News Briefs 06-18-14

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By Associated Press

Crews battling Navajo fire brace for more wind 

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Firefighters are bracing for another day of hot, dry and windy conditions as they battle a fast-moving wildfire that has consumed thousands of acres of pinon and juniper forest along with traditional grazing lands that Navajo families depend on to raise sheep and other livestock.
The Assayii Lake Fire blackened more than 19 square miles in less than two days while making its way across summer and winter grazing areas in the Chuska Mountains, just east of the Arizona-New Mexico border. The flames destroyed at least four structures and threatened about 50 homes near the communities of Naschitti and Sheep Springs, fire officials said. Some homes in Naschitti were evacuated, and authorities were urging Navajo families to refrain from heading into the mountains to search for their sheep and other livestock.

Santa Fe man drowns swimming in Rio Grande
SANTA FE — Authorities say a Santa Fe man has drowned while swimming in the Rio Grande.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that 43-year-old Jesse J. McNamara was in the river north of Pilar on Monday shortly before 3 p.m. when he was swept underwater by currents.
Taos County Undersheriff Edwardo Romero says his girlfriend called 911 and McNamara’s body was found a half-mile downstream near the Agua Fria campground.

Counties to share $37M in federal funding
ALBUQUERQUE — The federal government will be sending more than $37 million to New Mexico to compensate counties for non-taxable federal lands within their borders.
The U.S. Interior Department announced the payments Tuesday. They’re made each year as part of the Payments in Lieu of Taxes Program. Nearly $437 million will be paid out nationally this year.