- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Specialists to battle sugar-refinery fire

PORT WENTWORTH — Specialists arrived yesterday to help extinguish a five-day-old sugar-refinery fire burning too intensely and deeply for standard firefighting to douse, and officials feared the deadly blaze once again could burst into explosions.

Thick masses of molten sugar were smoldering at temperatures as high as 4,000 degrees. Thousands of gallons of water have been dumped, but the depth of the burning sugar was greater than first thought.

“We’re dealing with a dormant volcano full of lava,” said Capt. Matt Stanley from the fire department in nearby Savannah.

Six persons were confirmed dead in Thursday’s fire and two other workers remained missing yesterday. The fire was knocked back enough so emergency workers were able to expand their search area yesterday.


Beagle first of his breed to win Westminster

NEW YORK — America has a new Snoop doggie.

Barking and baying up a storm, Uno lived up to his name last night by becoming the first beagle to win best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

The nation’s new top dog was clearly the crowd favorite, and drew a standing ovation from the sold-out audience at Madison Square Garden when he was picked.

Uno got right into the act, jumping up on handler Aaron Wilkerson and confirming his other title: noisiest in show.

The only dog consistently listed among America’s most popular breeds for nearly 100 years, a beagle had never won in the 100 times Westminster picked a champ. That changed when judge J. Donald Jones pointed to this nearly 3-year-old package of personality.


Old body found in dirt-filled tub

PHOENIX — A partially mummified body was found in a bathtub filled with dirt in an apartment that was stacked to the ceiling with garbage and human waste.

Owners of the small, standalone unit thought it had been abandoned in August, when rent stopped being paid, Phoenix police Sgt. Joel Tranter said Monday. Sgt. Tranter said the owners didn’t decide to do anything about the filthy apartment until last week, when they paid other tenants in the complex to clean it out.

When they made their way to the bathroom Friday, they found the bathtub filled with dirt and covered with plastic, a sheet and plywood. When they started shoveling the dirt out, they found the leg of a body and called police, Sgt. Tranter said.

Sgt. Tranter said the body may be that of a man who rented the unit in 1995 and was last seen seven years ago.


Overturned vehicle leaks hydrogen

WATERBURY — A tractor-trailer carrying canisters of volatile hydrogen gas crashed on a major East Coast route early yesterday, forcing responders to close the road and evacuate dozens of homes.

Compressed hydrogen gas leaked from some of the containers after the truck rolled on its side in the median about 5:30 a.m. on Interstate 84, state police said. The truck driver was slightly injured and taken to a hospital, authorities said. No other injuries were reported, and the cause of the crash was being investigated.

Both sides of the road were shut for most of the day, snarling traffic for miles on local roads that soon became choked with cars. Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, a high-ranking Democrat, got stuck in the traffic while traveling from New York to Hartford for a fundraiser for Connecticut Rep. Joe Courtney.


Tornado touchdowns reported in South

COCOA BEACH — Severe storms swept through the South yesterday, producing hail and damaging winds from Louisiana to Florida and spawning a possible tornado near Kennedy Space Center.

A condominium complex in Cocoa Beach sustained significant damage, said Brevard County Fire and Rescue. No serious injuries were reported, authorities said. Cocoa Beach is just a few miles south of the NASA complex, where no damage was reported. Space shuttle operations were not affected.

A deputy reported a tornado in St. Charles Parish in southern Louisiana. Three houses and a mobile home were damaged in Hinds County, Miss., said Lea Stokes, spokeswoman for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

Thousands of customers lost power in Mississippi, but it was expected to be restored by evening. Trees were toppled throughout the South.


Cabbie plays cupid on Valentine’s Day

NEW YORK — Finding your better half this Valentine’s Day could be as easy as hailing a taxi — especially if Ahmed Ibrahim is in the driver’s seat.

The 53-year-old cupid cabdriver, as he refers to himself, has spent the past few years playing matchmaker to lonely New Yorkers, setting up more than 70 dates. Nineteen have led to relationships that lasted more than a year. Mr. Ibrahim planned to decorate his yellow cab with red and white hearts and roses for tomorrow.

“I’ve organized so many dates, and it really makes me feel good about it,” Mr. Ibrahim said. “I’ve not had one complaint.”

One of his clients, Martin Karamon, said he successfully found romance through the cupid cab’s services. The relationship ended after about six months, though the two remain friends.

“I might have to get in his cab again because I just broke up with my girlfriend,” said Mr. Karamon, 37.


Deliberations start in murder trial

CANTON — A jury began deliberating yesterday in the trial of a former police officer accused of killing his pregnant lover, wrapping her body in a comforter and then dumping it in a park.

Bobby Cutts Jr. testified through sobs that he went to Jessie Davis’ house in June to pick up their 2½-year-old son, Blake, and accidentally killed her with an elbow to her neck as he was trying to leave.

Thousands searched for Miss Davis in the area surrounding her northeast Ohio home before he led police to the body. In closing arguments, prosecutor Dennis Barr said the former Canton police officer’s story made no sense. Mr. Barr said Mr. Cutts wanted Miss Davis and her baby dead because of mounting debt and child support for a fourth child.

Defense attorney Fernando Mack conceded that Mr. Cutts, 30, must take responsibility for dumping her body and leaving their son home alone for more than 24 hours. But he said those actions don’t prove Mr. Cutts committed aggravated murder.


Secretary calls rape accusers flirts

WICHITA FALLS — Two women who claim an Air Force colonel assaulted them, including one who says he raped her, constantly flirted with him and frequently went into his office, his former secretary testified at a military hearing yesterday.

Martha Cannon, who worked for Col. Samuel Lofton III when he was 82nd Training Group commander at Sheppard Air Force Base, said the rape accuser acted “like a schoolgirl” around him and went into his office so much that Ms. Cannon alerted her supervisors.

Ms. Cannon said the other woman, who earlier testified that Col. Lofton forcibly kissed her and put her hand on his genitals on two occasions, always tried to get his attention, had “googly eyes” and got red-faced around Col. Lofton.

“I would tell him she had a crush on him, was sweet on him,” Ms. Cannon testified, saying the women initiated the flirting. “He would kind of brush me off.”


Woman accused of depositing meth

BREMERTON — Credit unions accept deposits — just not of methamphetamine.

A woman who reportedly dropped an envelope containing money and a bag of meth at a Kitsap Credit Union was arrested and charged with drug possession, according to court documents.

A bank employee reported the deposit to police, who contacted the 18-year-old customer. Officers said she might have mistakenly included the bag when she got money out of her pocket for the deposit.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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