Family Escapes Home Toddlers Set Ablaze

Two young children and their mother barely escaped their burning Laytonsville home Saturday after the children set the family room furniture on fire while playing with a barbecue lighter.

Capt. John Rooney, of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, said the children--a 3-year-old and an 18-month-old--were playing in the family room while their mother was in a back bedroom of the ranch-style home Saturday afternoon. The 3-year-old girl came into the bedroom to tell her mother that her fingers were burned. When the woman came out to investigate, she found the family room ablaze.

She grabbed her two children and escaped the home. She was treated at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital for second- and third-degree burns to her head and released. The children were uninjured. Damage to the home is estimated at $40,000.

Bone-Marrow Drive Draws Overflow Crowd

More than 2,300 people showed up for a bone-marrow testing drive in Salisbury this weekend to help an 11-year-old girl with acute myeloid leukemia.

"I have children, and I would want someone to do this for them," said Teresa Parsons, of Delmar, as she waited to be tested.

Ginger Lasley was told she had the disease Oct. 20. She needs a transplant, but no family member was a suitable match. The family turned to the community for help.

Volunteers were so overwhelmed by the turnout Saturday, they had to ask people to return yesterday. In all, 2,350 people showed up.

"It's the biggest drive we've ever had. It not only helps Ginger, but all this testing could help thousands around the world," said Sandy Mortensen, Eastern Seaboard coordinator for the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

Joan Keller, headquarters director of the Louisiana-based American Bone Marrow Donor Registry, said it was the largest for her organization.

Organizers of yesterday's drive also hoped to find a match for Adam Travatello, 17, of Salisbury, whose human T-cell leukemia was diagnosed in June. He was admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital on Wednesday after a relapse. He also needs a bone-marrow transplant.

Ginger's father, Jay Lasley, said the turnout was "heartwarming to the point of being overwhelming."

Potential donors had a simple blood test to determine their HLA (human leucocyte antigen) type. HLAs are genetic markers found on white blood cells. To be a donor, six primary antigens must match. The average odds of an unrelated match are one in 20,000, Keller said.


Blaze Heavily Damages McLean House

A McLean house was heavily damaged Saturday night by a fire that broke out in the garage. Fire and rescue units were summoned to the house in the 1300 block of Merrie Ridge Road at 5 p.m. and found the garage and the floor above ablaze.

One adult and four children fled the house unharmed before firefighters arrived. Damage is estimated at $500,000, a fire department spokesman said. He said the cause is under investigation.

State Set to Receive Tobacco Payout

The state has finalized its acceptance of the $206 billion national tobacco settlement, clearing the way for payments to begin nationwide, Attorney General Mark L. Earley said.

The first payouts under the landmark settlement, reached last year to fend off a rash of state lawsuits seeking to recover costs of treating ill smokers, could be made before the end of the year, Earley said.

The national tobacco settlement announced in November 1998 had required states representing at least 80 percent of the proceeds from the settlement to sign on, and Virginia's inclusion cleared that threshold, state officials said. Under the settlement, negotiated with more than 40 state attorneys general, the tobacco companies agreed to pay $206 billion to the states through 2025. Virginia is slated to receive $4 billion under the settlement.

According to a spokesman for the National Association of Attorneys General, seven states--Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, New Jersey, Tennessee and Pennsylvania--have not finalized their agreements to participate in the settlement.

Virginia Tech Cracks Down on Sweatshops

Virginia Tech has agreed to crack down on vendors of college merchandise that comes from factories with poor conditions for workers.

Beginning July 1, licensed Tech vendors will be required to disclose the location of factories that make Tech products. A code of conduct covering safety, abuse and wages at the factories also will be enacted. A spokesman for Students Against Sweatshops at Virginia Tech says the Blacksburg school is the first in Virginia to adopt such a code.

Pilot Released From Hospital After Crash

The pilot of a single-engine plane that crashed at Fayette Airport in West Virginia over the weekend was released from an Oak Hill hospital yesterday.

The Cessna, which took off from Blacksburg, Va., overshot the runway while attempting to land about 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Pilot Keith Wannamaker of Raleigh, N.C., tried to pull the plane back into the air, but it struck a tree and slammed into the ground, Sheriff Larry Dotson said.

Wannamaker was released from Plateau Medical Center, a nursing supervisor said. Passenger Edward Matson was listed in good condition at Plateau Medical Center, and Colin Baker, another passenger, was in satisfactory condition at Charleston Area Medical Center.

Drought-Hit Counties to Get State Aid

The state will help drought-stricken counties in southwestern Virginia buy and haul water from wetter areas, a state emergency official said.

Financial terms will be decided on a case-by-case basis, said Michael Cline, state emergency services coordinator.

For several months, local governments have been asking Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R) to look into reimbursing localities for costs related to providing water.

"We have spent about $50,000 so far, and that's conservative," said B.L. Ratliff, Dickenson County administrator. "We'll take anything they give us. We can't help this situation."


"I'm cleaning a mess that I inherited that has been going on for years. ... This time next year, if I've got the same problem, it's me."

--Ernestine F. Jones, court-appointed receiver for the District's Child and Family Services department, speaking about efforts to sort out the department's foster care operations.

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