- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 29, 2006

CALIFORNIA

Shrinking wildfire still a threat

BEAUMONT — Dying winds and lower temperatures gave firefighters an edge yesterday in fighting a 63-square-mile wildfire that killed four of their own last week, although the blaze was still threatening a wilderness area plagued by drought and filled with dead trees.

Fire officials said the 40,000-acre blaze, blamed on arson and burning in Southern California about 90 miles east of Los Angeles, was 70 percent contained four days after blowtorch gusts overran a U.S. Forest Service crew. Four members were killed, and a fifth was left with burns over most of his body. Firefighter Pablo Cerda, 23, was listed in critical condition yesterday at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.

WISCONSIN

Halloween party ends peacefully

MADISON — The crowd was a lot smaller, but so were the problems, at an annual Halloween party that ended without violence or the use of pepper spray as it had in recent years.

Police recorded fewer arrests among the estimated 35,000 costumed revelers, less than half the 80,000 that jammed the party last year. About 250 people were arrested from Friday night through yesterday morning, compared with 566 last year, Sgt. Richard Scanlon said. Most of the arrests were for alcohol-related offenses, he said

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FLORIDA

Teen picks up riders on stolen bus

FERN PARK — A 15-year-old boy stole a bus, drove it along a public transit route, picked up passengers and collected fares, authorities said yesterday.

Ritchie Calvin Davis was already on probation for taking a tour bus and driving passengers, authorities said.

In Saturday’s incident, he took the bus from the Central Florida Fairgrounds in Orlando, where it was parked awaiting sale at an auction, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said. The bus belongs to the Central Florida Transportation Agency, which runs Lynx public transit services in the Orlando area.

“I drove that bus better than most of the Lynx drivers could,” the teen, who is too young to drive legally, told a deputy after he was stopped and arrested. “There isn’t a scratch on it. I know how to start it, drive it, lower it, raise it.”

Passengers and deputies noted that Davis drove the bus at normal speeds and made all the appropriate stops on the route. One passenger, suspicious of the youthful looks of the driver, called 911.

Davis was charged with grand theft auto and driving without a license.

HAWAII

Tour bus rates likely to rise

HONOLULU — A tour bus trip around the islands is likely to become pricier. The state Public Utilities Commission, which regulates Hawaii’s ground transportation industry, approved a 10 percent increase for motor coach rates beginning Jan. 1.

Tour bus companies sought the increase, arguing that they are paying more for fuel, labor and insurance.

LOUISIANA

Oyster harvest struggles to recover

NEW ORLEANS — It’s a lean year for Louisiana oysters. Mike Voisin, chairman of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force, estimated the cost of a pint of oysters at $9 to $10, up from about $8 a year ago.

He said reefs are still recovering from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the harvest is down 20 percent to 30 percent from last year.

MISSOURI

St. Louis named most dangerous city

ST. LOUIS — Just days after the St. Louis Cardinals won the top honor in Major League Baseball, their hometown jumped to first place on a list no one wants to lead: the most dangerous cities in the United States.

This Midwestern city long has been in the upper tiers of the annual ranking of the nation’s most dangerous cities, compiled by Morgan Quitno Press. Violent crime surged nearly 20 percent there this year, according to FBI figures released in June.

The ranking is being released today, even while the city celebrates Friday’s World Series victory at the new Busch Stadium. St. Louis has been spending millions of dollars on urban renewal even as the crime rate climbs.

The safest city in 2005 was Brick, N.J., population about 78,000, followed by Amherst, N.Y., and Mission Viejo, Calif. The second most dangerous city was Detroit, followed by Flint, Mich., and Compton, Calif.

NEW YORK

Gusts knock out power for thousands

NEW YORK — Thousands of homes and businesses had no electricity yesterday from Maryland to Maine as a storm system blasted the region with winds gusting to more than 50 mph, knocking over trees and a construction crane. The storm was blamed for at least two deaths.

The National Weather Service forecasts gusts of up to 70 mph yesterday in northern New York state.

A falling tree killed a motorcyclist in Massachusetts, police said. In New Hampshire, one man was missing after falling off a cruise ship on Lake Winnipesaukee during the storm late Saturday, and one man drowned when his kayak overturned on a rain-swollen river, state officials said.

In hard-hit Maine, a 165-foot crane with a wrecking ball attached toppled in one of the most populous neighborhoods of Portland, falling on three houses. No injuries were reported. The wrecking ball narrowly missed a car.

Utilities in Maine reported 44,000 customers still in the dark at midday yesterday and gusts up to 50 mph were causing new failures even as crews tried to restore service.

OKLAHOMA

Bungee fall kills man in hayride stunt

SOUTH COFFEYVILLE — A man staging a bungee-jumping stunt to scare passengers on a Halloween hayride died after his head slammed into the side of a trailer, authorities said.

Frank Pfister, 56, was fatally injured Saturday while several hundred people were attending the Trail of Spooks Hay Rack Ride. He was among more than 100 volunteers working on the fundraising event.

“The cable that kept him suspended snapped,” said Kassie Johnson, who was on the hayride. “At first I thought it was just a dummy falling out of the tree. The trailer bumped up in the air when he hit. Then everyone started screaming.”

TENNESSEE

97 burgers add up to eating record

CHATTANOOGA — Japanese eating champion Takeru Kobayashi won his third straight Krystal hamburger-eating contest Saturday, setting a world record in the process.

Mr. Kobayashi ate 97 of the small, square hamburgers in eight minutes. That beat the record of 69 burgers, which he set at the first Krystal contest in 2004.

Joey Chestnut of San Jose, Calif., came in second by eating 91 hamburgers, and Pat Bertoletti of Chicago ate 76.

Mr. Kobayashi also holds the championship title for eating hot dogs, after downing 49 in 12 minutes at the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island, N.Y.

The Krystal finals are governed by the International Federation of Competitive Eating. Founded by brothers Richard and George Shea in 1997, it regulates events for safety and keeps records on everything from meatballs to green chiles.

WASHINGTON

Army to recycle building materials

FORT LEWIS — Materials from hundreds of dilapidated World War II-era buildings, scattered like shrapnel across this sprawling post, are headed for the salvage yard instead of the landfill in a campaign to cut the military’s massive output of solid waste and save money.

Rather than bulldozing the aging buildings, with peeling white paint and wood-framed windows swollen shut, the Army is considering recycling lead-based paint from the wood siding and offering doors, sinks and windows for reuse as a green alternative to traditional demolition.

Fort Lewis has 200 to 300 decades-old structures slated for removal during the next 12 years, said Ron Norton, solid waste and recycling program manager for Fort Lewis public works. They contain salvageable materials such as framing lumber, windows, doors, hardwood floors and wood siding.

A key issue in the salvage effort is the lead-based paint used on wood exteriors that, if left in landfills, could contaminate soil and water.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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