- - Sunday, June 5, 2011


Wildfires threaten small vacation town

GREER — A 225-square-mile blaze that has grown into the third-largest fire in Arizona’s history covered a mountain vacation town in a smoky fog Sunday, as wind blew smoke from the burning pine forest well into nearby New Mexico and Colorado.

Crews have not contained the fire near the New Mexico-Arizona state line, which has forced residents to evacuate from several mountain towns.

In the vacation town of Greer, which has fewer than 200 year-round residents, many voluntarily left Saturday. Those who remained, mostly business owners, dealt with haze heavily tinged with smoke on Sunday.

Among them was the owner of the 101-year-old Molly Butler Lodge, who was hauling out his most valuable items. Allan Johnson spent the morning getting antiques, including an 1886 table brought by covered wagon from Utah and a 1928 Oldsmobile the lodge uses for weddings, out of the fire’s path.

Greer is within miles of the fire, which officials expect will grow given a windy forecast and expected dry lightning Sunday and Monday.


Former Black Panther leader dies outside U.S.

LOS ANGELES — Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt, a former Black Panther Party leader who spent 27 years in prison on a California murder conviction that was later overturned, has died at the age of 63 in his adopted home of Tanzania.

Mr. Pratt died early Friday at home in Imbaseni village, 15 miles from Arusha, Tanzania, where he had lived for at least half a decade, said a friend in Arusha, former Black Panther Pete O’Neal.

Mr. Pratt’s name and his long-fought case with its political backdrop became emblematic of a tumultuous era in American history when the beret-wearing Panthers raised their fists in defiance and carried big guns, striking fear in white America.

The party, founded by Huey Newton in Oakland, Calif., in 1966, was targeted by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover in a program that sent infiltrators into their gatherings and recruited informants. One of them, Julius Butler, was the key witness against Mr. Pratt when he was charged in 1968 with the Santa Monica tennis court shooting of schoolteacher Caroline Olson.

Mr. Pratt said he was innocent and maintained there were audiotapes that would prove he had been at a Black Panther meeting in Oakland the day of the killing. His lawyers later said that FBI agents and police hid and possibly destroyed wiretap evidence.


Story Continues →