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Fire biggest in New Mexico history

Human Race: More than 2,000 workers battle fires


Firefighters in New Mexico clear brush and debris away from cabins along Highway 518. Jim Weber/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP

Fire biggest in New Mexico history
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Monster blaze

Firefighters struggled to contain the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire, which had burned 299,565 acres and 260 homes and was 26 percent contained as of May 17. More than 3,800 homes in northern New Mexico were under mandatory evacuation orders. Two separate fires merged on April 23. Hermits Peak started on April 6 in the Pecos Wilderness after embers from a controlled burn escaped containment and sparked small fires. The cause of the Calf Canyon fire, which started on April 19 north of Las Vegas, N.M., is still under investigation. Thunderstorms on May 16 dropped some rain on the region, allowing the 2,000 firefighters to drop more fire retardant from helicopters. But meteorologists expect the favorable conditions to change as unpredictable winds intensified.

Liberty settles

A notice of dismissal was filed in the case of 12 women who alleged that Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., mishandled sexual assault cases. The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed. The former students and employees’ allegations span more than two decades. They claimed that Liberty’s strict honor code made it difficult or impossible for students to report sexual violence and any investigations were weighted in favor of men and retaliated against women. In a statement, Liberty said it spent over $8.5 million on campus security upgrades, improved mental health services, and is updating its policies.

Racist gunman

A gunman wearing tactical gear and body armor opened fire in a Tops Friendly Market on May 14, killing 10 black people before surrendering to police. Officials called the mass shooting in a predominantly black neighborhood of Buffalo, N.Y., an act of “racially motivated violent extremism.” Police identified the suspect as Payton Gendron, 18, from a town about 200 miles southeast of Buffalo. Eleven of the shooting victims were black, and two were white. Last year, state police took Gendron to a hospital for a mental health evaluation after he made a threat against his school. He was released after a day and a half and not charged with any crimes.

Shariah lynching

On May 12 a mob of students murdered Deborah Samuel, a second-year student at a public college in Nigeria’s Sokoto state, after accusing her of blaspheming the prophet Muhammad. The school’s security officers tried to shelter her, but the mob dragged her out and beat her with planks before dumping tires on her and setting her ablaze. On a WhatsApp group shared with other students, Samuel had sent a voice note criticizing an earlier pro-Islamic message. She asked her schoolmates instead to share posts about their tests and assignments, but members of the group accused her of making derogatory comments. Authorities shut down the school, the Shehu Shagari College of Education, and they detained two suspects and launched an investigation.

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