NEWS

UPDATE: WESTERN U.S. WILDFIRES

COLORADO

Firefighters are clearing brush and wetting grass on the edges of a forest near the Colorado-Wyoming border where a blaze has burned 8 square miles. Crews are concentrating on keeping the flames from about 40 nearby vacation homes. So far, only a few small structures have burned. Officials have stepped up their response since the blaze broke out Sunday, with 379 firefighters on the lines versus 120 earlier in the week. A team experienced in dealing with a complex fire got in place Thursday. Team spokesman Brian Scott said Friday that large, standing trees killed by a beetle infestation are fueling the blaze. A dead tree could fall at any time, creating a risk to firefighters. Scott says heavy rains overnight didn’t dampen much of the fire, but it didn’t spread. Thunderstorms expected this weekend could bring winds that spread the flames.

NEW MEXICO

A wildfire that has burned 28 square miles in central New Mexico is nearly contained. The blaze in the Manzano Mountains south of Albuquerque has destroyed two dozen homes. It was more than 80 percent contained as of Friday morning. Fire officials say crews benefited from nearly 3 inches of rain falling on areas of the fire Thursday. They say the chance of hot spots igniting has decreased drastically. Meanwhile, firefighters further north are battling a wildfire within the municipal watershed for Santa Fe. The blaze, which started Thursday afternoon, has grown to 15 acres and isn’t at all contained.

CALIFORNIA

A wind-whipped wildfire burning among mountain communities in California’s southern Sierra Nevada has ballooned to more than 29 square miles. The latest measurement at midmorning Friday is more than double the previous estimate. About 100 buildings around the popular recreation area of Lake Isabella have been destroyed, including 80 homes, since the blaze erupted Thursday afternoon and sent residents fleeing. Fire authorities say an additional 1,500 structures are threatened. Six hundred firefighters are battling the blaze about 35 miles northeast of Bakersfield and hundreds more are on their way.

An explosive wildfire that has destroyed 80 homes and is threatening some 1,500 other residences in the central California mountains has grown to more than 12 square miles. Fire officials said Friday that the blaze also has destroyed about 20 other buildings around Lake Isabella, a major outdoor recreation destination in the southern Sierra Nevada. It’s not clear what those structures were. Forecasters have posted warnings of very low humidity and gusty winds of up to 55 mph that could worsen the fire 35 miles northeast of Bakersfield. Similar warnings are posted 150 miles south for mountains near Los Angeles.

ANOTHER GARCO CLERK THEFT

Glenwood Springs—Another case of embezzlement at the Garfield County Clerk and Recorder’s Office has been reported. Alicia Macias of Silt is suspected of stealing close to 18 thousand dollars while working in the clerk’s vital records division between 2011 and April of last year. Macias resigned about a year ago and if she’s convicted would be the third employee from the Garfield County Clerk and Recorder’s Office to be caught stealing in the last four years. In the most recent case, former longtime employee Robin McMillan was sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing over 440 thousand dollars in public funds. Garfield County has implemented tougher guidelines and controls to prevent further internal thefts.

PUBLIC WANTS TO KNOW WHERE JAMES HOLMES IS IMPRISONED

Centennial—(AP) – A state committee that handles victims’ rights issues is planning to take up complaints against the state corrections department that the agency violated their rights by refusing to reveal where gunman James Holmes is serving his life sentence. Several survivors of the 2012 attack that killed 12 and injured 70 have said they are upset after prison officials quietly transferred Holmes to an out-of-state prison in January after he was attacked by another inmate.

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