THE DISTRICT

Traffic Restricted Downtown Downtown traffic is restricted at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW near E Street this weekend, the D.C. Department of Transportation has announced.

Vehicles may pass in one lane in each direction on 14th Street and will lose one lane of Pennsylvania Avenue east of the intersection.

MARYLAND

Fire at Kentlands Townhouse Construction workers and neighbors at the scene of a Kentlands townhouse fire yesterday helped avert what could have been a disaster by moving propane tanks away from the blaze, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service said.

Workers noticed that the townhouse, which is under construction in the middle of a row at Helen and Sheila streets near Gaithersburg, was burning just before 4 p.m. and called authorities. Then, with the help of neighbors, they disconnected several propane tanks from heaters inside the townhouses and moved them away from the fire, said Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the fire and rescue service.

It took 65 firefighters 20 minutes to contain the blaze, which caused $125,000 in damage, Piringer said. Investigators determined that a propane-fed heater was left on in the unventilated building, causing combustibles to burn, Piringer said. No injuries were reported.

New Life for Fallen Wye Oak An advisory committee has decided that the remains of the 460-year-old tree that came tumbling down during a June thunderstorm will be returned to the spot where it once stood -- the quiet crossroads at Wye Mills.

The committee decided last week to return the 65-foot-tall Wye Oak trunk to where it had stood for more than four centuries until the storm knocked it down June 6.

Maryland residents offered several suggestions for what to do with the trunk, from turning it into a podium for the governor to making toilet seats for state legislators. Some people wanted to distribute chunks of the tree across the state for educational purposes. But a tribute to the champion tree's home town won out.

VIRGINIA

Falwell's Church to Buy Site The Rev. Jerry Falwell's church has signed a contract to buy a 110-acre industrial site in Lynchburg and move the church and its many other interests there.

Thomas Road Baptist Church signed the deal last week to buy the land and an 888,000-square-foot complex for $10.2 million. The sale is expected to close next year.

Falwell told the Lynchburg News & Advance that he plans to move the church, the Lynchburg Christian Academy, the Liberty Bible Institute and other operations to property on Candlers Mountain Road. The property is adjacent to the campus of Liberty University, which Falwell founded, and he said the property not devoted to the church and the schools will be made available to the university.

Architects and engineers have been inside the building to plan how to renovate it and turn it into a sanctuary and classrooms. There is no timetable for when the work will begin on the complex or when it will be ready to be occupied.

Cousteau Society Office Moving The Cousteau Society plans to move its U.S. headquarters from Chesapeake to the Hampton downtown waterfront, providing the city a tourist attraction that could draw 40,000 visitors a year, a city official said.

"What's wonderful about all of this is that Hampton is getting a new tourist attraction at no cost to the city," said June McPartland, the city's director of retail development.

After several years of shrinking its 17-person staff in Chesapeake to eight, the Cousteau Society is relocating its remaining staff to a smaller location at the Hampton Visitor Center downtown.

The Paris-based society will lease 756 square feet on the second and third floors. The first floor, a 1,500-square-foot commons area, will be used to showcase the society's worldwide undersea expeditions, a rotating photography exhibit and continuously running films and television programs about the group's missions. Plans also call for a Cousteau retail store that will sell books, videos and gold and silver nautical jewelry.

The Cousteau Society is a not-for-profit society founded in 1973 by Capt. Jacques Cousteau, who made the underwater seas a place to explore with the co-invention of the Aqua-Lung, a breathing apparatus.

"Parking your patrol car on the block and walking up and down, knocking on doors -- that's just so Flintstones. It makes no sense to do that anymore when you can talk to 2,000 people online at once."

-- D.C. police Lt. Keith Roch, commenting on the efforts of police officers and community watchdogs to tap the Internet more as a way to keep in touch with citizens and broadcast certain types of crime information. -- Page C3

Compiled from reports by staff writers Spencer S. Hsu and Michael Amon and the Associated Press.