- - Monday, September 5, 2011

ALASKA

Man killed in plane collision with girlfriend

ANCHORAGE | A pilot was communicating by radio with her boyfriend before their planes collided in the air over Alaska last week, killing him, a federal investigator said.

The two pilots took off from different western Alaska villages Friday but met up in the air on the way to Bethel, Alaska, National Transportation Safety Board investigator Clint Johnson told the Anchorage Daily News on Sunday.

Kristen Sprague, 26, was flying a Cessna 207 operated by rural freight carrier Ryan Air, said Alaska State Troopers. She made an emergency landing with one airplane wing seriously damaged and wasn’t hurt.

The other plane, a Cessna 208 Caravan, crashed and burst into flames Friday around 1:30 p.m. near the village of Nightmute, Alaska, about 400 miles west of Anchorage, Alaska, killing Scott Veal, 24, of Kenai, Alaska. Each was the only person onboard.

CALIFORNIA

Fire sparked by plane crash threatens homes

TEHACHAPI | Strong winds Monday fanned a fast-moving wildfire that was ignited by a deadly plane crash, forcing residents to flee and threatening 650 homes in this mountain community.

The fire, which destroyed at least one house after the single-engine Cessna 210 went down Sunday near Tehachapi, was burning in a region known for its wind farms. People in the rugged communities of Old West Ranch and Owens Ranch were ordered to evacuate.

It quickly spread to 4,700 acres - more than 7 square miles - as it chewed through thick brush over steep, rugged terrain amid dry, hot windy conditions, Kern County fire department spokesman Cary Wright said.

LOUISIANA

Feds: Workers return to Gulf oil and gas jobs

NEW ORLEANS | Federal officials say offshore oil and gas workers in the Gulf of Mexico are going back to platforms and rigs that had been evacuated because of Tropical Storm Lee.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement said Monday in a news release that 232 production platforms and 24 rigs had been evacuated. That meant about 38 percent of the total 617 manned platforms and 33 percent of the 70 drilling rigs operating in the Gulf were evacuated.

BOEMRE said the evacuations had shut down 61 percent of the oil production and 46 percent of the natural gas production in the Gulf.

The rigs and platforms will be inspected for damage and then brought back online.

NEW YORK

Weather service: Tornado touched down near capital

AMSTERDAM | A tornado that caused property damage near the state capital, Albany, was spawned in a string of violent thunderstorms a week after Tropical Storm Irene brought destructive flooding to the region.

The tornado was about a half-mile wide and on the ground for more than 10 minutes Sunday evening, said Steve DiRienzo, a National Weather Service meteorologist who assessed the damage Monday. Amateur video posted online shows a dark funnel cloud crossing the New York Thruway, where it knocked down trees.

Mr. DiRienzo said the tornado hit around 5:20 p.m. and traveled east about 4 miles along the Mohawk River, from the town of Amsterdam into Schenectady County’s hilly West Glenville. Estimates of wind speeds weren’t immediately available, he said. But trees and power lines were knocked down, parts of some roofs and pieces of siding were torn off and windows were blown out. There were no reports of serious injuries.

Amsterdam Town Supervisor Tom DiMezza said 30 to 40 homes and businesses had damage.

WASHINGTON

Man subdued after rushing jet exit door

SEATTLE | A 39-year-old man was in custody after he tried to rush the exit door of an Alaska Airlines jet as it was taxiing to a gate at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Airport spokesman Perry Cooper says passengers and the crew had to subdue the man Monday, who was apparently anxious to get off the plane. One crew member was bitten in the arm during the scuffle and was taken to Highline Medical Center in Burien, Wash., for treatment of minor injuries.

The man was taken to Highline for a mental health evaluation, before being transferred to a county jail. He was expected to be booked on investigation of felony assault.

Flight 108 from Anchorage, Alaska, landed in Seattle at about 4:30 a.m. Monday.

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