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In brief: Forest Service going after smaller fires

Amid tough conditions in the current fire season, the U.S. Forest Service is moving to more aggressively extinguish small fires before they become larger ones, an official said Wednesday.

The service has in the past allowed small fires to burn in isolated areas where there is no additional threat, viewing the blazes – which consume undergrowth and other fuel – as part of the normal cycle of natural fire management.

Now, the department will fight some of these smaller fires more forcefully, allowing the use of some mechanized equipment in the process. The individual decisions will be based on weather conditions, the amount of fuel load, the dryness of the area and whether there are nearby developments, agency spokesman Joe Walsh said.

Zimmerman trial not likely until 2013

Sanford, Fla. – George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who killed Trayvon Martin in Florida, will probably not face trial until early next year, his lawyers said.

The Zimmerman case was scheduled on Wednesday for a docket sounding, a pro forma court procedure in which the court is given an update on the progress in the proceedings. However, Judge Kenneth R. Lester on Tuesday granted a defense request to continue the matter – that is, push the docket sounding back – until Oct. 3.

“We filed our motion to continue because there is still a great deal of information to be gathered regarding this case, and we are in the early stages of preparing our reciprocal discovery – a process that can take a few months – and it is simply too early in the process to set firm trial dates,” defense lawyer Mark O’Mara said in an online posting.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Martin, an unarmed African-American teenager, in Sanford, Fla.


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