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600-acre fire burning on southern Arizona ranch

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (AP) - Fire officials say a lightning-caused blaze hasn't threatened any structures but charred an estimated 600 acres on a large ranch in southeastern Arizona.

Sonoita-Elgin Fire District Battalion Chief Kevin Venos says the O'Donnell Fire doubled in size Saturday evening when the wind shifted during a burnout operation in O'Donnell Canyon. He says the active fire is chewing through heavy sacaton on the Babacomari Ranch, halfway between Sonoita and Sierra Vista, but no buildings are at risk.

Venos says the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, state Forestry Division and the fire district are on scene. Three air tankers and 100 personnel are fighting the fire.

It's burning in a lightning-prone area north of the Huachuca (wah-CHOO'kuh') Mountains. Crews battling the Brown Fire in that mountain range came to help.


Crews gaining control of blaze in southern Arizona

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (AP) - Firefighters have gotten a stronger hold on a wildfire burning near Sierra Vista in southeastern Arizona, allowing some crews to be released from duty.

Fire managers report that the 240-acre Brown Fire in the Huachuca (wah-CHOO'kuh') Mountains now is 75 percent contained.

The blaze began April 13 and is burning in brush and timber in steep and rugged terrain, mostly on the Fort Huachuca Army base and in the Coronado National Forest.

No structures currently are threatened.

Crews are spending Saturday doing preventive measures outside the fire area in case a direct attack doesn't work.

The Cochise County Sheriff's Office says Ramsey Canyon Preserve has reopened but only the canyon bottom is accessible.

Authorities say of the 400 personnel assigned, four Hotshot crews have already been released.


Replica of 'Pieta' sculpture draws Easter visitors

PHOENIX (AP) - The spirit of Michelangelo's "Pieta" sculpture is being felt this Easter weekend thousands of miles away from Vatican City - outside a Phoenix charity's dining hall.

St. Vincent de Paul executive director Steve Zabilski says he expects more people than usual to sit before a replica of one of the Italian artist's most famous works.

Zabilski says about 20 people gathered at one point on Good Friday in the 50-seat chapel.

The statue has been a fixture at St. Vincent de Paul in downtown Phoenix since January 2013.

Zabilski says the sculpture depicting Mary holding the body of Christ moves visitors. People often go up to kiss or touch the statue as well as leave prayer books, flowers or coins on it.


Suspects in Phoenix area pharmacy robberies sought

PHOENIX (AP) - Phoenix police are looking for two men suspected of robbing nearly a dozen Phoenix area pharmacies at gunpoint since last summer.

Police say the men are accused of walking into 11 pharmacies and threatening a pharmacist with a handgun to get oxycodone.

They say the robberies have occurred since July with the most recent on April 5.

The robbers appear to target independently owned pharmacies and have hit stores in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Tempe and Surprise.

In their most recent attempt, they went into Quick Pharmacy near 43rd Avenue and Northern Avenue but fled upon seeing an armed employee.

Police describe one suspect as Hispanic and in his mid-20s to 30 years old.

They say the other is black and around the same age.


Brothers arrested in fatal Phoenix bar shooting

PHOENIX (AP) - Phoenix police say the brother of a suspect in the shooting of an off-duty security guard at a Phoenix bar last month has also been arrested.

Police say 22-year-old Max Flores was arrested last week on a murder charge.

Authorities say 33-year-old Jesus Rafael Lozano-Vidal died March 14 after being shot several times by a man after a closing-time altercation.

Lozano-Vidal was visiting the Mi Ranchito Dancing bar in central Phoenix where he works as a security guard.

The shooting occurred after closing when the victim told a man he couldn't leave with a bottle of beer.

Police believe 21-year-old Alex Ray Flores was the shooter and he faces several charges, including first-degree murder.

They say Max Flores is being charged with committing a felony in which someone was killed.


Flagstaff homeless shelter gets last-minute save

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - A Flagstaff homeless shelter that closed its nighttime services for the season has gotten a last-minute reprieve.

The Arizona Daily Sun reports that an anonymous donation made last week is enough to keep Flagstaff Shelter Services fully operational through the end of July.

Shelter executive director Lori Barlow says the donor, a Flagstaff homeowner, asked how much it would take to keep the shelter open through Arizona's wildfire season.

Barlow declined to say how much the donation was but she says staffing and running the shelter's overnight services cost about $14,000 a month.

Closing at night each spring is a budget reality for the shelter.

City officials were also concerned by the closure, fearing some homeless would start campfires to stay warm despite fire restrictions.


Navajo Nation Council to gather for spring session

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) -Monday marks the start of the Navajo Nation Council's spring session.

Lawmakers meet quarterly for weeklong sessions in Window Rock.

The first day generally is reserved for hearing reports from the tribal president, Tribal Council speaker and other officials.

Among the agenda items are two measures that would override presidential vetoes of a junk food tax and an elimination of sales tax on fresh fruits and vegetables.

Lawmakers also will vote on a bill to appoint a chief legal counsel for the legislative branch.

LoRenzo Bates will preside over the session. He's filling in for Johnny Naize, who is facing bribery and conspiracy charges and recently was placed on administrative leave by his colleagues.

Naize says he's done nothing wrong and is challenging the lawmakers' action in tribal court.

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