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Forest Service 

Screenshots of a recently released video captured by a witness of an April 23, 2017, explosion at a gender-reveal party that sparked an Arizona wildfire is seen in this courtesy photo.

Emergency responders rescue injured man near Auger Falls Heritage Park

TWIN FALLS — Emergency responders rescued a hiker who broke his leg Nov. 26 near Auger Falls Heritage Park.

A call came in at 10:59 a.m. about a man hiking near the park, said Lori Stewart, spokeswoman for the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office.

A rock had come loose and struck the man’s shin, breaking his leg. A nearby hiker saw the man and called 911.

Twin Falls County Search and Rescue, Twin Falls Fire Department and Magic Valley Paramedics’ Special Operations Rescue Team responded. They cleared the scene around 2:40 p.m.

Responders decided the best way to rescue the man was to lower ropes down from Meander Point and pull him up, Stewart said. The man was then taken by ground ambulance to St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center.

PHOTOS: Hiker rescued in Snake River Canyon


Search and rescue haul an injured hiker up the canyon wall and to safety Monday, Nov. 26, 2018, west of Twin Falls.

'Flawless': NASA craft lands on Mars after perilous journey

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A NASA spacecraft designed to drill down into Mars’ interior landed on the planet Monday after a perilous, supersonic plunge through its red skies, setting off jubilation among scientists who waited in white-knuckle suspense for confirmation to arrive across 100 million miles of space.

Flight controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, leaped out of their chairs, screaming, dancing and hugging, upon learning that InSight safely arrived on Mars, the graveyard for a multitude of previous missions.

“Touchdown confirmed!” a flight controller called out just before 3 p.m. EST, instantly dispelling the anxiety that gripped the control room as the spacecraft made its six-minute descent.

Because of the distance between Earth and Mars, it took eight minutes for confirmation to arrive, relayed by a pair of tiny satellites that trailed InSight throughout the six-month, 300-million-mile journey.

The two experimental satellites not only transmitted the good news in almost real time, they also sent back InSight’s first snapshot of Mars just 4½ minutes after landing.

The picture was speckled with debris because the dust cover was still on the lander’s camera, but the terrain at first glance looked smooth and sandy with just one sizable rock visible — pretty much what scientists had hoped for. Better photos are expected in the days ahead.

It was NASA’s — indeed, humanity’s — eighth successful landing at Mars since the 1976 Viking probes, and the first in six years. NASA’s Curiosity rover, which arrived in 2012, is still on the move on Mars.

“Flawless,” declared JPL’s chief engineer, Rob Manning. “This is what we really hoped and imagined in our mind’s eye,” he added. “Sometimes things work out in your favor.”

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, presiding over his first Mars landing as the space agency’s boss, said: “What an amazing day for our country.”

Many Mars-bound spacecraft launched by the U.S., Russia and other spacefaring countries were lost or destroyed over the years, with a success rate of just 40 percent, not counting InSight.

NASA went with its old, straightforward approach this time, using a parachute and braking engines to get InSight’s speed from 12,300 mph when it pierced the Martian atmosphere, about 77 miles up, to 5 mph at touchdown. The danger was that the spacecraft could burn up in the atmosphere or bounce off it.

The three-legged InSight settled on the western side of Elysium Planitia, the plain that NASA was aiming for. Project manager Tom Hoffman said the spacecraft landed close to the bull’s-eye, but NASA did not have yet have the final calculations.

He said that it was hard to tell from the first photo whether there were any slopes nearby, but that it appeared he got the flat, smooth “parking lot” he was hoping for.

Museums, planetariums and libraries across the U.S. held viewing parties to watch the events unfold at JPL. NASA TV coverage also was shown on the giant screen in New York’s Times Square, where crowds huddled under umbrellas in the rain.

The $1 billion international mission features a German-led mechanical mole that will burrow 16 feet to measure the planet’s internal heat. Nothing has ever dug deeper into Mars than several inches. The lander also has a French-made seismometer for measuring quakes, if they exist on our smaller, geologically calmer neighbor.

Another experiment will calculate Mars’ wobble to reveal the makeup of the planet’s core.

The 800-pound InSight is stationary and will operate from the same spot for the next two years, the duration of a Martian year. Its first job was to get a fast picture out. Seven hours after touchdown, NASA reported that InSight’s vital solar panels were open and recharging its batteries.

Lead scientist Bruce Banerdt warned it will be a slow-motion mission. The instruments will have to be set up and fine-tuned. He said he doesn’t expect to start getting a stream of solid data until late next spring, and it could take the entire mission to really get the goods.

“It really depends on how benevolent Mars is feeling, how many marsquakes it throws at us,” Banerdt said Sunday. “The more marsquakes, the better. We just love that shaking, and so the more shaking it does, the better we can see the inside.”

Mars’ well-preserved interior provides a snapshot of what Earth might have looked like after its formation 4.5 billion years ago, according to Banerdt. While Earth is active seismically, Mars “decided to rest on its laurels” after it formed, he said.

By examining and mapping the interior of Mars, scientists hope to learn why the rocky planets in our solar system turned out so different and why Earth became a haven for life.

Still, there are no life detectors aboard InSight. That will be part of NASA’s next mission, the Mars 2020 rover, which will prowl for rocks that might contain evidence of ancient life. The question of whether life ever existed in Mars’ wet, watery past is what keeps driving NASA back to the fourth rock from the sun.

If you do one thing

If you do one thing: A community dance will feature music by the Shadows Band from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Snake River Elks Lodge, 412 E. 200 S., Jerome. Admission is $5.

UPDATE: Resident OK but 2 dogs die in RV fire in Jerome

JEROME — A man lost his dogs when the motor home he lived in was destroyed by fire on the west side of town.

When the Jerome City Fire Department reached the 800 block of West Avenue B — south of Valley Co-op — late morning of Nov. 26, they found an older recreational vehicle fully engulfed in flames, Chief Jeremy Presnell said.

A neighbor spotted the fire at about 11:10 a.m., alerted the resident of the RV and called 911, Presnell said.

“The man’s two dogs didn’t make it,” he said.

Responders first thought an explosion they heard in the fire was a propane tank blowing up, but the chief said the noise was ammunition exploding in the RV.

The American Red Cross will temporarily help the man, who was uninjured and lived alone, Presnell said.

Firefighters recovered $1,200 in cash that the man had stashed in a soup can, he said.

Magic Valley Paramedics also responded and the Shoshone Rural Fire Department assisted. No cause has been identified, the chief said.


Boise State running back Alexander Mattison (22) tries to push through for another yard Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018, at Albertsons Stadium in Boise.

Twin Falls man sentenced for setting house on fire, fleeing police

TWIN FALLS — A local man who set a house on fire and fled the scene while laboring under psychological delusions will serve at least four years in prison, a judge determined an emotional sentencing hearing.

Charges against 57-year-old Lamont DeWitt stemmed from an incident in January 2016, when DeWitt threw something at a house that started a fire before leading police on a car chase through Twin Falls. Police later found several bottles of flammable liquid in DeWitt’s car.

The fire was put out quickly and with no injuries. But the events of that night have caused lasting psychological damage, one of the victims told the court Monday.

“I feel like if he doesn’t go to prison...I’ll look in every shadow,” she said. “I’ll be looking out the window. Because I didn’t have any warning.”

DeWitt pleaded guilty in August to one count of first-degree arson and one count of fleeing or attempting to elude an officer in a motor vehicle. He will serve a minimum of four years to a maximum 12 years in prison for the charges, Judge Thomas Ryan decided Monday.

“This is the kind of case that a judge always hates to address because there really is no right answer,” Ryan said.

The victim described DeWitt’s actions as a “hate crime” because the family living in the house DeWitt set on fire were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The family was hosting about a dozen missionaries the night of the fire.

DeWitt, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was under psychological delusions involving the church at the time and appeared to believe former church president Thomas Monson lived in the neighborhood, attorneys said Monday. DeWitt was previously seen in the neighborhood and had had brushes with security at the Twin Falls temple.

The defense argued that because DeWitt no longer has these delusions and has become more stable since taking anti-psychotic drugs, he shouldn’t be punished as harshly as someone who committed a similar crime while in their right mind.

Meanwhile, the prosecution cited concerns about public safety if DeWitt’s mental health were to take a turn for the worse and argued that he would be able to receive more effective mental health treatment if incarcerated.

In a statement to the court, DeWitt said he wanted his victims to know he felt “terrible” about the events of the night.

“I just hope that they can put their lives back together and have a life where they’re not living in fear,” DeWitt said.