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Last updated 6:34AM ET
August 18, 2018
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First News: Fire near Ruidoso claims about 3 dozen structures as it continues to grow. (listen)
(KSFR) - The 27,000 acre Little Bear wildfire burning near Ruidoso has claimed about three dozen structures thus far. The more than 600 firefighting personnel battling the 40 square mile blaze have yet to achieve any containment. Strong winds in the area Sunday kept aircraft grounded. Some 100 national guard troops are in the Ruidoso area to help with mass evacuations, if they become necessary. The governor also ordered two helicopters to the scene over the weekend. One would help with evacuations, the other would be on standby if air support of firefighters is needed. The Ruidoso village manager is asking residents to conserve on water so that more water is available to fight the fire. The entire White Mountain Wilderness of the Lincoln National Forest is closed. An earlier evacuation of Rancho Ruidoso has been lifted.
Meanwhile, the Gila region's Whitewater Baldy Complex Fire is said to be at 32% containment with acreage pegged at 278,000 acres.

An independent audit of the state's higher education department has resulted in a scathing report that notes substantial unbudgeted spending and weak internal controls. The audit finds that the department's actual spending was $30 million more than they had budgeted for. It also points out that higher education officials gave a contract to a company where a spouse of a top state employee has a substantial interest. Education department officials say some of the problems were inherited from the Richardson administration.

The Santa Fe County Board of Commissioners will hear public comments tomorrow on the Public Safety Department's resolution to proclaim extreme or severe drought conditions and thus ban the sale and use of some fireworks in unincorporated areas. Another matter on the agenda is allocating a quarter of a million dollars for the planning and studies needed for repurposing the county's current First Judicial Court Facility. There has been discussion of what to do with the building once the new courthouse on Montezuma opens at the end of this year. That meeting starts at 2PM Tuesday in County Commission Chambers downtown.

Santa Fe Public Schools conducts a number of meetings this week. At 4:30 today, an open gathering will finalize interview questions and procedures for the semifinalists vying to replace superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez. Tomorrow sees a meeting to look at school board policies. Wednesday gathers the Citizens Review Committee to discuss both current and proposed construction project updates.

Governor Martinez has proclaimed this "Monsoon Awareness Week." The National Weather Service and New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management will partner in a campaign to promote awareness of the life-threatening weather hazards that can occur during the Summer Monsoon that typically arrives about a month from now. Statistics indicate that significant weather events associated with the Monsoon are responsible for property damage, injuries and fatalities across the state every single year. In 2011, monsoon related events were responsible for at least three fatalities in New Mexico.

Weather for Santa Fe - a slight chance for isolated showers or thunderstorms today through Wednesday. Mostly sunny each day with highs in the low-to-mid 80s. A 10% chance for precipitation today, increasing to 20% tonight and Tuesday.
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