A Dec. 14 Metro in Brief item incorrectly described how Charles O'Banion was hurt in a house fire in the 8700 block of Nightingale Court in Lanham and the extent of his injuries. He was burned while trying to escape the blaze, and he was treated for minor injuries and released from Washington Hospital Center. (Published 03/22/2000)

VIRGINIA

Bomb Scare Shuts Down Metro Station

The Eisenhower Avenue station on Metro's Yellow Line was closed for more than an hour during the evening rush last night after a bomb-sniffing dog indicated that a suspicious package in a nearby parking lot might contain explosives.

The Virginia State Police bomb unit checked out the package and found it to be harmless, Capt. Geoffrey Hunter of the Metro transit police said. The package was discovered at 5:05 p.m. in the parking lot of the Hoffman Center, 2034 Eisenhower Ave., Hunter said.

While officers waited for the state police bomb unit, Metro closed the Eisenhower Avenue station shortly after 5:30 p.m., allowing trains to pass through but not stop. Passengers who needed to exit at Eisenhower Avenue were instructed to get off at the Huntington or King Street stations, and Metro bused them back to Eisenhower Avenue, Hunter said. The station was reopened at 6:50 p.m., Hunter said.

Cracked Gas Line Leads to Evacuation

More than 24 people were evacuated yesterday for about two hours from their homes in the Burke area after a construction crew cracked a large natural gas line near the Fairfax County Parkway.

The break occurred shortly before 10 a.m. along Burke Lake Road just north of the parkway, according to Lt. Lorenzo Thrower, of the Fairfax County fire and rescue department. Thrower said the construction crew was drilling in preparation for laying pipe or cable when it struck a 10-inch natural gas line, sending fumes through the area.

Firefighters visited 35 homes in the Burke Lake Estates area, Thrower said, and removed about 25 people from the neighborhood. Washington Gas crews responded, found the leak and clamped it, and residents were allowed to return to their homes about noon, Thrower said.

U-Va. Favors Some Minorities, Study Finds

Black and Hispanic applicants inside and outside Virginia have a better chance of being admitted to the University of Virginia than Asian and non-Hispanic white students with similar qualifications, according to a new study by the Center for Equal Opportunity.

The Washington-based think tank had issued a report in January that said U-Va. showed a strong preference for black and Hispanic applicants, but school officials questioned the study's methodology and argued that the study did not take into account the university's preference for in-state applicants.

Linda Chavez, president of the think tank, said the new study found that the ethnic preferences occur in the case of both in-state and out-of-state applicants. U-Va. spokeswoman Louise Dudley said she had not seen the center's latest report and could not comment on it.

THE DISTRICT

Auction Draws 400 Bargain-Hunters

Bargain-hunters cleaned house--literally--at an auction of former Howard University president James Edward Cheek's belongings, an auctioneer said yesterday.

Within eight hours of the auction's start Saturday, some 800 items Cheek left at his former residence were gone. "We had 400 people come through the house," auctioneer Ronald Evans said.

The most intense bidding was for a water-color painting by L. Mailou Jones that went for $7,250, Evans said. "I must've had 40 people bidding for that alone."

The auction generated about $30,000, which will help offset Cheek's $1.8 million bankruptcy settlement with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and other creditors. Other big ticket items included a large model train collection valued at $10,000 that went to a children's foundation for $1,500. Evans said an Egyptian chess board made from ivory sold for $500; a professional pool table, for about $1,000; and a 250-gallon aquarium, for about $300.

Cheek, Howard's second-longest serving president, filed for bankruptcy after the FDIC charged him with negligence for his role in the failure of United National Bank.

MARYLAND

Hospital Argues for Accreditation

A delegation from Shady Grove Adventist Hospital appeared at a hearing in Chicago yesterday to appeal a national hospital quality agency's move to revoke its accreditation over patient care errors and management failures.

In a private proceeding that was scheduled for four hours but lasted all day, officials from the Rockville hospital presented their case to a three-member appeal panel for the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Accreditation is crucial to a hospital's financial stability as well as its clinical reputation.

The appeal panel will make recommendations to the joint commission's accreditation committee, which could decide the matter at its monthly meeting today or at its next session in January.

Water Main Still Being Repaired

Repairs to University Boulevard, the scene of a broken water main yesterday, were not expected to be done before midnight, a spokeswoman for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission said yesterday.

WSSC crews completed some repairs to the 14-inch cast-iron pipe about 8 a.m. yesterday, and eastbound lanes of University Boulevard between Georgia and Arcola avenues were opened by 1:30 p.m.

But westbound lanes, which authorities promised to repair by 6:30 p.m. were still closed last night.

Spokeswoman Marjorie Johnson said she could not explain last night's delay, which snarled traffic. And Johnson said she didn't know what caused Sunday's water main break.

"I can't foresee any problem that would cause us to be there in the morning, barring something happening to the pipeline," she said.

Lanham Man, 55, Critically Burned

A 55-year-old Lanham man was critically burned yesterday when he tried to smother a small fire with his hands and feet, Prince George's County fire officials said.

The fire ignited about 8:30 a.m. in a second-floor bedroom of a house in the 8700 block of Nightingale Drive in Lanham, said Capt. Mark Brady, spokesman for the Prince George's fire department.

The man, whose name was not released, tried to put out the blaze by tossing burning material out the window and by stomping the flames with his feet, Brady said. The fire caused about $10,000 in damage, Brady said. Investigators suspect it was accidentally started by a careless smoker, he said. The injured man was taken to Washington Hospital Center, where he was listed in critical condition.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"You can't get away from the fact that there's a racial issue here. . . . Is it racist? We have to figure that out. Can you be a benign racist? I don't think so."

-- Ray Bryant, director of Montgomery County's special education program, about the fact that black students labeled "emotionally disturbed" are more likely to be bused to Mark Twain, a special school, while their white contemporaries are more likely to go to their neighborhood schools.