- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 17, 2008


Controlled burns used to fight fire

SAN FRANCISCO | Fire crews started a controlled burn in the Los Padres National Forest in hopes of halting the massive blaze’s spread through the ravaged hills of the central California coast.

A mandatory evacuation Tuesday morning emptied the cabins and summer homes that dot the heavily wooded ridges in anticipation of the burn, which is meant to clear away flammable brush between the wildfire and threatened buildings.

The lightning-sparked blaze has consumed 190 square miles of federal land and destroyed 27 homes along the storied Big Sur coast before spreading inland. The fire, which has burned for more than three weeks, is 61 percent contained, said Kathy Hilliker, spokeswoman for Monterey County Emergency Services.

About 20 houses were included in the new round of evacuations, but most of them are uninhabited summer cabins, said Ruby Urueta, spokeswoman with the Monterey County Emergency Operations Center.

“People will see smoke, but it’ll be a controlled operation,” Miss Urueta said. About 200 homes already have been evacuated in the rural Cachagua community because of the fire danger.


Jazz collection goes online

MOSCOW | Librarians at the University of Idaho are making the school’s prized collection of jazz recordings and materials available to the public online.

The university’s International Jazz Collection (www.ijc.uidaho.edu) is considered one of the leading archives in the U.S., and includes music from Lionel Hampton, Leonard Feather, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and Gerry Mulligan.


16 stingrays die at zoo

CHICAGO | An apparent malfunction in the heating and cooling system of a pool killed 16 stingrays at a suburban Chicago zoo, officials said.

Brookfield Zoo employees found the dead fish early Monday. They were among 32 stingrays in a temporary summer exhibit at the facility that also included nurse sharks, white-spotted bamboo sharks and horseshoe crabs.

The 16,000-gallon pool where the rays were kept has a heating and cooling system that keeps the water temperature about 79 degrees because stingrays are highly sensitive to water temperatures, said zoo spokeswoman Sondra Katzen.

The temperature in the pool somehow rose to about 89 degrees by Monday, she said.

“It’s pretty devastating,” Ms. Katzen said. “It’s a pretty tragic accident.”

Necropsies have been performed, but zoo officials did not immediately have the results.

The other fish in the exhibit appear to be unharmed and zoo employees were monitoring the other animals closely, Ms. Katzen said.

The exhibit is owned by San Diego-based Living Exhibits. The exhibit will temporarily remain closed while the company and utility ComEd investigate the malfunction, Ms. Katzen said.

The incident was not the first unusual death at the zoo this year. In January, a male giraffe died from strangulation in what officials deemed a “freak accident.”


Man found guilty of killing chief

MOUNT STERLING | A jury convicted a Kentucky man accused of fatally shooting the small-town police chief who was taking him to jail in his squad car.

Jurors found 38-year-old Jamie Barnett guilty Wednesday of wanton murder in the June 2007 death of Clay City Police Chief Randy Lacy.

Chief Lacy’s killing shocked the town east of Louisville because he was known as an officer who treated everyone with respect: He even handcuffed familiar prisoners such as Barnett in front rather than behind the back.

Officials say Chief Lacy was shot point-blank in the back of his head with his own gun.

Prosecutors asked jurors to convict Barnett of intentional murder, which could have led to the death penalty.

Defense attorneys argued for lesser charges of wanton murder or manslaughter.


Guard searches for fallen door

ST. PAUL | A door from a Minnesota National Guard helicopter is missing, and the Guard wants it back.

Five minutes after takeoff and 1,500 feet aloft, the Chinook helicopter’s 150-pound emergency door dropped, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Wednesday.

Where the door landed is a mystery, but National Guard officials said they think “the door exited the aircraft” east of U.S. Highway 61, west of Interstate 494 and south of Interstate 94 east of the Twin Cities, Col. Mike Huddleston told the newspaper.

“We’re very concerned about the community and we’d like to have the community find this,” said Col. Huddleston, the Minnesota National Guard’s director of army aviation.

No reports of damage or injuries have been filed, Col. Huddleston said. The accident happened Tuesday during a routine training mission.

National Guard officials said they were investigating why the door fell off, he said. The door has an upper and lower locking system that operated manually instead of hinges.

Getting the door back is crucial to the investigation, Col. Huddleston said, because officials want to learn if there is a structural issue “that would cause a fleet-wide problem.”


Police: Man kills woman, self

FLORISSANT | A man fatally shot a woman inside a shopping mall outside St. Louis on Wednesday and then killed himself, police said.

No one else was injured but the Jamestown Mall was evacuated.

The motive for the shooting just outside a Sears store had not been determined, said St. Louis County police spokeswoman Tracy Panus.

Authorities did not release the names of the dead or describe their relationship.

Marcus Gwynn said he heard four shots as he was walking into the mall to begin his shift at a Radio Shack store.

“I seen a lady on the ground face down, then he sits on the ground and shot himself in the head,” said Mr. Gwynn, 21. He described both the man and the woman as in their mid-40s.

Deborah and Michael Mingo said they were shopping at Sears when they heard several shots. She said she asked a clerk about the noise and was told it was likely construction, but a short time later people in the store were telling them to get out.

Police tape was wrapped around the entrance to the food court near the scene of the shooting.

Jamestown Mall is in far northern St. Louis County. It has about 60 stores and restaurants.


Wayward dolphins find new river

RED BANK | Some of the dolphins that have been entertaining spectators in a river at the New Jersey shore appear to have moved into another waterway instead of returning to the ocean.

The marine mammals fed on fish in the Shrewsbury River near Red Bank for the past few weeks.

Federal environmental representative Teri Frady said Wednesday that wildlife officials saw the dolphins during the weekend in the connecting Navesink River.

Miss Frady says that area is more remote and fewer people will bother the dolphins there. Authorities have issued 11 citations for harassing the dolphins.

An estimated eight to 12 dolphins were in the Navesink over the weekend, down from 15 in the Shrewsbury earlier. It is not clear whether the others are back in the Atlantic.


City chalks up suit over ads

PORTLAND | The city has sued an online classified ads company, Jobdango Inc., for $5,446 - the cost of removing hundreds of chalk messages drawn on city streets last September promoting the company.

The city said Jobdango already was warned after a similar advertising stunt in 2005. The company declined to comment on the lawsuit.


Police say mom poisoned baby

PITTSBURGH | Police said a Tennessee woman tried to kill her 4-month-old son by injecting a salt-water solution into his feeding tube at Children’s Hospital here overnight.

Police think it was the second time the mother tried to poison the boy since he was brought to Pittsburgh on July 9, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

The baby was in critical condition Wednesday, and his mother, Amber Brewington, 21, was awaiting arraignment on charges of attempted homicide, aggravated assault and child endangerment.

The child initially had been treated at hospitals in Tennessee, including Vanderbilt University Medical Center, suffering from high levels of sodium. He was brought here by his mother and her boyfriend, who is the baby’s father, on July 9.

Police Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki said the boy’s condition had improved during the trip to Pittsburgh. His health continued to improve until his mother visited him Sunday at Children’s Hospital. It was determined that he had high levels of sodium in his system.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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