KNAU/Melissa Sevigny

Wildland firefighters use every strategy they can to stop forest fires from causing catastrophic destruction. Increasingly, crews across the country are relying on high-tech equipment, like infrared cameras, iPads and satellite imagery. But, machines can't replace humans completely. In this 2-part story, we hear from some of the people who choreograph fighting a fire. 

Last year, a French couple died while trying to make sure their 9-year-old son had enough water on a broiling summertime outing at a New Mexico national park.

This past weekend, two Germans visiting Arizona for a conference died after taking a hike in perilous, record-breaking heat.

The U.S. Southwest has seen its share of heat-related visitor deaths.

Amid another staggering heatwave, local governments and businesses in the region are increasing their efforts to alert tourists when summer rolls in and safe outdoor conditions roll out.

Arizona Department of Economic Security officials say a state lawmaker has been indicted on felony fraud and other charges for lying on her application for food stamps.

The charges of fraud, theft and unlawful use of food stamps against Rep. Cecilia Velasquez were announced Wednesday by DES Director Tim Jeffries.

The indictment issued by the state grand jury was unsealed Monday. Velasquez is set to appear in court on July 5.

The 42-year-old Litchfield Park Democrat didn't immediately return calls to her cellphone seeking comment.

Firefighters are working to secure the eastern flank of a wildfire that still threatens some communities in eastern Arizona.

Officials said Wednesday the fire that began in June 15 has burned almost 67 square miles – or more than 42,802 acres – and remains 24 percent contained.

The blaze is about 2 ½ miles north of Cedar Creek where 300 people live.

More than 15,000 people in Pinetop-Lakeside and Show Low, along with others in the surrounding communities, remain under pre-evacuation notice.


The arid Southwest is ideal for preserving plant and animal remains. It's a living laboratory for scientists. At the Ancient DNA Lab at Northern Arizona University, wildlife geneticist Faith Walker is using tiny pieces of mummified biological material to learn more about life on Earth thousands of years ago.