- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 22, 2009

Acid-truck crash forces evacuation

WIND GAP, Pa. | A tractor-trailer carrying a dangerous acid overturned on a highway Saturday, prompting authorities to order thousands of residents to leave town for almost nine hours.

The tanker, carrying 33,000 pounds of corrosive hydrofluoric acid, a component in household detergents, flipped over at about 3 a.m. on the edge of Wind Gap, about 60 miles north of Philadelphia.

At 7 a.m., officials ordered an evacuation of 944 households. They said about 5,000 people were in the affected area.

Northampton County spokesman John Conklin said the truck driver was treated at a hospital and was released. One of about 200 people at an evacuation center at a local high school was taken to a hospital for a condition unrelated to the hazardous-materials incident.

Emergency crews reported liquid dripping from the tanker’s valves or piping, forcing them to return in full protection suits to stop the drip. The tanker truck was righted at about 3:10 p.m., and the evacuation order was lifted soon after, although the road remained closed in both directions.

Hydrofluoric acid, even in low doses, can irritate the eyes, nose and respiratory tract, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Cardinal asks for end of raids

CHICAGO | The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is calling on the White House to end immigration raids that split up families.

Cardinal Francis George spoke Saturday at an immigrants rights rally at a northwest Chicago church. His comments were greeted by cheers from the hundreds gathered.

Without naming President Obama, Cardinal George said the current administration can fulfill its promises of change by working toward immigration reform. The raids are part of stepped-up federal enforcement targeting illegal immigrants. Cardinal George says stopping the raids would show the administration’s sincerity to voters in the immigrant community.

The rally was part of a 17-city series of meetings organized by advocates of changes to U.S. immigration policy.

Dinosaur skeleton fails to sell

NEW YORK | A New York gallery says a 150-million-year-old complete skeleton of a dinosaur has failed to sell at auction.

Josh Chait of I.M. Chait Gallery/Auctioneers says two museums interested in the fossil failed to meet the minimum price of nearly $300,000 during the auction Saturday. He declined to identify the two parties.

Mr. Chait says the gallery is still trying to broker a deal to sell the 9-foot-long dryosaurus fossil to a museum. Dryosauruses were two-footed, plant-eating creatures.

The auction also included the 7-foot-tall complete skeleton of a 20,000-year-old, juvenile wooly mammoth, and the fossilized skeleton of 20-foot-long marine lizard. Unidentified private collectors bought the mammoth fossil for $55,000 and the lizard fossil for $67,000

Fireman accused in fatal arson

NEW YORK | A volunteer firefighter was charged Saturday with setting a fire that ripped through a crowded apartment house, killing a woman and three of her children.

Caleb Lacey, 19, a volunteer member of the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department, set the fire at a neighbor’s apartment house as a staged rescue attempt that went awry, said Nassau County homicide detective Lt. John Azzata.

“The suspected motive is what arson experts call ‘hero’ or ‘vanity’ - to be the savior and appear to have saved individuals,” he said.

Mr. Lacey faces one count of arson and four counts of second-degree murder in the Feb. 19 blaze in the Long Island town of Lawrence. He was arrested Friday.

Police said Mr. Lacey poured gasoline into the building’s only staircase and set the fire, then returned to the fire department headquarters. When the call came in, Mr. Lacey “was one of the first responders on the firetruck,” said Lt. Azzata.

Authorities said the fire blocked the main escape route from the building. Killed in the blaze were Morena Vanegas, 46; daughters Susanna Vanegas, 9, and Andrea Vanegas, 13; and son Saul Presa, 19. Eight other residents, including Vanegas’ two other children and their father, escaped through windows.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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