Hot Links: SRP Fire, Rancher Killed, and Cocaine Trafficking

A huge fire early this morning at a Salt River Project substation sent a big smoke plume several miles to the west. The burning transformer, at the SRP substation near 121st Avenue and Broadway Road, hasn't caused any reported power outages so far. A dozen firefighters battled the blaze through the night, but the transformer could burn for days... The North and South Mountain visitor centers in the Sonoran Desert are closing April 5. The centers offered educational programming on the desert's fauna and wildlife. Officials for the city of Phoenix say they can't afford to run the centers anymore, and they're hoping a public or private entity will step up to help sustain the centers...Robert Krentz, a prominent rancher in Douglas, was found shot to death on his land Saturday. A spokesman for the Cochise County Sheriff's Office said an investigation is under way but would not provide details of the killing or say if there were any suspects...

Friends and strangers have raised $10,000 for the families of four bikers killed last week when a dump truck ran them over at a red light near the Carefree Highway. On Saturday, thousands made the ride the bikers didn't finish, with riders coming from as far as Las Vegas. One surviving rider from the dump truck accident, Phoenix Fire Department Captain Ernie Lizarraga, remains hospitalized in critical condition, and three others are in serious condition...Phoenix's Alfonso Martinez-Hernandez has pleaded guilty to cocaine trafficking. He was arrested last May 29, after delivering cocaine to undercover federal agents at a Phoenix hotel. Martinez-Hernandez faces at least a 20-year prison sentence...A Peoria police officer, fired for allegedly threatening his wife, is appealing his termination. Sergeant Tim Smith, 51, was let go after using a city-issued phone to reportedly threaten his wife's life, and according to an internal investigation report, Smith said he was too drunk to remember what he said or texted to his spouse. Smith's administrative hearing is set for April 28 and 29.

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea