- - Monday, January 16, 2012

ALASKA

Fuel transfer begins from tanker at Nome

ANCHORAGE — Crews have begun transferring 1.3 million gallons of fuel from a Russian fuel tanker to the iced-in western Alaska city of Nome.

Stacey Smith of Vitus Marine, the fuel supplier that arranged to have the Russian tanker Renda and its crew deliver the fuel, said the offloading began around sundown Monday.

Earlier, crews laid two hoses for the transfer along a stretch of Bering Sea ice.

Jason Evans, board chairman of the Sitnasuak Native Corp., said crews Monday hooked the hoses to a pipeline 550 yards from the tanker.

The city of 3,500 didn’t get its last barge fuel delivery before winter because of a massive storm. Without the Renda’s delivery, Nome would run out of fuel long before the next barge delivery is possible.

ARIZONA

Tucson base lockdown arose from mistake

PHOENIX — An official with an Arizona air force base in Tucson says the false report of a hostage-taking at the base in September was the result of a misunderstanding.

Capt. Jonathan Simmons told the Arizona Republic that officials at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base don’t believe it was a hoax but rather a mistake.

There were unconfirmed reports of gunfire at the base Sept. 16, which prompted officials to limit traffic onto the base and lock down schools. No weapons or gunman were found.

Emails among Air Force officials sent during the six-hour episode indicate fears of a tragedy similar to the 2009 rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, in which an Army psychiatrist is accused of killing 13 and wounding dozens.

CALIFORNIA

Homeless-killings suspect held in isolation

YORBA LINDA — A Southern California district attorney’s office is expected to announce the filing of criminal charges against an Iraq War veteran suspected in the stabbing death of four homeless men.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has scheduled a news conference for 11 a.m. Tuesday to announce charges against Itzcoatl Ocampo. The 23-year-old Mr. Ocampo is expected to be charged with four counts of murder.

Lt. Hal Brotheim, a spokesman with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, said Mr. Ocampo is being held in isolation at the central jail in Santa Ana for his own safety because of the notoriety of the case.

According to Mr. Ocampo’s family he returned home from his tour in Iraq a very different man when he was discharged in 2010.

MASSACHUSETTS

Instructor, student killed in plane crash

BREWSTER — Officials say the two people killed in a small plane crash off Cape Cod were a flight instructor and his student.

The Cape Cod Times reported that authorities identified the victims as Oulton Hues, 73, of Edgartown and Norwood, and Robert Walker, 68, of Falmouth.

The plane crashed Sunday morning after the pilot reported smoke in the cabin. They were taking a 20-minute flight from Martha’s Vineyard to Hyannis.

Martha’s Vineyard Airport Manager Sean Flynn told the paper that Hues was an instructor while Walker had his license but was training for advanced certification.

Police say firefighters found one body on the beach in Brewster on Sunday afternoon. The other body was later found in the water by a Coast Guard helicopter.

FLORIDA

Bank foreclosing on Simpson’s house

MIAMI — A bank is foreclosing on the Florida home of O.J. Simpson, who is serving time in a Nevada prison for kidnapping, armed robbery and other charges.

Miami-Dade Circuit Court records show that JPMorgan Chase filed for foreclosure in September. Simpson’s attorneys have since filed a motion to dismiss the case.

Simpson bought the four-bedroom, four-bath house south of downtown Miami in 2000 for $575,000. Its current assessed value is $478,401.

The 64-year-old former football star and actor is serving a nine- to 33-year prison sentence for a 2007 armed confrontation with sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas casino hotel room.

Simpson was acquitted in 1995 in the Los Angeles slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

NEW YORK

Hospital mistakenly bills patients for millions

NEW YORK — Patients at a New York City hospital are getting billed for tens of millions of dollars because of a computer error.

Unemployed doorman Alexis Rodriguez said he almost became ill when he received a $44.8 million bill from the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center.

Mr. Rodriguez told the New York Daily News that he was hospitalized last spring with pneumonia and was afraid the bill was valid.

The company that prepares the bills had mistakenly put the invoice number in the space where the invoice amount should go.

The billing company is telling patients to ignore the multimillion-dollar bills. It says it will send out corrected ones.

FLORIDA

3,500-year-old cypress catches fire, collapses

LONGWOOD | Firefighters say one of the world’s oldest cypress trees has caught fire and collapsed in central Florida.

It’s unknown what caused a 118-foot-tall bald cypress tree named “the Senator” to catch fire early Monday.

Seminole County Fire Rescue spokesman Steve Wright told the Orlando Sentinel that the tree burned for several hours from the inside out.

Firefighters arrived about 5:50 a.m. and pulled more than 800 feet of hose through Big Tree Park to the fire. Mr. Wright said a 20-foot section of the tree fell off about 7:45 a.m., and the tree collapsed a half-hour later.

According to the county’s parks and preservation department, “the Senator” was roughly 3,500 years old.

Parks officials said the tree reached a height of 165 feet before a 1925 hurricane lopped off its top.

CALIFORNIA

Jobs action figure pulled from market

SAN JOSE — The company that began advertising for an incredibly lifelike Steve Jobs doll won’t sell the figures after all because of pressure from family and Apple attorneys.

In Icons had planned to offer the 1-foot-tall, lifelike figure dressed in Jobs’ trademark black mock turtleneck, rimless glasses and jeans.

But the San Jose Mercury News reports that the company posted a statement on its website Sunday saying it had received “immense pressure” to drop the plan and made the decision out of its “heartfelt sensitivity to the feelings of the Jobs family.”

The iconic Apple co-founder died Oct. 5 of complications from pancreatic cancer.

The company had intended to start shipping the doll in February. It said any money received for orders will be returned.

KANSAS

Fugitive’s suit against hostages dismissed

TOPEKA — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Colorado man who held a Kansas couple hostage then sued them for breach of contract for turning him in.

Jesse Dimmick of Denver contended he had a legally binding oral contract with Jared and Lindsay Rowley that they would hide him from police in return for money.

Dimmick was a fugitive facing a murder charge when he burst into the Rowleys’ home in September 2009 and confronted them at knifepoint. The Rowleys escaped when he fell asleep.

Dimmick was later convicted of kidnapping and other charges and the Rowleys sued him for more than $75,000 in damages. Dimmick countersued, seeking $160,000 for hospital bills and $75,000 for pain and suffering.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that a judge dismissed the suit Jan. 9.

From wire dispatches and staff reports