- - Sunday, July 13, 2008

Progress made in wildfire fight

PARADISE, Calif. — Firefighters “turned the corner” Saturday on a wildfire that destroyed part of a town in the Sierra Nevada foothills — one of the hundreds of blazes that continue to char huge swaths of California.

The federal government has committed $100 million and 80 percent of its firefighting resources to California, said Glen Cannon, an assistant administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Australia, Canada, Greece, Mexico and New Zealand also are sending firefighters and equipment.

Fire crews made progress Saturday in Butte County, north of Sacramento, as they fought to contain a blaze that destroyed about 50 homes and apparently killed one person in Concow, a rural community in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

“For the first time, we’ve really turned the corner,” Kim Sone, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention, said Saturday. “There’s more resources staffing the fire and the weather has changed. We’re getting good relative humidity and the winds are subsiding.”

Officials said that the blaze was about 40 percent contained, mostly in areas that had been at highest risk to more homes.

Baby name sold for $100 gas card

ORLANDO, Fla. — Someday, when a boy named Dixon and Willoughby Partin asks how he got his 24-letter name, he’ll learn it came with a hundred bucks worth of gas.

David Partin of Orlando offered the right to name his unborn son to a local radio station that offered $100 worth of free gas to the listener with the most interesting item to trade. Radio hosts Richard Dixon and J. Willoughby took Mr. Partin’s deal, planning to hand over the card when they see the birth certificate.

When the baby is born this winter, he will be named Dixon and Willoughby Partin, with the “and” included. Mr. Partin’s girlfriend, Samantha Bailey, tells the Orlando Sentinel that at least he will have an interesting story about how he got his name.

Colombia hostages return to families

SAN ANTONIO — Three Americans freed after being held more than five years by leftist rebels in Colombia gave thanks Saturday and urged people to not forget other hostages who were left behind.

They headed home to Florida after 10 days of treatment at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston.

“We’re going to go home now; we’re going to rest; we’re going to unwind for about a month and a half,” said Marc Gonsalves, who boarded a plane with Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell.

The men had been held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, since their drug surveillance plane went down in the jungle in February 2003. They were rescued by the Colombian military July 2, when undercover agents tricked the rebels into handing them over.

Mr. Stansell urged people — the media in particular — to remember the hostages still being held by FARC.

“Don’t forget the people that are still there,” he said. “Because of our rescue, there are fellow hostages that are still there. Some have 10 years — right this minute, right this minute, they’re in chains, looking for food and they’re on the run. Their families haven’t seen them for 10 years.”

Cable-fraud case may add counts

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — A federal judge has refused to dismiss charges of conspiracy and tax evasion against the imprisoned founder of Adelphia Communications Corp. and his son, ruling the charges don’t amount to double jeopardy.

The charges Adelphia founder John Rigas and his son, Timothy, faced in Pennsylvania are separate from the fraud charges on which they were prosecuted in New York, the judge ruled Friday.

“In the New York action, the Rigases were charged with agreeing to conceal from investors, analysts and lenders the failing financial condition of Adelphia,” District Judge John E. Jones III wrote. “In this action, the Rigases are charged with agreeing to avoid paying income taxes. These two different objectives mark two different conspiracies.”

John Rigas is serving 12 years in prison and Timothy Rigas, once Adelphia’s chief financial officer, is serving 17 years following their 2004 New York convictions on charges including conspiracy, bank fraud and securities fraud. Prosecutors said the Rigases essentially used Adelphia as their personal piggy bank. Once the nation’s fifth-biggest cable company, Adelphia collapsed into bankruptcy in 2002.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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