MARYLAND

Body Found After Mount Rainier Fire

A man was found dead last night after an apartment fire in Mount Rainier, authorities said.

The fire broke out shortly before 8:30 p.m. and was confined to a bedroom of a first-floor unit in the Queen's Manor Garden Apartments in the 4600 block of 29th Street, said Capt. Mark Brady, spokesman for the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department.

After quickly extinguishing the blaze, firefighters searched the bedroom and discovered a body, Brady said. The identity of the man was not immediately released.

The cause of the fire, which resulted in about $5,000 worth of damage to the apartment, was under investigation, Brady said.

Oxon Hill Blaze Displaces Tenants

Eighteen apartments in an Oxon Hill apartment complex were declared uninhabitable after a two-alarm fire caused about $150,000 in damage, fire officials said.

Residents displaced from two buildings in the Oxon Hill Village complex were moved to vacant apartments in the complex. As of yesterday, fire officials had not determined the cause of the Saturday night blaze.

In an unrelated fire in the Oxon Hill area, a blaze at Mike's Restaurant and Liquor Store, in the 5400 block of Indian Head Highway, left the establishment with about $20,000 in damage said.

That fire, which appears to have started early yesterday on the exterior of the building, is also under investigation, fire officials said.

Family Terrorized, Robbed in Home

Harford County police are investigating a home invasion and robbery during which thieves beat and locked up a 62-year-old woman and her two grandsons. The thieves then stole jewelry and $12,000.

Three men forced their way Friday into the Abingdon home of Wendy and John Zhang, where their two children were being looked after by the boys' 62-year-old grandmother, state police said.

The intruders covered the heads of the woman and her 5-year-old grandson with plastic bags. They locked the boy and his 8-month-old brother in the basement.

The three men, one of whom brandished a knife, ordered the woman upstairs, where they punched her in the face repeatedly and then locked her in a closet, according to Sgt. William Vogt, of the Bel Air barracks of the Maryland State Police.

The Zhangs own two restaurants, one in Edgewood, the other in Harford County.

"It seems like the robbers followed people home from the restaurant to find out where they lived, then returned to rob them," Vogt said.

Another member of the family discovered the victims when he returned home from school Friday.

Vogt said that the robbery appeared similar to other home invasions in Baltimore County targeting the owners of Chinese restaurants.

VIRGINIA

Republicans Lining Up for Bateman Seat

The race to succeed Republican Rep. Herbert H. Bateman, who is retiring from his seat representing much of eastern Virginia, already has attracted one Republican state lawmaker, and another legislator and a state Cabinet secretary are considering a run, party activists said.

No Democrats have announced their candidacy for the seat, which Bateman has held since 1983.

Del. Jo Ann S. Davis (R-York), 49, who is just starting her second term in the General Assembly, announced recently that she will run.

State Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City), 53, had been leaning against a bid but now says he is likely to run.

Former Newport News mayor Barry DuVal, 40, Gov. James S. Gilmore III's secretary of commerce and trade, also is planning to enter the race.

The 1st District Republican Committee will meet Friday in Williamsburg to decide whether to nominate a candidate at a party convention or through a primary.

"I think it's going to be pretty close, one way or the other," said Roger Pogge, 1st District chairman.

THE DISTRICT

Public School Workers Back Strike

Unionized D.C. public school custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and maintenance workers voted yesterday to strike but gave school officials until Friday to consider their demands.

Members of Teamsters Locals 730 and 639, which represent most of the workers, voted 470 to 4 in favor of the strike, which could affect as many as 1,700 school employees.

The walkout initially was scheduled to begin tomorrow, said Rick Dade, president of the Local 730 chapter. If union demands are not met by Friday, Teamsters officials said, members will decide at a meeting scheduled for Saturday whether to begin a strike the following work week.

Demands include a $1,700 bonus that Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) recently gave some city employees, as well as a $100 bonus and 3.7 percent and 3.8 percent wage increases. Blue-collar school workers have not received a raise since 1996, Dade said.

"We're demanding the money we're entitled to . . . that is owed to us because we're entitled to parity with other city workers," Dade said.

School Superintendent Arlene Ackerman told the Associated Press that she is trying to obtain the $1,700 bonuses for school employees, but she said there are no funds to meet the union's other demands.

If a significant number of union workers do not to report to work, she said, the system has contingency plans to keep the schools open.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"His election told me . . . that regardless of your background and the color of your skin, that if you can commit yourself to excellence and not drown in self-pity, that things once considered unimaginable are still possible."

-- Del. Paul C. Harris (R-Charlottesville), on L. Douglas Wilder's win of the Virginia governorship 10 years ago.