- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 26, 2007


Wildfire flares up; residents evacuated

WAYCROSS — Dozens of residents evacuated their homes for several hours early yesterday after a wildfire jumped a road and spread toward two small communities.

“It looked like it was snowing with all the ash falling. You could feel the heat,” said Darryl Cribbs, 44, who packed up his family in Braganza after sheriff’s deputies came to their door about 1 a.m.

The wildfire spread rapidly Tuesday night and early yesterday near the private, nonprofit Okefenokee Swamp Park, fueled by dense and dry trees and brush.

Firefighters worked yesterday to widen fire breaks plowed by bulldozers along the northern edge of the swamp in hopes of protecting nearby homes and keeping the fire from reaching U.S. 1.


Prison stops taking out-of-state inmates

NEW CASTLE — Authorities have transferred more than 200 inmates accused of helping instigate a two-hour riot at a state prison run by a private company, officials said yesterday.

The state also suspended plans to accept hundreds more inmates from Arizona at the New Castle Correctional Facility.

Authorities were investigating whether Tuesday’s two-hour fracas, involving about 500 inmates, started because some newly arrived prisoners from Arizona were upset about their treatment at the medium-security men’s prison.

The riot, during which two staff members and seven prisoners suffered minor injuries, involved inmates from both states. No one escaped, officials said.

Yesterday’s transfers included 69 inmates from Arizona, who were moved to the Wabash Valley prison near Carlisle. A total of 151 Indiana inmates were taken to the Plainfield Correctional Facility, according to a statement from the Indiana Department of Correction.


Lye in city water; residents hospitalized

SPENCER — Several residents were taken to hospitals yesterday with burns and rashes after the town’s water supply was accidentally treated with too much corrosive lye, police said.

People in Spencer were advised not to use or touch the water until further notice, said Ed Coletta, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Residents started complaining of skin irritation and moderate burns after showering early yesterday, police Sgt. John Agnew said. He said officials determined that a malfunction at the town’s water treatment plant had released too much sodium hydroxide into the water supply.

Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, is routinely put into water to reduce acidity and limit pipe corrosion, Mr. Coletta said.


Couple uses MySpace to seek adoption

TAYLOR — A suburban couple who spent five years trying to conceive has turned to MySpace.com in search of birth parents so they can adopt a child.

Sherry and Karl Dittmar already have a biological son and two adopted sons, but they also want a little girl.

“Dear birthmother,” their MySpace posting begins. “We cannot imagine how difficult making an adoption plan for your child must be. … Thank you for including our profile in your search for the right family to raise your baby.”


Dogfighting operations uncovered in raids

JACKSON — Federal authorities arrested 14 persons in Mississippi and Louisiana on Tuesday in a cocaine trafficking investigation that also resulted in more than 40 dogs being seized from a dogfighting operation.

A federal grand jury handed up a 21-count indictment on charges of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine hydrochloride, said U.S. Attorney Jim Letten of the Eastern District of Louisiana.

The Drug Enforcement Administration learned of the dogfighting operation during its narcotics investigation, said Michael Sanders, an agency spokesman in New Orleans.

Harrison County Sheriff George Payne Jr. said the dogs were being trained in Mississippi and taken to Louisiana to fight.


Body found in home in cop-killer hunt

MARGARETVILLE — Authorities recovered a body last night from the shell of a house destroyed by fire after police raided it in search of a man suspected of shooting three New York state troopers, one fatally.

Police did not immediately confirm the body was that of Travis D. Trim, a 23-year-old from northern New York whom police had been looking for since Tuesday. However, “the body was slumped in a doorway holding a rifle,” said Preston Felton, acting superintendent of the New York State Police.

Just before the flames erupted, police fired a non-incendiary tear-gas canister into the home, Mr. Felton said. They weren’t sure how the fire started. Mr. Felton said Mr. Trim might have set the fire, or a tear-gas round could have ignited something. Sharpshooters were in position but fired no shots, Mr. Felton said.

The first shooting occurred Tuesday, after Trooper Matthew Gombosi stopped Mr. Trim in a stolen minivan for a minor traffic infraction in the Margaretville area. The policeman was saved by his body armor. Yesterday morning, Troopers David C. Brinkerhoff and Richard Mattson were shot, in the head and the arm respectively, while searching an Arkville farm for Mr. Trim, police said.

Mr. Brinkerhoff, 29, died shortly afterward. The eight-year member of the state police is survived by his wife and a 7-month-old daughter.


Miss America helps catch sex predators

OKLAHOMA CITY — Miss America can add crime fighter to her resume.

Lauren Nelson recently went undercover with police in New York for a sting targeting sexual predators.

Officers with Suffolk County’s computer crimes unit created an online profile of a 14-year-old girl that included photographs of Miss Nelson as a teenager.

“I got to chat online with the predators and made phone calls, too,” said Miss Nelson, 20, whose platform issue is Internet safety for children, by phone from Atlantic City, N.J. “The Suffolk County Police Department was there the whole time.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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