Wildfire threatens tourist region

A massive wildfire threatening a tourist region in southwestern Colorado has grown to nearly 60 square miles, but officials said Saturday that the erratic blaze had slowed and that they were optimistic that they could protect the town of South Fork.

The fire’s rapid advance prompted more than 400 evacuations Friday, and it could be days before people are allowed back into their houses, cabins and RV parks, fire crew spokeswoman Laura McConnell said. South Fork Mayor Kenneth Brooke estimated that as many as 1,500 of the town’s permanent residents and summer visitors were evacuated.

Some business owners were being allowed back into South Fork to prepare for the lifting of the evacuation order. McConnell said that no structures had been lost and that the fire was still about five miles from the town.

— Associated Press

Air show crash kills pilot, stunt walker

A plane crashed at an air show and exploded into flames Saturday, killing the pilot and a wing walker, authorities said.

The crash of the 450 HP Stearman occurred about 12:45 p.m. at the Vectren Air Show near Dayton and was witnessed by thousands of horrified spectators. No one else was hurt.

Federal records show that the biplane was registered to the wing walker, Jane Wicker, who lived in Loudoun County, Va. One of the pilots listed on Wicker’s Web site was named Charlie Schwenker. A post on Jane Wicker Airshows’ Facebook page announced the deaths of Wicker and Schwenker and asked for prayers for their families.

The show was canceled for the rest of the day, but organizers said events would resume Sunday. The National Transportation Safety Board said it is investigating the crash.

— Associated Press

Southwest resumes normal operations: Southwest Airlines was operating normally Saturday afternoon after a systemwide computer failure caused it to ground 250 flights over nearly three hours late Friday. A Southwest spokesman said the glitch impaired the airline’s ability to do check-ins, print boarding passes and monitor aircraft weight, among other tasks. Flights already in the air were unaffected, authorities said.

— From news services