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Sunday, February 1, 2009

All Guardsmen in Ky. Called to Ice Storm Duty

MAYFIELD, Ky. -- Gov. Steve Beshear called up his entire National Guard on Saturday, with his state reeling from a deadly ice storm that knocked out power from the Midwest to the East Coast.

More than half a million homes and businesses, most of them in Kentucky, remained without electricity from the Ozarks through Appalachia, though temperatures creeping into the 40s helped utility workers make headway.

Finding fuel -- heating oil, gas for cars and generators -- was a struggle for those trying to tough it out at home, with hospitals and other essential services getting priority.

The addition of 3,000 soldiers and airmen means 4,600 guardsmen have been pressed into service. It's the largest call-up in Kentucky history, which Beshear called an appropriate response to a storm that cut power to more than 600,000 people, the state's largest outage on record.

Many people in rural areas cannot get out of their driveways because of debris and have no phone service, the governor said.

"We're concerned about the lives and the safety of our people in their own homes," Beshear said, "and we need the manpower in some of the rural areas to go door-to-door . . . and make sure they're okay."

The storm, which began in the Midwest, has been blamed or suspected in at least 42 deaths.

4 More Arsons Near Philadelphia

COATESVILLE, Pa. -- Authorities said four arson fires reported early Saturday "share a commonality" with other intentionally set blazes that have plagued this area outside Philadelphia, but they wouldn't say whether they were connected. Coatesville has been hit with more than 30 suspicious fires over the past year. No injuries were reported in Saturday's fires.

Steelworkers Extend Talks

HOUSTON -- The United Steelworkers Union said Saturday it would extend by 24 hours talks for a new labor contract for refinery workers, delaying a possible strike that could affect over half of U.S. refining capacity. A spokesman for lead refiner negotiator Shell Oil Co. had no comment. The existing contract was set to expire Sunday morning shortly after midnight.

-- From News Services


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