- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 23, 2003

National Guard prepared to battle forest fire

SISTERS, Ore. — National Guard troops were ready to help firefighters yesterday in their battle against wildfires burning in a national forest and threatening a tiny mountain community.

Gov. Theodore R. Kulongoski, a Democrat, declared a state of emergency Friday, allowing the troops to help firefighters.

In Wyoming, firefighters battled a blaze in the Shoshone National Forest that exploded to 14,500 acres Friday from 20 acres a few days earlier.

The fires in Oregon’s Deschutes National Forest stood at a combined 24,290 acres. Scattered buildings have been destroyed, and about 1,500 campers and summer residents have been forced to leave.

“This is not going to be a quick suppression effort,” incident commander Bob Anderson told about 200 people at an emergency shelter at Sisters Elementary School.

Museum files $3 million suit about looted art

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A local museum has filed a $3 million suit against a New York art gallery, saying the gallery misled it about the ownership of an Italian Renaissance painting that it later had to return to Italy.

The Springfield museum purchased “Spring Sowing” by Jacopo la Ponte from M. Knoedler & Co. Inc. for $5,000 in 1955. At the time, a bill of sale said the 1567 painting belonged to a “Swiss lady” whose family owned it “for a very long time.”

But in 2000, the Italian government contacted the museum with records showing that the painting had been stolen from the Italian Embassy in Warsaw during World War II. The Springfield museum turned over the painting to the Ufizzi Gallery in Florence in 2001.

Scheme to fake death foiled by old friend

DURANGO, Colo. — A woman’s scheme to avoid prison by faking her death in a truck accident came undone when a childhood friend, now a sheriff’s deputy, spotted her by chance far from home.

Misty Quackenbush, 27, of Cortez, was supposed to have been sentenced July 11 to four years in prison on her guilty plea to distribution of methamphetamines.

Instead, she reportedly placed personal identification in an abandoned pickup near a reservoir, doused the truck with blood of unknown origin and fled, officials said.

About four weeks later, former Montezuma County Deputy Brandon Brown, now a Texas law enforcement officer, spotted Quackenbush in Shamrock, Texas, some 600 miles from Cortez. Mr. Brown had read about her supposed death and turned her in to authorities.

Man charged in slaying of four persons

GASTONIA, N.C. — A man was arrested and charged yesterday with killing four persons at a home in a quiet riverfront community.

Keith Lavoris Hall, 24, was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and was being held in the Gaston County jail, police said. Police Maj. Jeff Isenhour said robbery was the motive in the shootings but declined to elaborate.

The home’s owner had told police he discovered the bodies Wednesday night when he returned to the house after being away for about three hours

County emergency workers have said the four victims were shot execution-style with single gunshots. Two women were found dead on a couch. The other was slumped outside a bedroom, and the man was sprawled in the dining room.

ch to resumefor flood victims

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Searchers with tracking dogs returned to the banks of a creek yesterday looking for any sign of a woman and 6-year-old girl who were swept away when a flash flood uprooted their home.

A boy, believed to be 5 or 6, had also been in the house and was found dead Friday evening along Stony Creek, a tributary of the Kentucky River, said Franklin County Coroner Mike Harrod.

The creek is normally a small stream that trickles through a bed of rocks about 50 feet wide, but heavy rain Friday quickly flooded it, sending water over a nearby bridge and washing out a roadway.

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