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In brief: State’s biggest-ever fire still spreading

Reserve, N.M. – A massive wildfire in the New Mexico wilderness that already is the largest in state history spread in all directions Thursday.

The erratic Gila National Forest blaze grew overnight to more than 190,000 acres, or nearly 300 square miles, as it raced across the area’s steep, ponderosa pine-covered hills and through its rugged canyons.

Gov. Susana Martinez viewed the fire from a New Mexico National Guard helicopter Thursday and saw the thick smoke among some of the steep canyons that are inaccessible to firefighters.

“It seems daunting to us because it’s now 190,000 acres,” she told reporters. “It’s going to keep going up. Be prepared for that.”

Oil pipeline builder offers new proposal

Houston – A Canadian company seeking to build a pipeline to transport crude oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries has submitted a new application for the southern segment of the project that avoids sensitive wetlands in Texas.

TransCanada submitted its new application in April, after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency raised concerns about the effect the original plan would have on wetlands along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Under the new plan, the company will drill under the wetlands rather than run across them, eliminating the need for EPA involvement, said Vicki Dixon, regulatory program manager for the southwestern division of the Army Corps of Engineers.

This permit is for the southern portion of a pipeline – the Gulf Coast Project – that will eventually meet up with the larger Keystone XL pipeline that will run from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast. The pipeline is primarily designed to transport crude oil from Canada’s tar sands region to refineries in Texas. When it’s complete, it will be able to move 1.4 million barrels of crude oil a day.


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Zimbabwe leader calls assassination attempt ‘cowardly act’

UPDATED: 8:14 p.m.

Zimbabwe’s president was unscathed Saturday by an explosion at a campaign rally that state media called an attempt to assassinate him, later visiting his two injured vice presidents and declaring the “cowardly act” will not disrupt next month’s historic elections.