- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 8, 2009


Low water flow hurt fire response

A city report issued Friday said inadequate water flow from fire hydrants hindered the effort to stop a blaze at a large Northwest Washington home.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty released the preliminary report on the July 29 fire that destroyed the home of former D.C. Board of Education President Peggy Cooper Cafritz on Chain Bridge Road.

The report said hydrants there are attached to a 75-year-old cast-iron water main, which is not uncommon. But tests showed the hydrants’ flow was far less than needed to fight the fire.

The report also said road design and the hilly area created water flow problems with other hydrants.

Although low water flow affected the time required to put out the fire, the report said it was debatable how much of the house might have been saved had the water flow been greater.

Metro to replace track circuit parts

Red Line riders can continue to expect delays this month as crews work to replace track circuitry at the site of a deadly crash.

Metro said all track circuit parts between the Fort Totten and Takoma stations would be replaced. That includes cables and equipment for the signaling system, which detects trains.

Officials said Red Line trains starting Friday night would share the same track between the two stations each night from 10 p.m.

Red Line service has been delayed since nine people were killed and more than 70 injured on June 22 when a train slammed into another train stopped on the tracks near the Maryland state line.

Federal investigators have been examining components of the train control system as they evaluate what caused the crash.

Air-guitar champs head to battle

Twenty-five of the best air guitarists from across the country were flown to the nation’s capital to compete for the U.S. Air Guitar Championship.

The competition began Friday night at the 9:30 Club. Contestants perform one minute to a song of their choice. Those who make it to round two perform to a surprise song.

All instruments must be invisible and must be a guitar.

The winner will represent the United Sates at the Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland, later this month.



Fifth swine flu death reported

Maryland health officials have reported the state’s fifth death associated with swine flu.

An adult from the D.C. suburbs who had other medical conditions had died.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene declined to release further details about the person.

Department officials said more deaths are expected with swine flu and seasonal flu.


Work begins on City Hall

Repair work began Friday on the marble exterior of Baltimore’s City Hall.

Workers will restore damaged parts of the masonry walls, columns, finials, balustrades and lintels. Marble on the porch ceiling will also be repaired.

Gutters will be cleaned and retrofitted; lanterns and their interior electrical wiring will be refurbished; and damaged bird netting outside the windows will be replaced. Joints and wall cracks will be sealed and waterproofed.

The work is expected to cost $394,000. It is being done by Structural Preservation Systems and is expected to be finished in late December.

The last time major work was done on the 134-year-old building’s exterior was 1975.


No charges in light-rail deaths

Baltimore County police said Friday they won’t file criminal charges in the deaths of two teens who were struck by a light-rail train last month.

Police said an investigation determined that the incident was an accident.

Police spokesman Cpl. Mike Hill said he was not told how the train operator failed to notice the teens walking on the tracks. The train did not stop after the teens were struck.

But Cpl. Hill said investigators interviewed the operator and other witnesses and reviewed surveillance videos before determining that criminal charges were not appropriate.

Jarrett Peterson and Kyle Wankmiller were walking on the tracks when they were struck from behind by a northbound train near the Lutherville station.


Police probe farm worker’s killing

A migrant farm worker was slain in Caroline County during a robbery, police say.

Caroline County Sheriff’s deputies found the man’s body with a gunshot wound Thursday around midnight in the 6400 block of Bell Creek Road, west of Preston. His body was found in a farmhouse used as a home for migrant farm workers.

Police said two men and a woman entered the farmhouse and demanded money. One of the men hit a resident in the face with a handgun. Another man was shot and killed.

The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Baltimore will conduct an autopsy and identify the man.

Authorities said the three suspects ran down a dirt road and fled in a car.



3 pardoned inmates released from prison

Three ex-sailors who received conditional pardons for rape and murder have been released from custody.

Department of Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor said Derek Tice and Danial Williams were released from Sussex State Prison Thursday evening. Joseph Dick was released on Friday.

The three, who along with Eric Wilson were known as the “Norfolk Four,” spent nearly a decade in prison after confessing to the rape and murder of 18-year-old Michelle Moore-Bosko in 1997. They later claimed they were innocent and that their confessions were coerced.

Gov. Tim Kaine granted the three released men conditional pardons Thursday. Though free, the crime remains on their records.

Wilson spent 8 1/2 years in prison for Mrs. Moore-Bosko’s rape and was released in 2005.


1 adult dead in Scout camp blaze

An adult male was killed in a fire that broke out early Friday at a Boy Scout camp in Augusta County.

Virginia State Police Sgt. Les Tyler said the fire started about 4:10 a.m. in a building that houses the Camp Shenandoah trading post and some offices.

Firefighters found the man’s body after the fire was extinguished, he said. No one else was injured. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

There were 107 Scouts and 80 adults at the camp at the time, said Don Ellis, executive director of the Scouts’ Stonewall Jackson Area Council.

The campers were in a Webelos resident camp session, and Mr. Ellis said they were fourth- and fifth-grade boys. All of the adults with the campers were volunteers.

Parents came and picked up their children, and the camp was closed by midday Friday, he said.

“We’re first and foremost concerned about our campers,” Mr. Ellis said.

Sgt. Tyler said police were awaiting confirmation of the victim’s identity from the state medical examiner’s office.


Trust acquires option on battlefield tract

A preservation group plans to buy a 93-acre portion of the Wilderness Battlefield in Spotsylvania County.

The Central Virginia Battlefields Trust said it had acquired an option to buy the tract near the intersection of Virginia Routes 3 and 20. The tract is owned by the Atkins and Link families.

The trust said it would pay $10,000 per acre for the land. The national Civil War Preservation Trust will help the local trust to seek federal and state grants that could help pay for the tract.

Central Virginia Battlefields Trust President Erik Nelson said the land looks much as it did when Union and Confederate troops fought in 1864.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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