Donation Sinks Residents' Pool Fees

Public swimming pools in the District will be free to all city residents from now through next summer, officials announced yesterday.

The city dropped fees after receiving a $200,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States Inc.

Most of the 32 pools operated by the Parks and Recreation Department are free to residents. And last month, the city waived fees for anyone younger than 18 at pools that charge daily admission.

Kaiser Permanente also has agreed to replace the filtration system at Banneker Pool in Northwest Washington and sponsor a swim meet.

Williams Gets a Boost on the Web

Young supporters of Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) have started a Web site called to encourage the mayor to run for a third term. The site urges District residents who are happy with Williams's performance to let him know.

"If you agree that Mayor Williams has done a good job and would like to see him continue to take DC down a path of success, creating economic opportunities for small businesses, improving city services and bettering district residents' quality of life, we urge you to let the Mayor know that you want him on the ballot in 2006," the site says.

Williams has said he will decide next month whether he will run for another four-year term.

Child Care Assistance Available

The city's Office of Early Childhood Development has additional slots for subsidized child care in licensed centers and family child-care homes, according to the Department of Human Services.

Child care is available for infants and children ages 6 weeks through 12 years, or until 18 years of age if the child has a disability. Many facilities are open Monday through Sunday, including evenings, overnight and holidays, said administrator Barbara Kamara.

District parents, including those who speak no English, can contact Child Care Services at 202-727-0284 to find out if they are eligible for subsidized services.


Gas Leak Reaches Soil, Stream in Rockville

A Rockville gas station was shut yesterday after gas leaked from an underground pump, authorities said.

Officials from the Maryland Department of the Environment said they were notified about a week ago that the Shell station in the 11800 block of Parklawn Drive had leaked about 20,000 gallons of gas over an undetermined period. They said workers examining the leak yesterday apparently hit a storm sewer line, which released gas into the soil. A small amount made its way to a nearby creek, officials said.

John Myers, an environmental inspector with the department, said the leak probably was caused by a faulty seal in one of the underground pumps that transmits gas to aboveground pumps.

Officials from the Montgomery County fire department examined the leak and said they did not believe it posed a fire hazard. Forest Arnold, a geologist for the state, said it could take years for the gas to completely evaporate from the soil. Authorities said they will monitor the leak.


McLean Mansion Destroyed in Fire

A can of portable cooking fuel ignited a curtain at a mansion in the McLean area, causing a fire that burned for two hours Wednesday and destroyed the house, Fairfax County fire investigators said yesterday.

The fire in the 1200 block of Crest Lane, overlooking George Washington Memorial Parkway, began about 9:40 p.m. in the dining room. The residents had guests and reported the blaze, Fairfax fire spokesman Dan Schmidt said. One of the residents or visitors and one firefighter suffered minor injuries.

Fire marshals estimated the damage to the structure and contents yesterday at $3.1 million and said the house was a total loss. Fire officials would not discuss who owned or lived in the 11,500-square-foot house, and real estate records indicated it was owned by a private limited partnership that owns at least three others on the exclusive street of multimillion-dollar homes. Parking permits in several cars along Crest Lane said the permits were issued to the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, but a spokesman for the embassy said he had no information about the residence.

Speeding Involved in Teenager's Death

A teenage driver who was killed when her sport-utility vehicle flipped on Lee Chapel Road in Fairfax County early Wednesday was speeding, Fairfax police said yesterday, and she was also the only one in the vehicle who was wearing a seat belt.

Jamie "Allie" Grimsley, 18, of the Mason Neck area was driving a 2004 Infiniti SUV about 1:50 a.m., police said. Between Route 123 and the Fairfax County Parkway, the SUV veered off the road, hit a tree and flipped. Three passengers survived.

Grimsley was pronounced dead at the scene. The three passengers were hospitalized with injuries that were not considered life-threatening. Police said yesterday that speed appeared to be a factor in the accident.

Pentagon Defends Oceana Air Station

Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, yesterday released an Aug. 17 letter from acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England reasserting the Pentagon's view that there is "no viable alternative" to Oceana Naval Air Station.

The U.S. Base Realignment and Closure Commission added the master jet base, Virginia Beach's largest employer with about 15,000 workers, to its proposed closure list last month. It will have a public hearing tomorrow. The commission will meet to complete the closure list starting Wednesday.

"The letter from the deputy secretary of defense to me is dispositive," said Warner, who added that he plans to skip the hearing so local officials can answer military concerns that surrounding growth is hampering flight operations.

"One thing's for sure: We can't stop patrolling."

-- Sgt. Thornnie Rouse, a spokesman for the Maryland State Police, on the effects of the rising price of gas on officers. -- B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Tom Jackman, Spencer S. Hsu, Karlyn Barker, Eric M. Weiss and Nancy Trejos.

Firefighters in McLean after a fire destroyed a mansion.