Local News

  • New Mexico fire prompts emergency decree, evacuations

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A wildfire burning in central New Mexico grew to more than 3-square miles and forced evacuations, after sending up a towering plume of smoke that blanketed the state's largest city in a thick haze.

    The blaze burning in the Manzano Mountains southeast of Albuquerque prompted Gov. Susana Martinez to declare an emergency, clearing the way for state funds to be used.

    Evacuations continued overnight in Bernalillo and Torrance counties, Bernalillo County officials said. At least 50 residences had been evacuated by Thursday morning, they said, and several people had taken shelter at a community center in Tijeras, which also took in dozens of pets.

    The New Mexico Environment Department and state Health Department of Health issued an advisory, warning that smoke from the fire would affect Albuquerque and the surrounding areas as well as other parts of New Mexico, including Santa Fe, as it drifted north.

    The forecast called for more hot, dry and stagnant weather, and officials said that's expected to contribute to increased smoke concentrations throughout this weekend.

    The governor issued the emergency declaration Wednesday and directed state agencies to offer all available resources to assist local authorities. Martinez said the first priority is the health and safety of New Mexicans.

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  • Carlsbad Caverns adjusts schedule for Obama's visit

    CARLSBAD CAVERNS NATIONAL PARK (AP) — Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southern New Mexico has announced adjustments to its public schedule to accommodate a visit from President Barack Obama.

    Park spokeswoman Valerie Gohlke says the public will be able to enter the park Friday until 11 a.m. when the main gate will close. Visitors already in the park then must exit before 1 p.m.

    Big Room cave tours will be available in the morning, but no other cave tours will be offered to the public that day.

    The Natural Entrance will remain closed all day.

    The park is expected to open again at 4:30 p.m. with the bat flight program taking place as usual at 7:30 p.m. in the outdoor amphitheater.

    Obama's visit coincides with the National Park Service's celebration of its 100th anniversary.

  • Wildfire burns 800-1,000 acres, forces residents from homes

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Authorities don't have a containment estimate yet for a wildfire burning in the Manzano Mountains southeast of Albuquerque but say good weather helped firefighters attack the fire overnight.

    The so-called "Dog Head Fire" in part of the Cibola National Forest east of Los Lunas started Tuesday and grew to over a square mile by Wednesday morning after its growth slowed overnight.

    Officials issued voluntary evacuation advisories for areas northeast of the fire, but Forest Service spokeswoman Donna Nemeth says there's no immediate estimate on how many people left their homes or otherwise affected.

    Nemeth says there are no reports of homes being immediately threatened.

    The fire is being fought by ground crews and air tankers.

    Cause of the fire is under investigation.

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  • ‘Safety Town’ heads into second year

    For the next two weeks, a bumper crop of soon-to-be kindergartners will be navigating “Safety Town,” a partnership program between Los Alamos Public Schools and the Los Alamos Police Department.
    By the time it ends, they will probably know more than their parents about how to navigate traffic safely by bike and by foot and how to stay safe at home and when they’re playing outdoors.
    “All of the planned activities are a combined effort with Los Alamos County employees and the Los Alamos Police Department,” Superintendent of Schools Kurt Steinhaus, in a letter to parents about the program. “Keeping your child safe at school is our top priority.”
    Safety Town was introduced last year by Los Alamos Police Chief Dino Sgambellone as a way to show kids going off to school for the first time how to keep safe when their parents aren’t around.
    The program was popular last year. This year, Safety Town has three classes of 57 students at Mountain Elementary School. Last year, there were 39 students enrolled.
    For the next two weeks, the kids will tackle a different topic everyday, including bike safety, “stranger danger” animal awareness, fire safety, water safety and other subjects. Each day begins at 9 a.m. and ends at noon.

  • Surgeon general calls for greater investment in opioid fight

    ALBUQUERQUE — U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Tuesday called for more government investment in addressing the nation’s opioid epidemic, saying only half of the 2 million people who need treatment for addictions have access to it.
    Murthy’s comments came as he toured a substance abuse center in Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city. New Mexico had one of the highest overdose death rates in 2014, especially among adults 21 to 35, the most recent federal data showed.
    Nationally, overdoses from heroin, oxycodone and other opiates killed more than 28,000 Americans in 2014, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
    Murthy and others are advocating for more funding because of that figure, along with a “treatment gap” that Murthy says deprives roughly a million Americans from getting the counseling, medication and other services they need to beat addictions.
    Social stigma and a lack of treatment centers — especially in communities that need it most — share some of the blame for stifling access to care, he said.

  • Keller awaits parole hearing

    Los Alamos resident Zachary Keller, 27, pled not guilty June 8 in magistrate court to charges he hit his ex-girlfriend.  
    The ex-girlfriend called police shortly after the alleged incident took place June 7 and filed a complaint against him.
    She told police that they had been arguing earlier in the day. Keller told her he wanted to move out of the apartment they shared together.
    According to the girlfriend, the argument became more heated as he started moving his things out of the apartment.
    She told police that she stood in front of him in an attempt to get him to stay. That’s when she said he “threw her to the ground.”
    “(The victim) showed me her arms, and there were noticeable red marks on both her right and left arms, which is consistent with her story,” an officer reported in a report filed in court.  
    Keller pled “not guilty” to the battery charge. If convicted, he could spend up to a year in jail.
    Keller was also ordered to remain in custody because, according to Los Alamos District Court, Keller had also violated the terms of a drug treatment program he was enrolled in as part of his sentence for crimes he committed in January.
    Keller was released June 12.