Utah Fire Nearly Contained

SALT LAKE CITY -- Fire crews on Saturday quelled a 17,000-acre fire that had threatened a town in southwestern Utah while authorities lifted evacuation orders in a nearby community that had been nearly surrounded by a separate blaze.

Bulldozers plowed a line around the flames threatening Veyo, and firefighters were inching toward containment of the fire, touched off last week by lightning.

Elsewhere, authorities lifted evacuation orders in nearby Gunlock, where about 84 of the 130 residents left their homes Friday night.

Firefighters were also watching the sky closely. The National Weather Service issued a thunderstorm and flash-flood watch for all of southwestern Utah on Saturday, including the fire-ravaged deserts.

In Colorado, a fast-moving grass fire was stopped late Friday near Golden after roaring to within 50 feet of several homes. On Saturday, firefighters monitored remaining hot spots while temperatures soared toward 100 degrees. Authorities said fireworks likely started the fire.

Whale Deaths Unreported

BOSTON -- More than eight in 10 right whale deaths may be going undiscovered, according to marine scientists who called for emergency action to help prevent humans from accidentally killing the rare animal.

In an article published in the journal Science, researchers estimated that deaths of North Atlantic right whales may be underreported by as much as 83 percent annually. At least eight whales have died in the past 16 months, and only 350 of the animals are believed to exist.

The estimate of unreported whale deaths is based on a population model that considers the known death rates of male, female and juvenile right whales. Scientists do not presume a whale dead until it has not been seen for six years.

The Science article, citing the Endangered Species Act, called for emergency rules to protect against ship strikes and fishing gear entanglements, the two primary ways that humans kill right whales.

* MIAMI -- Tropical Storm Franklin strengthened as it spun away from the Bahamas and moved farther east in the Atlantic, but blasts of warm air from its core were forecast to bring extreme heat to the Florida peninsula. Heat index readings along Florida's Atlantic coast could exceed 110 degrees over the weekend. Meanwhile, a tropical wave was bringing heavy rain to parts of the Yucatan Peninsula and Honduras, Belize and Guatemala on Saturday. Winds of nearly 35 mph were measured in some areas, just shy of the 39-mph threshold for tropical-storm status.

* LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- Hundreds of demonstrators marched to protest a civilian border patrol group, calling the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps racist and un-American. The League of United Latin American Citizens organized the march and rally to show that Minuteman volunteers, who have denied claims of racism, were not wanted in the area. "It's a racist organization, there is no question," said the league's national treasurer, Jaime Martinez. "They say they will monitor the border, but now they are coming into our cities. Something has to be done."

-- From News Services