Noah also is seeking punitive and exemplary damages, prejudgment and post judgment interest and reasonable attorney fees.
Hollywood heavyweights Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Morgan Freeman and more demand a world without Nuclear Weapons in the latest ad for the Global Zero campaign.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A 10-year-old girl whose efforts to qualify for an organ donation spurred public debate over how organs are allocated underwent a successful double-lung transplant on Wednesday, the girl's family said.
Sarah Murnaghan, who suffers from severe cystic fibrosis, received new lungs from an adult donor at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, spokeswoman Tracy Simon said.
The Murnaghan family said it was "thrilled" to share the news that Sarah was out of surgery.
"Her doctors are very pleased with both her progress during the procedure and her prognosis for recovery," the family said in a statement.
During double-lung transplants, surgeons must open up the patient's chest. Complications can include rejection of the new lungs and infection.
Sarah went into surgery around 11 a.m. Wednesday, and the procedure lasted about six hours, her family said.