MARYLAND

Three Die in Montgomery Crash Three Maryland men in their twenties were killed Saturday evening when their car went out of control in the Dawsonville area of upper Montgomery County and smashed into a tree, county police said.

They were identified yesterday as Jose Fernando Jesus Perez, 27, of Ansel Terrace in Germantown, who was driving, and two passengers, Alvaro Marcelo Cardenas, 26, of Ashford Boulevard in Laurel, and Hugo Enrique Urresty, 25, of Curry Ford Lane in Gaithersburg.

County police said the car was heading east on Route 28 about 6:45 p.m. when it crossed the center line and struck the tree, about a half-mile east of Bucklodge Road. Alejandro Urresty, 22, also of the Curry Ford Lane address, was seriously injured and taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, police said. Police said they did not know why the car went out of control.

Teens Escape Halloween Party Fire Dozens of teenagers in Halloween costumes safely escaped a house fire in the Quince Orchard section of Gaithersburg after decorations at a party caught fire and the blaze quickly engulfed the home's basement, officials said.

The Halloween party was well underway at a house in the 12000 block of Fostoria Way in Gaithersburg about 6:30 p.m. Saturday when a candle came in contact with a decoration, sparking a flash fire in the basement, said Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Pete Piringer.

When firefighters arrived, a woman who had been supervising the party was trapped in the basement. She had gone back inside to make sure all the teenagers were out, then tried to extinguish the flames herself. Firefighters got her out of the house and took her to a hospital for treatment of burns to her hands.

No one else was injured.

It took firefighters more than 20 minutes to douse the flames. The family was displaced from the home, which sustained at least $100,000 in damage, Piringer said.

"It could've been a lot worse; it could've been very tragic," he said. "But the smoke alarm did activate, and everyone exited safely."

VIRGINIA

Woodbridge Man Arrested in Shootings A Woodbridge man was arrested in Maine yesterday in connection with two fatal and apparently random shootings in the Bronx, N.Y., police said.

Roberto C. Mayen, 26, was arrested by U.S. Customs Service police when he crossed from the Canadian province of New Brunswick into the United States in a stolen Audi that had been spotted at the two shooting scenes Saturday, according to a New York Police Department incident report.

The first killing in the Bronx that police connected to Mayen happened about 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Commonwealth Avenue and Westchester Street. The driver of a silver Audi pulled up next to a man seated in his parked car, stepped out and fired several shots at him. Joe Robles, 35, of Randall Ave. in the Bronx died at a hospital shortly afterward, according to the report.

About 10 minutes lates, Kleber Valencia, 29, was outside his home on White Plains Road in the Bronx when witnesses reported that the driver of a silver Audi pulled up beside him and fired several shots into his side, killing him, police said.

Police at the Canadian border near Houlton, Maine, let Mayen into Canada at 4 a.m. Sunday but stopped him three hours later after he speed through the checkpoint into Maine without stopping. He was driving a 2001 silver Audi that was reported stolen a day earlier and was bearing Virginia license plates that were issued to Mayen for his 1997 silver Honda. That car was found abandoned in Fort Lee, N.J., police said.

Inside the Audi, police recovered a 9mm Berretta handgun, 9mm ammunition, a cleaning kit for a rifle and three knives. Mayen is awaiting extradition to New York, where he will be charged with two homicides, police there said. Police said there was no indication that the shooter knew his victims.

New York City police commissioner Raymond W. Kelly told the Associated Press that New York police have notified the task force investigating the sniper shootings.

Warner Seeks Help for Farmers Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) is criticizing federal agriculture authorities, who he says are not doing enough to help the state's farmers affected by the drought.

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman on Friday, Warner expressed his disappointment that the department has designated only 10 counties in the central and southern parts of the state as disaster areas.

Warner called on Veneman to act on requests submitted on behalf of 58 localities in which he said growers have documented drought or heat-related crop losses. "Some of these requests were filed on August 6th," Warner said. "Virginia's farmers and their families need relief now."

A spokesman for the Agriculture Department said the agency was reviewing the letter.

Crop losses from the heat and drought that have ravaged Virginia are expected to exceed $200 million. There is no reliable estimate on livestock losses yet.

Feral Hog Hunt Nets 48 Animals The annual feral hog hunt at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park recently netted 48 of the animals, some weighing 130 pounds.

The hunt is intended to thin out the pack of pigs, a nonnative species known as a nuisance because of the damage they cause while rooting in the marshes for food.

"I'd love to see them gone," said John Gallegos, senior biologist at the wildlife refuge. "The hog harvest was one that made me happy."

But not everyone is happy about the hog hunts held on several thousand acres at the refuge and at False Cape State Park.

Members of the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, known as PETA, have expressed unhappiness with the hunt.

Stephanie Boyles, a biologist for the group based in Norfolk, said she worries that the hog population is being maintained for sport. Allowing hunters to shoot pigs reflects a double standard, she said, because "no one would think about going out and shooting" the feral horses that sometimes wander onto the refuge from North Carolina.

European settlers brought the hogs to the area originally, and they were left there when villagers moved away in the mid-1900s.

"To the person who left us a message at the Ponderosa last night. You gave us a telephone number. We do want to talk to you. Call us at the number you provided."

-- Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose,

in appeal to the person who left a message at the scene of

Saturday night's shooting in Ashland. -- Page A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Martin Weil and Petula Dvorak and the Associated Press.