In the Nation

Posted: May 31, 2012

Wildfires raging across wide areas

DENVER - Driven by high winds, brittle conditions and lightning strikes, wildfires raged across swaths of the Southwest and the Midwest on Wednesday, the latest rash of blazes in what has already been an especially volatile fire season.

In southwestern New Mexico, more than 1,200 firefighters were battling a large fire in the Gila National Forest that was sparked by a pair of lightning strikes and has since burned 170,272 acres.

Fire officials said Wednesday that the fire, named the Whitewater-Baldy Complex blaze, was still burning unchecked and was now the largest in state history. The previous record was set last year, when the Las Conchas fire burned more than 150,000 acres near Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Firefighters made better progress with blazes farther north. About 2,000 miles away, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the third-largest fire in that state's history has burned more than 21,000 acres since a May 23 lightning strike. Recent rains are aiding firefighting efforts, and the blaze is 55 percent contained, said Ada Takacs, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. - N.Y. Times News Service

Alaskans warned over angry moose

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Alaska wildlife biologists are warning about the dangers of moose calving season after several people were injured in the last week by protective cows, including a 6-year-old girl who was stomped by one in her backyard until her father scared it off with a log and a baseball bat.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Jessy Coltrane said cow moose are giving birth now, and people need to be extra careful in and near the woods.

"Cows are dropping calves all over town right now," Coltrane said. "Those cows are so defensive of their little babies. They will literally stand there on the edge of the woods watching you, and if you take one step into their personal bubble, they'll come out hooves flying."

The warning comes after Chloe Metzger suffered a broken clavicle and injuries to her back Monday outside her Eagle River home. Over the weekend, a moose charged and injured at least two mountain bikers on trails at a south Anchorage park. - AP

Man shoots self after cafe killings

SEATTLE - A gunman who opened fire at a Seattle cafe Wednesday, killing three people, critically wounding two others and setting off a citywide manhunt, apparently shot himself as officers closed in on him, authorities said. He was listed in critical condition at a local hospital.

Police searching for the suspect also had to respond to another fatal shooting near the city's downtown. They said that a man killed a woman in an apparent carjacking and fled in a black SUV.

Gunfire erupted late Wednesday morning at Cafe Racer, a restaurant and music venue north of the University of Washington. Authorities said late Wednesday that they believe one man was responsible for both attacks. "At this time, we feel pretty confident that we have the suspect in both cases," said Assistant Seattle Police Chief Nick Metz. - AP

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