- The Washington Times - Monday, May 21, 2007


Wildfire forces campers to flee

GORMAN — A fast-moving wildfire had burned more than 2,500 acres yesterday and forced thousands of people from campsites near Los Padres National Forest, authorities said.

No injuries were reported. The fire was 50 percent surrounded by early yesterday morning, said Los Angeles County fire Capt. Mike Brown.

More than 3,000 people were evacuated from four campsites in the area, Capt. Brown said.

The fire was reported at about 2 p.m. Saturday near the Golden State Freeway about 70 miles north of Los Angeles. By early yesterday, it had scorched nearly 4 square miles.

The cause of the blaze was under investigation, authorities said.

Elsewhere, a wildfire that had threatened homes and other structures in two northern Arizona forests was 80 percent contained. Twenty-one evacuees were allowed home yesterday. Officials projected full containment of the 6-square-mile Promontory fire by tomorrow. The blaze started May 13 and was thought to have been caused by a person.


Gunman, 2 others killed in spree

MOSCOW — A sniper sprayed dozens of bullets on a courthouse in an attack that left one dead and two wounded, then hid in a nearby church for several hours before police stormed in yesterday and found his body and another man’s inside, police said.

The shooting began late Saturday, fatally wounding one officer and injuring another and a civilian, said David Duke, Moscow’s assistant police chief. Chief Duke said the attack was apparently an ambush, with the gunman firing into the Latah County Courthouse to lure people into his line of fire.

About 6 a.m., three SWAT teams entered the First Presbyterian Church and found the two bodies on the main floor but not in the same room, Chief Duke said. The shooter died of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Chief Duke said. Authorities did not release either man’s name.

Chief Duke identified the slain officer as Lee Newbill, who had served with the Moscow Police Department since March 2001 and was the first city officer killed in the line of duty.

Police had no information about the gunman’s motive, Chief Duke said.


Students graduate in tornado’s rubble

GREENSBURG — Amid the ruins of their tornado-devastated town, residents celebrated a high school commencement Saturday that mixed tearful memories with pride and promises to rebuild.

Beneath two large tents set up at the town’s golf course, 25 graduates from Greensburg High School claimed their diplomas before a crowd of about 1,500 family members, friends and neighbors. Across town, their school — like 95 percent of the community — lay in rubble from a May 4 tornado that killed 10.

“This commencement is not only touching your lives and that of your parents, your teachers, but is part of the rebirth and rebuilding of your community and has the respectful attention and admiration of millions of Americans,” Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, told graduates. “That is a pretty big deal. Heavy stuff.”

Co-valedictorian Slade Headrick told classmates how he got lost when he first came back to Greensburg after the tornado because all the landmarks were gone. He likened those physical landmarks to life’s guideposts.

“I am proud to be from Greensburg. Our town may not look like it used to be, but it will grow and be bigger and better than it was. … We will build new landmarks,” Slade said.


Bear wanders into medical clinic

ALBUQUERQUE — A young patient sauntered into a medical clinic Friday morning and got prompt treatment — a tranquilizer dart and a quick trip back to the wilds.

But again, this patient was the four-legged kind: a young black bear who was probably hungry from a winter of hibernation.

“He did not have an appointment,” said Todd Sandman, director of public relations for Presbyterian Health Care Services.

The 125-pound male bear, perhaps 2 to 3 years old, entered through an automatic door at the Presbyterian Medical Group gastroenterology laboratory, a stand-alone building off one the main routes in Rio Rancho, north of Albuquerque.

“There were just a handful of people there,” Mr. Sandman said.

Everyone was evacuated safely, he said.


Single mom buys winning ticket

NORTH CANTON — Kristina Schneider tried to persuade a customer at the BP station where she works to buy the last ticket on a roll of the Magnificent Millions lottery game.

“I always joke that the last ticket is the winning one, but he said he only had enough money for three tickets,” she said.

This time, her advice was no joke.

The single mother — with nine maxed-out credit cards and $8,500 in debt for her associate degree — bought what turned out to be a $1 million winning ticket with a $10 bill she found in the store Friday.

The 32-year-old woman opted to take 20 yearly payments of $50,000, or $34,500 after taxes.

“If I’d have taken a lump sum, I’d be broke again within five years,” she said.


2 dead, 32 hurt in bus crash

CLEARFIELD — A bus veered off a highway and crashed in central Pennsylvania early yesterday, killing two persons and injuring 32 others, authorities said.

The bus was traveling eastbound on Interstate 80 with 35 persons on board when it crashed six miles west of Clearfield at about 3:30 a.m., state police said.

“It appears that the bus, and we don’t know why, did leave the roadway, and came back on, and the bus did eventually wind up on its side,” state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Marla Fannin said.

Miss Fannin said two persons died and the others sustained various injuries.

Yuk Sau Wong of OK Travel Bus Inc. said the bus, one of two or three the company owns, left Youngstown, Ohio, after midnight and was headed for New York City. She said the bus line mainly serves Chinese customers but also carries other passengers.


War re-enactors wed in period costume

ANDERSON — All Tami Massingill wanted for her wedding were a nice cake and pretty invitations.

But the 36-year-old bride and her betrothed, 37-year-old Danny Smith, were able to get in a period drama before their vows.

On Friday, the two participated in a Civil War re-enactment of the Battle of Central at the Tankersley Farm near the town of Central.

About 50 people attended the event, which included a minister dressed in period garments including a black hat, at the farm overlooking the Appalachian Mountains and far from modern sights.

Although she wore a hoop skirt and he wore a Confederate States of America soldier’s uniform, the couple managed a few more modern wedding touches, such as throwing the bouquet, sipping champagne and the endless line of photos.


Fishermen survive after boat capsizes

ANGLETON — Two fishermen whose boat capsized in the Gulf of Mexico survived nearly two days and nights drifting at sea before one of them climbed the leg of an offshore oil platform.

The men were rescued early Friday after drifting more than 20 miles over the course of about 40 hours, first aboard a small area of the boat’s underside and then buoyed by life jackets.

Aaron Pilcher, 29, and Michael Prahm Jr., 27, embarked on their trip Wednesday morning from Freeport, 55 miles south of Houston. They motored their 23-foot-long boat to a popular fishing site about 36 miles offshore.

They noticed the boat was taking on water at about noon. The boat capsized just as they turned on the radio to try to call for help.

Mr. Pilcher surprised the rig’s crew when he walked into the galley at about 3:30 a.m. Friday. The Coast Guard was notified, and a patrol boat found Mr. Prahm two miles away at 6 a.m.

The men were treated at a hospital Friday for sunburn, cuts and scrapes.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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