- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 6, 2006


26 residents rescued from senior apartment

D.C. firefighters transported one man to a hospital and treated 25 other persons for minor smoke inhalation after a two-alarm blaze in an assisted-living center in Northwest yesterday afternoon.

Fire department spokesman Alan Etter said the fire broke out at about 5:30 p.m. in the 10-story Harvard Towers in the 1800 block of Harvard Street Northwest. The 193-unit complex is home to mostly senior citizens.

The fire began when a third-floor resident accidentally set the sleeve of her sweater on fire while trying to light a pilot light. She thought she had extinguish-ed the fire, took off the sweater and placed it on her bed. How-ever, the fire flared up again.

Most of the residents of the building were ordered to stay in their apartments, but a triage center was set up in front of the building to assist those who were evacuated.

A 65-year-old man was taken to a hospital after suffering smoke inhalation and a seizure.

Three persons were displaced by the fire, including the woman whose home it started in. Fire officials have not yet estimated the damage.

GW president to resign in 2007

George Washington University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg will resign next year, after a 19-year tenure that the school said was marked by growth and rising academic standards.

Mr. Trachtenberg will be 69 when he leaves office in the summer of 2007 as GW’s longest-serving president, the school said yesterday.

“After almost two decades at the helm, it is time for me to contribute to this great university in a different way and to work toward some personal goals that are impossible to achieve with the 24/7 demands of the presidency,” Mr. Trachtenberg said. He will remain on campus as a “university professor,” with plans to study ways that U.S. higher education may develop in coming decades.

The university’s endowment has risen to almost $1 billion from $200 million since Mr. Trachtenberg took office in 1988, the university said.



Charges added against 22 in MS-13

A federal indictment unsealed yesterday adds charges of murder, conspiracy and witness tampering, among others, to a racketeering case against members of the Hispanic gang MS-13.

The superseding indictment against 22 persons from the D.C. suburbs came as federal and local investigators from an anti-gang task force made additional arrests and executed search warrants across the region early yesterday.

Federal officials first arrested 19 persons in August and charged them with racketeering, a charge usually reserved for organized crime, for being part of the increasingly violent street gang. The new indictment, filed under seal April 4, includes 31 new counts, in addition to racketeering, to various people thought to belong to MS-13.

The new charges tied to the racketeering include six killings in Maryland mentioned in the original indictment and the January 2005 killing of a man in Fairfax. Several assaults, gun charges, kidnappings and attempted slayings also were added to the charges.

Among the three new defendants are two women. The 19 persons in the original indictment were all men. Most of those accused are in their 20s, and the majority are from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

All 22 charged with racketeering face a potential life sentence if convicted. Nine could be sentenced to death if convicted of committing murder or witness tampering while taking part in racketeering.


Cecil County maple state’s largest tree

The famous Wye Oak on the Eastern Shore was felled four years ago by a storm. Now a silver maple in Cecil County is the state’s largest tree.

In honor of Maryland’s Arbor Day, the state Department of Natural Resources announced yesterday that a 114-foot-tall silver maple in the Eder Park area of Cecil is the state’s biggest tree.

The maple has a 27-foot circumference, and its crown spreads 106 feet. It belongs to the Elkton Department of Recreation and Parks.

The announcement is the state’s first designation of the largest tree since the Wye Oak tree died in 2002.

The department also named biggest known species of a few other trees. For example, the state’s largest sycamore is in Baltimore County, and Maryland’s biggest weeping willow is in Allegany County.

Unlike the Wye Oak, the Cecil maple is set back in a wooded area and not easily accessible to curious visitors, a spokesman for the department said.


Man retrieving box killed on Beltway

A fatal accident on the Inner Loop of the Capital Beltway disrupted the morning commute for thousands of drivers yesterday morning.

The incident occurred just before 6 a.m. not far from the Branch Avenue exit.

Sgt. Russell Newell of the Maryland State Police said a motorist got out to retrieve an appliance box that had fallen off his vehicle onto the roadway. Witnesses said he was struck and killed by another vehicle.

All but one southbound lane of the roadway was closed for about two hours. The name of the victim was not released pending notification of family.


Man gets 12 years in armed bank robbery

A Frederick man was sentenced yesterday to more than 12 years in prison for robbing a bank in Bethesda two years ago, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

George Saunders, 40, was sentenced to 151 months by U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus, who also ordered Saunders to serve three years of supervised probation and repay $12,700 to Chevy Chase Bank.

Saunders pleaded guilty in January to robbing Chevy Chase Bank on Sept. 14, 2004. According to a statement of facts presented in court, Saunders first tried to rob an M&T; Bank in Potomac. He gave the teller a note threatening to shoot, but the teller activated an alarm and Saunders fled.

Twenty-three minutes later, according to the statement, Saunders went into the Chevy Chase Bank and handed a note to a teller demanding money. He fled with $12,700.


Bulldog found after kennel escape

An American bulldog who escaped from a kennel by scaling a 7-foot concrete wall topped with barbed wire was found last night, Animal Control Bureau officials said.

Rosco chewed and bent the latch on his outdoor pen, enabling him to push open the door and escape over the wall Tuesday. He was caught at 6:30 p.m. in a lake about four miles from the kennel, said Wayne Gilbert, superintendent for animal control.

Mr. Gilbert said Rosco, captured without incident, was “extremely exhausted” and wasn’t aggressive toward the officers. After being seen by a veterinarian, Rosco was placed in a reinforced kennel with a padlock.

The dog was brought to the kennel Sunday because it had jumped over a fence into a yard and attacked another dog, said Steve Snyder, an animal control supervisor. The owner was charged with having a dangerous dog, he said.

This is the first time animal control has had a dog escape by going over the wall, he said.

“He got out, climbed over the fence and said, ‘See ya,’” Mr. Snyder said of Rosco.


Forest fire spreads to 100 acres in park

A forest fire near the top of Lewis Mountain in Shenandoah National Park, east of Grottoes, has spread.

The National Park Service reported yesterday that 50 additional acres burned overnight. A total of 100 acres have burned since the blaze began Tuesday.

The Park Service said the fire is difficult to fight because of dry and windy conditions.

Crew members were using rakes and shovels to create a dirt barrier around the fire.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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