Morning News Update Friday June 21st

Jun 21, 2013


Evacuation Order Lifted Near Raging Silver Fire - The Associated Press

An evacuation order for a historical mining town near a wildfire in southern New Mexico's Gila National Forest was lifted Thursday as the growing blaze jumped to 57 square miles, officials said.

Incident Commander Matt Reidy announced that Kingston residents with special entry permits will be allowed to return to the town but cautioned that fire danger remained for the area.

The residents have been very understanding and their cooperation was appreciated during this trying time period," said Reidy. "We understand residents have been away from their homes and are very anxious to return home."

However, officials said he Kingston area will remain closed to everyone except residents until further notice. People were evacuated last week after the lightning-caused fire moved closer to the town.

Fire officials said the blaze was 20 percent contained as of Thursday night. They said the inferno grew just as firefighters finished setting up protections around a nearby historic mining town. The fire's growth was blamed on persistent hot and dry weather that caused it to expand another 10 square miles overnight.

Mop up continued near Kingston while indirect dozer and hand line construction was completed on the east flank. A line was also completed on the west side of the blaze in East Quaking Aspen Canyon and Rabb Park, according to fire officials.

The wildfire is expected to burn more acreage throughout the week, spilling smoke into nearby towns.

More than 500 firefighters are battling the blaze.

There will be a public meeting about the fire at 6 p.m. at the Round Up Lodge in San Lorenzo.

Southern NM Community Faces Water Outage - The Associated Press

Authorities are warning Sunland Park residents that a drinking water well has failed and system-wide outages are expected.

The Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office on Thursday evening was urging residents who depend on the Camino Real Regional Utility Authority to conserve in preparation for the expect outages.

The well was online when wind caused a power outage in the area. When the power came back on, the well did not resume pumping.

Crews are on scene, and officials say the well could be repaired as early as Friday.

The Camino Real Regional Utility Authority provides water service for Sunland Park and most of the unincorporated areas around the Santa Teresa County Club and the Santa Teresa Port of Entry.

NM Senators Propose Increasing Border Crossing Hours - The Associated Press

U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall are pushing for congressional approval to open New Mexico's Santa Teresa bordering crossing 24 hours a day.

The New Mexico Democrats say they have introduced an amendment to the Senate immigration reform bill that would extend the hours of operation for both commercial and private vehicles from 12 to 24 hours. The senators say that keeping the Santa Teresa Port of Entry open will help reduce congestion in El Paso while facilitating trade and security along the border.

Last month, the senators sent a letter asking Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to open the port 24 hours a day.

Martinez attends Tribal Summit - The Associated Press 

Gov. Susana Martinez is in Ruidoso for meetings with the state's tribal leaders.

The annual Tribal Summit is being held Friday at the Mescalero Apache tribe's Inn of the Mountain Gods.

Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell said the governor, most of her cabinet and leaders from the state's nearly two dozen tribes will discuss issues like education, economic development, healthcare and natural resource management.

Knell says the governor appreciates the opportunity together on key challenges, such as raising student achievement and improving health outcomes among Native Americans.

Governor signs order to help with NM fire recovery - The Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has declared an emergency due to the increased potential for flooding in areas left bare by wildfires.

She signed the executive order on Thursday following a tour of the area charred by last year's Little Bear Fire near Ruidoso. The fire was the most destructive in the state's recorded history, having destroyed more than 240 homes and other buildings.

Martinez says wildfires can leave a lasting impact on communities long after the flames are out.

With the governor's order, $750,000 will be available to prepare for and to minimize the harm of potential flooding in burn areas.

After the Little Bear Fire, summer rains deposited large amounts of debris in Bonito Lake and contaminated water supplies for the village of Ruidoso and the city of Alamogordo.