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The majority of the workers have retired, resigned or moved to other assignments.

VIRGINIA

CENTREVILLE

Metal grinder sparked garage explosion

A house explosion Sunday was caused when a spark from a metal grinder ignited materials that may have been part of an illegal fireworks-manufacturing operation, authorities said yesterday.

Investigators seized 500 pounds of chemicals, powders and fertilizer that the occupant of the home said he used to make large pyrotechnic displays, said Capt. Chris Schaff, a spokesman for the Fairfax County fire department. About 200 pounds of finished fireworks also were found.

“The material in the home was in line with what he told us he was trying to do,” Capt. Schaff said, noting that no one could be licensed to make such materials in a home.

Officials finished identifying and cataloging the materials yesterday, and charges had not been filed.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives initially said Sunday’s explosion might have been caused by a man trying to make fireworks. Yesterday, Capt. Schaff said the metal grinding was not connected to fireworks production, though the material that was ignited could be.

No one was hurt in the explosion or in the subsequent fire, which spread to the home, authorities said. The fire, which erupted before 1 p.m., was not put out until about 5:30 p.m.

NORFOLK

Death sentence set in officer’s killing

A judge yesterday imposed the death penalty for a man who killed a Norfolk police officer in October 2005.

Thomas Porter, 31, was convicted of capital murder in March after he admitted shooting Officer Stanley Reaves three times in the head. A jury in Arlington, where the trial was moved because of the attention it received in the Hampton Roads area, recommended the death penalty.

Norfolk Circuit Judge Chuck Griffith announced the sentence in a courtroom crowded with Officer Reaves’ friends, family and colleagues. Porter’s execution date, which likely will be delayed by appeals, is set for Feb. 4.

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