- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 21, 2008

CALIFORNIA

Mechanical failure eyed in hotel blast

SAN DIEGO — A mechanical failure or gas likely triggered an explosion that rocked a waterfront hotel under construction, damaging four floors and injuring 14 workers, five critically, a fire official said.

The blast occurred at about 2 p.m. Monday, ripping off part of the Hilton hotel’s facade and sending debris flying. More than 400 construction workers were at the site at the time, Mayor Jerry Sanders said.

Bruce Ragland, who runs an entry gate at the Petco Park baseball stadium about 200 yards from the hotel, said he was looking right at the building when the explosion blew through two sides and set off a shock wave.

“It was just like watching a Bruce Willis movie, like you know, ‘Die Hard,’ ” Mr. Ragland said.

FLORIDA

Smoky air raises health concerns

MIAMI — A massive and smoky wildfire burned in the Everglades early yesterday, prompting health warnings across South Florida and the evacuation of two detention centers.

Smoke and fog advisories were issued across South Florida. Children, the elderly and people with breathing problems were told to avoid being outdoors.

The fire was burning almost 40,000 acres — or about 62 square miles — of Everglades National Park. Officials hope a rise in humidity will slow its spread.

“Firefighters are in a much better position … because it only spread somewhat on Monday,” said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Nina Barrow.

ARIZONA

Shuttle service comes to canyon

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK — Visitors to the Grand Canyon will be able to test a new free shuttle service on June 2. The shuttle will take visitors from the nearby community of Tusayan to the South Rim, where most of the canyon’s visitors go.

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