Nation Digest

Nation Digest: California Wildfire Forces Thousands to Evacuate

Residents help Roberto Bombalier evacuate a 2-year-old horse as fire, called "out of control," burns in the Angeles National Forest above Acton, Calif. The horse had not been trained for trailer travel.
Residents help Roberto Bombalier evacuate a 2-year-old horse as fire, called "out of control," burns in the Angeles National Forest above Acton, Calif. The horse had not been trained for trailer travel. (By Jason Redmond -- Associated Press)
Monday, August 31, 2009


Huge Wildfire Forces Thousands to Evacuate

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) said an "out of control" wildfire in the Los Angeles foothills had forced the evacuation of thousands of homes and threatened 12,500 buildings in the heavily populated area.

The fire nearly doubled in size overnight and has now burned 35,000 acres of thick, bone-dry brush in the mountains above five towns, a 10-mile stretch from La Crescenta to Pasadena, the California Fire Department said. About 10,000 homes are under evacuation orders.

"These fires are still totally out of control," Schwarzenegger said at the fire's command post in Lakeview Terrace. "This is a huge and is a very dangerous fire. The fire is moving very close to homes and to structures."

The fires prompted Schwarzenegger to return to California immediately after the funeral on Saturday of his wife's uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), he said.

Three remote homes have been destroyed and about 10,000 others and 2,500 other buildings are in danger, as is Mount Wilson, the nexus for key telecommunications facilities, including TV and radio transmission towers.

The fire that started Wednesday above the exclusive community of La Canada Flintridge is only 5 percent contained, but firefighters may benefit from cooling temperatures. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Widow Touted as Kennedy Successor: The widow of Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy should be considered as an interim appointee to represent Massachusetts, two U.S. senators said. Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) said on CNN's "State of the Union" they could support Kennedy's widow, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, as an interim senator if Massachusetts allows a temporary appointment before a special election. "Vicki ought to be considered," Hatch said. "She's a very brilliant lawyer. She's a very solid individual." Current Massachusetts law requires a special election be held within five months to fill a seat that comes open before the end of a term. Victoria Kennedy has said she's reluctant to serve, but may change her mind after talking with her children and others, Dodd said.

Ga. Slayings Claim Eighth Victim: An eighth person has died in an attack on a Brunswick, Ga., mobile home, police said Sunday. Michael Toler,19, was one of two people critically injured in the attack. The man who reported the gruesome slayings, Guy Heinze Jr., 22, was arrested Saturday and faces charges of lying to police and tampering with evidence. Police said they haven't ruled him out as a suspect in the killings.

Gaddafi Visit Protested at N.J. Rally: More than 200 people gathered in northern New Jersey to tell Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi that he's not welcome in their community. Gov. Jon S. Corzine (D) was among those attending the event Sunday in Englewood, where the Libyan government has been renovating an estate ahead of Gaddafi's first U.S. visit, set for next month. Others who attended the rally included relatives of 38 New Jersey residents killed in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The attack, which killed 270 people, is widely believed to be the work of Libyan intelligence.

Speaking at the rally, Corzine called the Lockerbie bombing a precursor to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, noting that New Jersey and New York suffered disproportionately in both attacks.

Missing Boaters Reunited With Families: Three Texas boaters missing for a week were reunited with their families early Sunday after they were found alive, sitting on top of their capsized catamaran 180 miles from land, the Coast Guard said. The crew of the Affordable Fantasy spotted the men Saturday night off Port Aransas and rescued them from their 23-foot catamaran, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Renee Aiello. The men were identified as Curtis Hall, 28, of Palacios; Tressel Hawkins, 43, of Markham; and James Phillips, 30, of Blessing, who owned the boat.

Shuttle Reaches Space Station: Space shuttle Discovery docked at the international space station Sunday night, delivering a full load of gear and experiments. The linkup occurred as the spacecraft zoomed more than 200 miles above the Atlantic; a thruster failure made the rendezvous more challenging for shuttle commander Rick Sturckow.

-- From News Services

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