- - Sunday, July 8, 2012

BOISE — Efforts to contain a large wildfire in southern Idaho by Sunday evening were dashed as winds picked up and the region’s grass and sagebrush provided readily available fuel for a blaze estimated at 117 square miles.

But conditions improved elsewhere in the West, helping crews gain ground on wildfires in Colorado and Utah.

The fast-moving fire west of Twin Falls, Idaho, was first spotted Saturday afternoon and grew to 75,000 acres within 24 hours.

“They had winds today that were kind of making it difficult to get a handle on it,” Kyli Gough with the Bureau of Land Management told the Associated Press. “They’re not expecting containment tonight.”

In fire-ravaged Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper said Sunday that cool, wet weather allowed him to lift the statewide fire ban he ordered last month. The governor gave thanks to Mother Nature for “finally giving us some relief” as extreme fire conditions have abated in all of Colorado’s 64 counties.

MICHIGAN

Hugging a police officer costs woman her life

DETROIT — A woman celebrating the weekend before her 25th birthday was fatally shot Sunday when she hugged an off-duty police officer at a party, causing the officer’s service weapon to fire, according to police and her mother.

Adaisha Miller would have turned 25 on Monday, according to her mother, Yolanda McNair.

The shooting happened at an outdoor social gathering on the city’s west side about 12:30 a.m., said police Sgt. Even Stephens.

According to Sgt. Stephens, the woman “embraced the officer from behind, causing the holstered weapon to accidentally discharge.” The bullet punctured Ms. Miller’s lung and hit her heart, and she died at a hospital.

Sgt. Stephens said the Detroit officer will remain on administrative duties while authorities investigate the shooting. The officer’s name was not released.

NEW YORK

Journal refutes earlier study on arsenic-based life

NEW YORK — It was a provocative finding: strange bacteria in a California lake that thrived on something completely unexpected arsenic.

The research, published by a leading scientific journal in 2010, suggested that a very different kind of life could possibly exist and led to overheated speculation about alien life forms.

On Sunday, that same journal, Science, released two papers that rip apart the original research. They “clearly show” the bacterial species “does not break the long-held rules of life, said an accompanying statement from the journal.

The saga began when scientists led by Felisa Wolfe-Simon of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute published a paper that said the bacteria, found at Mono Lake in eastern California, could grow by substituting arsenic for phosphorus. Their paper raised eyebrows because phosphorus was considered essential to life, while arsenic, while chemically similar, is a poison.

For both new papers, scientists did their own tests of the bacteria. One team, led by Rosemary Redfield of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in Canada, reports that arsenic does not contribute to the bacteria’s growth. The other paper, from Swiss researchers, finds the bacteria to be highly resistant to the poisonous effects of arsenic, but still dependent on phosphorus to grow.

FLORIDA

Zimmerman leaves jail, staying in safe house

ORLANDO — The neighborhood watch leader who fatally shot Trayvon Martin is in a safe house that is being protected by his security team.

George Zimmerman was released Friday after posting bail for the second time on a second-degree murder charge. His attorney said Sunday he was in Seminole County in central Florida.

Mr. Zimmerman has received death threats over the February shooting, which prompted a national uproar and Mr. Zimmerman’s arrest 46 days after the incident.

He was released from jail after his defense fund helped him post 10 percent of the $1 million bond. A judge revoked his previous $150,000 bond last month when prosecutors presented evidence that Mr. Zimmerman and his wife misled the court about how much money they had.

Daniel, Emilia gain strength but pose no threat to land

MIAMI — Forecasters say Tropical Storm Emilia could become a hurricane in the next day or so, but the storm is not expected to threaten land.

On Sunday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Emilia was moving away from land over open ocean and was 550 miles south of Manzanillo, Mexico. Maximum sustained winds were recorded at 50 mph.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Daniel was still swirling farther out at sea. It was more than 1,000 miles west-southwest of the southern tip of Baja California. Daniel was a Category 2 storm, but is expected to weaken.

PENNSYLVANIA

Presbyterians reject redefinition of marriage

The Presbyterian Church narrowly rejected a proposal to change its definition of marriage from the union of a man and a woman to two people.

The Presbyterian General Assembly voted 338-308 against the measure near the end of its national meeting Friday in Pittsburgh.

The plan to revise the definition was proposed a year after the denomination struck down barriers to ordaining people in same-sex relationships. Several theologically conservative churches have either left the denomination or moved away from its leadership because of that decision.

Gay-marriage advocates have said a revision was needed now that six states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage.

Only one major U.S. Protestant group has endorsed same-sex marriage outright: the United Church of Christ.

CALIFORNIA

Minor quake hits area north of San Francisco

FORT BRAGG — No damage or injuries have been reported after a 4.3 magnitude earthquake rattled a coastal area in far Northern California.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake hit at 5:05 a.m. Sunday about three miles northwest of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County. Initially the earthquake had been reported as 4.2 magnitude, but the USGS upgraded the quake after it was reviewed by a seismologist.

A Fort Bragg police dispatcher says there was no damage. Police did receive calls from city residents about the quake.

Fort Bragg is about 140 miles north of San Francisco.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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