Morning Word

Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Becomes Largest Fire In NM History

Plus: NM removes mask mandate in prisons, Rust producer hopes to finish filming some day and jury deliberations start in Montoya murder trial

Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon becomes largest fire in NM history

The Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire became the largest in New Mexico’s history yesterday as it passed the record Whitewater/Baldy Complex fire set in 2012 when it burned 297,845 acres near Silver City. As of this morning, Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon measured 299,565 acres with 26% containment. Most of the movement Monday continued to the north and south, officials said at last night’s briefing, and South Zone Operations Section Chief Ken Watkins said firefighters had made “good progress” on a containment line in the Santa Fe National Forest to curtail the fire’s movement toward the Pecos River Valley, where rain fell Monday for about 25 minutes. With Taos communities now under various evacuation statuses, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe urged residents to be ready, and to contact his office if they had elders or others needing assistance. “We are all one family,” Hogrefe said. “We will not leave anybody behind, but we have to know where to go.” Fire analyst Stewart Turner said today will likely bring some burning in the interior portions of the fire but, overall, he expected today would be a “moderate burn” day without “big growth…it should be a good work day for the crews to make some good progress out there.” Fire officials also reported progress yesterday on the Cerro Pelado Fire in the Jemez Mountains, which, as of yesterday, had gained just 2 acres and experienced minimal fire growth; the fire is now at 45,605 acres and 62% containment.

Gov appoints new Homeland Security secretary

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham yesterday announced the appointment of David Dye as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. According to a news release, Dye most recently worked for Santa Fe County’s Emergency Management office, where he “crafted” the county’s new emergency operations plan and led a large-scale wildfire exercise. He also served as a Navy director of training in Florida, leading the Navy’s response for Hurricanes Dorian and Isaias in 2019 and 2020. “David is coming into his new role at a critical time for our state, as wildfires continue to burn and New Mexicans are displaced,” the governor said in a statement. “He brings with him an incredible wealth of experience, and David is a proven leader who has all the tools necessary to prepare and respond to any emergency our state may face.” Dye starts today and said in a statement he is ready “to hit the ground running to take the lead on the incredible work the state has been doing throughout the wildfire events.”

Deliberations begin in Montoya murder trial

Estevan Montoya stuck to his story yesterday, as he testified in the final hours of his murder trial for the shooting death of Fedonta “JB” White at a party in August of 2020. Montoya claims he was running away from White and, fearing for his safety, shot him once with a .380 caliber pistol. “The only option I had was the gun,” Montoya, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, said. Prosecutors have charged him as an adult with first-degree murder. In his closing argument yesterday, defense attorney Dan Marlowe disputed the shooting was either willful or reckless. Rather, he said, Montoya was suffering from PTSD after witnessing the death of his close friend weeks prior and didn’t mean to kill White, but was reacting to being chased by someone much larger than him. District Judge T. Glenn Ellington, however, denied a motion from Montoya’s attorneys to instruct the jury to consider self-defense in their deliberations and said “there is no reasonable basis for the type of fear that Mr. Montoya claims to have had that necessitated him responding to one or two missed blows with deadly force and killing Mr. White.” Jury deliberations continue today.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported May 14:

New cases: 1,028 (numbers include the weekend and are approximately 45% higher than last Monday’s three-day total); 527,162 total cases

Deaths: 16; At last count, Santa Fe County had 288 total deaths; there have been 7,623 total fatalities statewide. Hospitalizations: 61; Patients on ventilators: eightPHO renewed: The state health department yesterday renewed the public health order, keeping in place mask requirements for hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term care settings, but removing the requirement from state correctional and juvenile justice facilities. A DOH spokesperson said the change was made in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance made earlier this month; SFR has outstanding questions with DOH regarding both that change and the increase in COVID-19 cases reported above.

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.

Listen up

Hot on the heels of The Life Link’s May 6 mental health festival, and in continued acknowledgement of Mental Health Awareness Month, The Life Link’s CEO Dr. Michael DeBernardi talks with To Your Health host Elizabeth Carovillano on the show’s most recent episode about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and “how gaining control of one’s thoughts and beliefs is a key to better mental and emotional health.” DeBernardi also discusses how he got started in his 30-year career in behavioral health.

An artist in Taos

The London-based Financial Times interviews Larry Bell, an artist who has lived in Taos since 1973 but remains primarily associated, the story notes, with the 1960s Light and Space movement in California. Though Bell has worked in a variety of mediums, glass remains at the core of his practice, and the shelves in his Taos studio “hold boxes of bevelled glass squares and triangles, seemingly in every colour under the sun; on wide tables, Bell, 82, experiments by fixing panels together into cubes and corners, cubes within cubes and open-topped boxes.” Writer Jonathan Griffin likens Bell and other Light and Space artists to latter day Impressionists and says Bell’s work “manages to be neither reductive nor heady nor impersonal, but endlessly open, surprising and delightful.” The artist says color has begun to dominate his sculptures in the last five years, perhaps, because of his early work as a painter, though he hasn’t painted in years. Nonetheless, “he strives to keep his sculptural practice, he says, ‘as fluid as a paintbrush and a palette.’” He remains devoted to spontaneity in his practice, telling Griffin: “Art is a teacher, it’s not an object.”

Rust producer “hopes” filming resumes after investigation

Rust producer Anjul Nigam made statements this week regarding the resumption of filming following the investigation into the Oct. 21 shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “We’re confident we’ll be able to complete the movie,” Nigam initially told THR. Following publication of his statement, however, he told THR: My statement that I was confident the film could be completed was just my optimism, and not an actual plan. Many of those who were involved hope to honor Halyna by completing her last work, but at this point it is just hope.” Both Nigam and fellow Rust producer Alec Baldwin—who ostensibly fired the gun that killed Hutchins but has denied culpability—are bringing the film False Awakening, in which Baldwin will star, to Cannes as part of an effort to launch their new production “banner,” Persona Entertainment. “Rust is obviously a horrific tragedy,” Nigam told THR. “The investigation will hopefully be resolved soon and will unveil what happened. Obviously, there will be people out there who will have negative perspectives, but we’re confident about continuing to make quality movies.”

Hot and sunny

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day in Santa Fe today, with a high near 84 degrees and east wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west 15 to 20 mph in the morning.

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