In brief: Fire rips through southern Colorado
WETMORE, Colo. – A wildfire that forced the evacuation of hundreds of people in and around a small southern Colorado town has damaged at least 14 homes, authorities said Wednesday.
The 3 1/4-square-mile fire was burning near Wetmore, an unincorporated town in Custer County about 100 miles south of Denver.
About 380 people were evacuated after the fire broke out Tuesday and quickly grew in winds gusting up to 79 mph. The fire continued to spread through the night, forcing authorities to go door-to-door to evacuate seven more homes in neighboring Pueblo County.
Meanwhile, a new blaze that broke out from a trash burn on private land in southwest Colorado prompted evacuations of about 30 homes Wednesday in Montezuma County. Winds pushed that fire across 386 acres and prevented planes and helicopters from dropping any water or retardant on the fire, sheriff’s Lt. Ted Meador said.
A cold front was moving in that could bring snow or rain to the fire, raising some hope that Colorado’s protracted fire season could be nearing an end.
China looks to reduce coal reliance
BEIJING – China has announced it is ready to approve new nuclear power plants as part of ambitious plans to reduce reliance on oil and coal, ending a moratorium imposed after Japan’s Fukushima disaster.
The government said Wednesday that it hopes to generate 30 percent of China’s power from solar, wind and other renewable as well as nuclear energy sources by the end of 2015. That’s up from an earlier target of 15 percent from renewables plus 5 percent from nuclear by 2020.
The Communist government is aggressively promoting wind, solar, hydro and other alternative energy sources to curb surging reliance on imported oil, which it sees as a national security risk.
Surfer killed by great white shark
LOS ANGELES – An expert has determined that a surfer was killed off California’s Central Coast by a 15- to 16-foot great white shark.
Ralph Collier of the Shark Research Committee examined the body of 39-year-old Francisco Javier Solorio Jr. of Orcutt before making the determination Wednesday.
The surfer was bitten in the upper torso in the waters off Surf Beach in Santa Barbara County on Tuesday. He died at the scene despite a friend’s efforts to save him.
Surf Beach is at Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles. It was also the site of an October 2010 fatal attack.
All beaches on the base coastline were closed for at least 72 hours as a precaution.
Chinese activist gets human rights award
NEW YORK – A blind Chinese lawyer and activist whose escape from house arrest to the U.S. embassy in Beijing sparked a diplomatic crisis has been honored by a human rights group in New York.
Human Rights First gave its 2012 Human Rights Award to Chen Guangcheng at its annual gala on Wednesday. The award was presented by actor Christian Bale, who had tried to meet the activist in China in December but was turned away by officials.
Chen’s escape earlier this year to the U.S. embassy set off a spat between the United States and China before he was allowed to leave the country with his family.
Chen had documented forced abortions and other abuses by local authorities. He’s now studying law at New York University.