Fire officials report “big day” for fire, evacuations
“Another hellish day on this fire, folks,” fire spokesman Bill Morse said at the conclusion of last night’s daily update on the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire. Updated: As of this morning, the blaze had grown to 236,939 acres with 33%. Yesterday was " a big day for fire behavior,” and a “big day for evacuations,” Morse noted, with the latter including the inclusion of evacuation statuses from ready to go in Taos and Colfax counties. “This fire has enough energy, there is a possibility, with the models we are running, that those areas are going to see fire,” Todd Abel, one of the fire operations sections chiefs, said last night. Additional evacuations were lifted in San Miguel County, though many communities remain in “set” status; The state Environment Department Drinking Water Bureau issued a “precautionary water advisory” Tuesday night urging nearly 4,000 residents who have been permitted to re-enter some evacuated areas to take caution with water. The Cerro Pelado Fire in the Jemez at last report had grown to 42,491 acres, 11% containment, although yesterday brought slower growth than has been seen in recent days. Both fires, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a briefing yesterday, are “very risky, extremely dangerous large fires.” Yesterday’s fire activity produced a large smoke plume, visible from Santa Fe and throughout Northern New Mexico. “When you see a smoke column that we see today, that definitely raises the anxiety, it makes you nervous,” Incident Commander Dave Bales said, encouraging people to remain alert to evacuation statuses and the fire’s behavior as critical fire weather persists. “That fire’s gonna have some steam here I think in the next few days,” Bales said.
Santa Fe City Council resumes in-person meetings
If you’re one Zoom meeting away from throwing your computer out the window, take heart: The City of Santa Fe resumes in-person meetings today, starting with the City Council at 5 pm. Governing Body and council committees, along with Planning Commission meetings and Historic Districts Review Board meetings will be held in-person and will be streamed live on the city’s YouTube channel (Council meetings also air on Comcast Channel 28 and on KSFR 101.1 FM). All other city boards and commission meetings will be held in-person. The public can now participate by attending in person, but can also submit written comments through the city’s meetings portal (this must be done at least four hours before the meeting begins). As for tonight’s City Council meeting, it seems like it could be a long one, but on the front end, look for an update from CHART, which just launched its second survey and an update on that pesky late audit.
Forensic testimony aids prosecutors’ case in teen shooting trial
Yesterday’s fifth day of testimony in the murder trial for Estevan Montoya, charged with shooting and killing Santa Fe basketball star Fedonta “JB” White, shed light on a primary point of contention in the case: how the two teenagers were positioned as the shooting took place. According to witnesses, it happened in a matter of seconds as the two squared off in the front yard of a home in Chupadero. The defense claims Montoya was attempting to escape the confrontation and fired as White chased him. Prosecutors, attempting to prove premeditated murder, argue Montoya turned, planted his feet and fired directly at White. Dr. Lauren Decker, an expert in forensic pathology with the state Office of the Medical Investigator, provided testimony the bullet went downward, indicating the gun was fired from above, aiding prosecutors’ argument that White was running or lunging at the time. The trial also homed in on Montoya’s “first version” of the shooting, approximately 12 hours after it took place in August 2020, in which he told a detective, “I didn’t shoot nobody.” Montoya has since backtracked and said he shot White in in self-defense.
COVID-19 by the numbers
New cases: 251; 524,895 total cases
Case rate: Yesterday’s weekly geographic trends report from the state health department lists Santa Fe County with a case rate per 100,000 for the seven-day period of May 2-8 at 21.2, the third highest in the state, following De Baca (38.8) and Los Alamos (29.5)Deaths: 13; At last count, Santa Fe County has had 280 total deaths; there have been 7,581 total fatalities statewide. Hospitalizations: 55; Patients on ventilators: seven
Resources: Vaccine registration; Booster registration Free at-home rapid antigen tests; Self-report a positive COVID-19 test result to the health department; COVID-19 treatment info: oral treatments Paxlovid (age 12+) and Molnupiravir (age 18+); and monoclonal antibody treatments. Toolkit for immunocompromised individuals. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453.
You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.
In early April, SFR got word Española’s venerable Rio Grande SUN, after nearly 70 years, would no longer be owned by the Trapp family and had been sold to an investment group that includes prominent members of the state’s Republican Party. New Mexico PBS reflects on the SUN’s legacy in the valley, talking with former owner, editor and publisher Robert Trapp Jr.; new editor and publisher Richard Connor; former reporters and editors; the special episode includes clips from Ben Daitz’s 2013 documentary The Sun Never Sets.
NM student filmmakers in the limelight
The Louisiana-based Film Prize Junior—self-described as the South’s largest student film festival—expanded to New Mexico for the first time this year, garnering coverage this week from NPR. Tulsi Shaw, a home-schooled student, won in the Middle School group for best stop-motion/animation for her film Earth, a “claymation creation about a three-inch-tall being who leaves his family to explore an alien planet—this planet.” Shaw tells NPR: “He goes on all these little adventures and finds all these treasures. But when it’s time for him to go back to his planet and family, he realizes that not all the treasures will fit in his spaceship. And so he can only choose one to bring back.” (Spoiler: He chooses a sunflower seed). Several Santa Fe students won in the high-school category, including Zoe McDonald from New Mexico School for the Arts for comedy; Siena Tan from the Master’s Program at Santa Fe Community College for best drama; and Ada Sophia Santos from Capital High School for best sci/fi/horror film. You can watch the films on the Film Prize New Mexico website, and view the awards ceremony here.
ABQ plot twist
Phoenix magazine zeroes in on Albuquerque for a summer food and wine getaway (presumably a cooler place to hang out than Phoenix come summer). The story describes New Mexico’s largest city as “a patchwork of unpredictability,” where a “diverse culture, dynamic cuisine and a surprisingly vibrant viticultural scene weave together to create an eclectic tapestry where tradition and nuance can comfortably come together” and offers the following advice: “Be prepared for pleasant plot twists aplenty.” More specifically, the story lays out Albuquerque in three “acts,” roughly: culture, wine and food. Act 2, wine, recommends several wineries worth visiting, including the Gruet Winery, Casa Rondeña, Milagro Vineyards & Winery and Noisy Water Winery. As for the plot twist: Turns out Middle Rio Grande Valley wine region is one of three American Viticultural Area-approved regions in New Mexico. No, we did not know this either, but we looked it up. The Mimbres Valley is another, as is the Mesilla Valley, which also includes Texas.
Red flag warning
Another red flag warning day today in Santa Fe, according to the National Weather Service, which forecasts sunny skies with a high near 80 degrees and southeast wind five to 10 mph becoming southwest 20 to 30 mph, with winds potentially gusting as high as 45 mph. Statewide, eastern New Mexico could see some severe storms.