Phone Outage Delays Dulles Passengers

A disruption in telephone service yesterday at Dulles International Airport knocked out computers used by the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, slowing the processing of passengers arriving on international flights.

At least one British Airways plane sat on the tarmac for about an hour before airport officials would allow the passengers into the terminal, where long lines snaked around the customs checkpoints.

Barry Morrissey, spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, said the loss of computers slows, but does not stop, the processing of passengers. Verizon spokesman Harry Mitchell said about 5,000 customers, including Dulles, were affected by an outage in long-distance service starting about 1 p.m. and ending by 6:30 p.m. The cause of the outage was not known, he said.


Teenager Shot in Wheaton Confrontation

A 17-year-old was shot and seriously wounded last night after a confrontation in Montgomery County, county police said.

The youth was standing near a fast-food restaurant at Veirs Mill and Randolph roads in Wheaton when a man, believed to be 18, approached and shot him, authorities said.

The injured teenager, whose name was not released, was driven to the Wheaton Metro station and then taken to a hospital, where he was listed in stable condition. Police said they did not know the reason for the confrontation.

Golf Cart Injures Two at Rockville Club

Two people were injured Saturday evening when they were struck by a slow-moving golf cart at Norbeck Country Club in Rockville, fire officials said yesterday.

Oscar A. Garcia Jr., a Montgomery County fire captain, said the cart struck a 7-year-old girl, who was airlifted to Children's Hospital with back pain, and a 15-year-old girl, who was taken to Montgomery General Hospital for a possible back injury.

Garcia said neither suffered life-threatening injuries in the accident, which occurred about 7:30 p.m. on the golf course. No one was charged in the incident, police said.

Liquid Oxygen Leak Closes Bethesda ER

The emergency room at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda was closed briefly Saturday night after a 1,000-gallon tank of liquid oxygen leaked, creating a patch of potentially hazardous fog outside the hospital, fire officials said yesterday.

No one was reported injured, authorities said. Ambulances were routed to other hospitals as emergency workers secured the area about 10:40 p.m. and contacted a private company that had filled the tank hours earlier.

Oscar A. Garcia Jr., a Montgomery County fire captain, said two side streets were sealed off while firefighters used equipment to disperse the patch of fog. Liquid oxygen can act as an accelerant, creating a hazardous situation if near a lighted cigarette or match, Garcia said.

By 11:30 p.m., a crew from the private company Air Products and Chemicals closed the valve and the emergency room and streets were reopened.

Jail Addition to House Female Inmates

The Worcester County Jail is planning a $17 million expansion to accommodate an increase in its female inmate population.

"When we opened [in 1982], we saw very few incarcerated females," said Rita Lawson, an assistant warden. "That's certainly not the case anymore."

The work will be partially funded by the Maryland Board of Public Works, which has paid $660,000 for the design of the additions. Ira Shockley, the jail's warden, said blueprints could be ready by January.

Several cellblock additions have tripled the jail's capacity since it was built.

Last week, about 300 inmates filled the jail to capacity, Shockley said. But he said the jail's kitchen, designed to feed fewer than 100 people at a time, has not been expanded. On weekends, family members line up outside the visiting room, which has eight booths. Medical facilities also haven't been expanded, officials said.

Prisons and jails across the country have had to adjust to growing female populations since the 1980s. The jail in Snow Hill, which houses every person taken into custody in the county, has ridden the same trend as other areas.

Federal and state efforts to crack down on crime have prompted significant spending on jails in Maryland. Del. Norman H. Conway (D-Wicomico) said Maryland authorized $65 million in prison construction this year.


No Arrests in Series of Fires in Southeast

No arrests have been made in a series of fires that were allegedly set late Friday and early Saturday in the easternmost corner of the District, D.C. fire officials said yesterday.

About 12 blazes, most concentrated in an abandoned public housing complex known as East Capitol Dwellings, burned in trash receptacles and stairwells. In at least one case, fire consumed much of the interior of a building in the 100 block of 57th Place SE. None of the fires caused injury.

Alan Etter, spokesman for D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, said investigators say the fires might be linked, though they don't know whether the blazes are connected to the city's plans to demolish East Capitol Dwellings and rebuild it as a mixed-income community.

Anyone with information about the fires is asked to call the D.C. Arson Task Force tip line at 866-91-ARSON (866-912-7766).

"It's just a matter of time before we have big fires here. They're building them right on top of each other."

-- Peter J. Michel, Fairfax County fire and rescue official, on the danger of suburban houses being built close together. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Scott Higham, Lyndsey Layton, Allan Lengel, Martin Weil and Debbi Wilgoren and the Associated Press.