THE REGION

Fire Grounds Senator's Plane

A tire caught fire on a small private plane with Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) aboard at Dulles International Airport yesterday. Firefighters put out the blaze, and no one was hurt.

Tara Hamilton, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, said the plane was waiting to take off about noon when the fire was discovered. The plane's operator, Hawthorne Aviation, towed the aircraft back to the private aviation center.

THE DISTRICT

'Idol' Audition Traffic Expected

Police are warning pedestrians and motorists to expect increased traffic this week around the Washington Convention Center, where thousands of people are expected to audition for the television show "American Idol."

The auditions will be at the Convention Center on Wednesday, but police expect that candidates might begin to line up as early as tomorrow morning.

Congestion is particularly expected on Seventh and Ninth streets NW between Mount Vernon Place and N Street.

VIRGINIA

Kerry Base to Open in Fairfax

The campaign of Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry is scheduled to open its Northern Virginia headquarters today in Fairfax County, officials said.

State campaign officials, volunteers and politicians are planning to attend the 2 p.m. grand opening of the office at 2722 Merrilee Dr., Suite 310, near a Home Depot on Lee Highway.

Publisher Plans Norfolk Tower

A subsidiary of the company that publishes the Virginian-Pilot newspaper in the Hampton Roads area will create 500 jobs by building an office tower in downtown Norfolk, the newspaper reported yesterday.

Trader Publishing Co. will consolidate more than 1,300 employees from several cities in a downtown Norfolk office tower, the newspaper said.

Trader is owned jointly by Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises Inc. and Norfolk-based Landmark Communications Inc., publisher of the Virginian-Pilot. .

Gas Service Cut Off

Natural gas service was cut off yesterday to about 3,000 homes and businesses in the Haymarket area of Prince William County after a 12-inch main was accidentally cut, a Washington Gas spokesman said.

Repair crews were working through the night, the spokesman said, but it was not clear when service could be restored. He said it was necessary to turn off gas and then turn it on at each of the premises where service was shut down.

MARYLAND

Man Shot, Robbed On Parkway

A Texas man was shot and robbed shortly after midnight yesterday while changing a tire in Anne Arundel County, police said.

William Campbell, 52, of Ennis, Tex., was traveling south on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway near Route 100 when he pulled over to change the flat, police said.

State police said a small car, possibly a dark Honda Accord, stopped behind Campbell's car. Someone got out, shot Campbell in the wrist and robbed him of cash, police said.

Landover Drive-By Wounds 3

Three people were injured in a drive-by shooting early yesterday in Landover, Prince George's police said.

They were in a car stopped at Central Avenue and Brightseat Road at 3:15 a.m. when a light-colored vehicle pulled up alongside, and shots from the vehicle struck an 18-year-old District woman and grazed a 24-year-old Bowie man, police said. The driver, a 27-year-old Suitland woman, was cut by broken glass.

The victims drove themselves to a hospital.

Woman's Body Found in Park

A woman's body was discovered in a Cottage City area park yesterday, Prince George's police said.

The body probably had been at the park for several days, police said. Decomposition prevented police from making an identification yesterday.

The body was found in a wooded area of the park frequented by homeless people, police said. Someone walking in the park discovered it about 300 feet from a bike trail. Police said they hope to learn more from an autopsy.

"A hurricane is a good incentive to do some home improvements that needed to be done anyway."

-- Amy Archibald, a Capitol Hill resident who rented a mechanical snake yesterday afternoon to help unclog drains at her house. -- Page C1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Arielle Levin-Becker, Martin Weil, Clarence Williams and Amit R. Paley and the Associated Press.