- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 5, 2009

DISTRICT

Natural-gas leak eyed in home blast

D.C. fire officials say a natural-gas leak is suspected as the cause of a Saturday evening explosion that collapsed and caused more than $1 million in damage to a Northwest Washington home near the Montgomery County border.

County fire department spokesman Pete Piringer says there were no injuries in the 6:15 p.m. blast at the home near the intersection of Oregon and Nebraska avenues because the home’s residents were out of town.

Mr. Piringer says a preliminary investigation indicates a natural-gas buildup caused the explosion, but the exact cause has not been determined.

He says several neighboring houses sustained broken windows.

MARYLAND

Vehicle catches fire on I-70

HANCOCK, Md. | Authorities say a vehicle loaded with fireworks has caught fire near the town of Hancock.

Washington County fire department officials say the incident occurred Saturday on eastbound Interstate 70. They say a man apparently had bought fireworks from a stand and reported his vehicle was on fire.

Crews at the scene have not determined the cause of the fire.

VIRGINIA

Job lost in Wal-Mart, battlefield dispute

ORANGE | A local official who suggested a different location for a Wal-Mart Supercenter than a proposed site near a Civil War battlefield in Virginia has lost his job.

Orange County Administrator Bill Rolfe was fired Friday night after supervisors met in a closed session.

Wal-Mart is seeking the board’s blessing for a store near the Wilderness battlefield. Historians have loudly complained about the location. Wal-Mart maintains the store will not disturb the battlefield.

In an e-mail sent to supervisors June 15, Mr. Rolfe said it would be in the county’s best interests to broker a deal with the retailer to move the proposed store somewhere else in the county.

County planners have recommended approval of the Wal-Mart store.

All lanes open at bridge-tunnel

NORFOLK | All lanes of the busy Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel are open, with crews set to continue work on a faulty pump early Sunday.

Crews worked through the night to empty water from a malfunctioning water main so the tunnel linking Hampton and Norfolk could be fully opened Saturday.

VDOT spokeswoman Lauren Hansen said crews will return to the tunnel between 12:30 and 9:30 a.m. Sunday, then reopen it during the day for holiday traffic.

The bridge-tunnel is a key link to beach areas such as Virginia Beach and North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

Miss Hansen said crews still have to seek out the source of the problem and will probably assess the situation early next week.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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