Blackout Hits Court House Station

Metro riders fumbled in the dark at Court House station yesterday during a power blackout that lasted about an hour. Metro spokeswoman Candace Smith said blown fuses plunged the Orange Line station in Arlington into darkness about 8:54 a.m. There was some minimal emergency lighting in the station, but at least one rider said that the escalators leading into the station were completely dark and that riders were fumbling their way into and out of the station. Some opened cell phones to light a path.

Smith said the station manager stood at the foot of one of the three escalators with a flashlight and tried to guide riders. A supervisor also went to the scene, counting passengers from the mezzanine level because fare gates weren't working, Smith said.

Takoma Station Closed for Weekend

The Takoma Metro station will be closed this holiday weekend because of track work, Metro officials said. Workers will replace a track switch, which enables trains to switch from one track to another. Between 10 tonight and 5 a.m. Tuesday, Metro service will be suspended on the Red Line between the Silver Spring and Fort Totten stations.

Trains will run between Shady Grove and Fort Totten and between Glenmont and Silver Spring, but delays are expected. Metro will operate free shuttle buses between the Fort Totten and Silver Spring stations. An "express" shuttle service will operate between Fort Totten and Silver Spring only. A second shuttle service will provide loop service between the Fort Totten, Takoma and Silver Spring stations. Passengers can board the shuttle buses from Bus Bay D at Fort Totten, bus bays E and F at Takoma and Bus Bay E at Silver Spring.

For more information, go to or call 202-637-7000 or TTY 202-638-3780.

Elephant at Zoo Hobbled by Arthritis

Toni, one of the National Zoo's four Asian elephants, is being treated for chronic arthritis in her legs, a serious condition in elephants that might lead the zoo to euthanize her if her condition continues to deteriorate.

Zoo staff said yesterday that Toni, estimated to be nearing 40, is moving more slowly and experiencing some discomfort. She is being given ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug, and still enjoys eating, interacting with the other elephants and swimming. Elephants in captivity can live 50 to 70 years.

For years, Toni lived alone at a zoo in Scranton, Pa., where she was a popular attraction. She came to the National Zoo in 1989.


Company Sues Over Hospital Decision

The debate over whether to build a new hospital in Loudoun County is going to court.

HCA Inc., which would operate Broadlands Regional Medical Center, has filed a lawsuit challenging the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors' 6-to-3 vote last month denying its application to allow the 164-bed acute-care hospital in Ashburn.

Opponents say that building a hospital on the 57-acre site in Ashburn would increase traffic and noise and create safety problems. Supporters have said that the growing county needs another medical facility in addition to Inova Loudoun Hospital.

Fauquier Tornado Damage Untallied

Officials said yesterday that a tornado that touched down in northern Fauquier County on Tuesday night reached a maximum intensity of F1 on the Fujita scale, the system used to measure a twister's strength.

The tornado, which hit just before 9 p.m., was about 300 yards wide, officials with the National Weather Service said, and was on the ground for about five miles. It damaged 16 homes and destroyed numerous trees in the community of Ada, about 55 miles west of Washington. An estimate of damage remained unknown.

On the scale of F1 to F6, F1 is described as a moderate tornado. N.J. Man Killed in I-66 Crash in Fairfax

A New Jersey man died yesterday morning on Interstate 66 in the Fairfax area when his car suddenly changed lanes and veered in front of another car, Virginia State Police said.

The driver's name was not released pending notification of his family. He was driving a Pontiac Grand Prix east on I-66, just west of Route 50, about 11:30 a.m., Sgt. Terry Licklider said. Witnesses told investigators that from the left middle lane, the Grand Prix suddenly turned left so sharply that it was hit on the side by a 2002 Chrysler 300 in the far left lane.

The man, 80, was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Chrysler, Kielly A. Andrews, 28, of Gainesville, was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital, but her injuries were not serious, Licklider said. Both drivers were wearing seat belts.


Girl Escapes Suspected Abductor

An 11-year-old girl escaped an attempted abduction Wednesday afternoon in Prince George's County as she was walking home from school, police said.

The incident happened in the 4200 block of 21st Avenue in Temple Hills about 3:30 p.m. The sixth-grader was walking home from G. Gardner Shugart Middle School at 2000 Callaway St., according to Kelly Alexander, a schools spokeswoman.

She was approached by a man in his thirties, approximately 5 feet 6 inches tall with a thick build and hair in plaits, police said.

Cpl. Clinton Copeland, a police spokesman, said the man asked the girl for directions and then pulled her toward his car, a small, blue-green four-door vehicle. The girl escaped and was not physically injured, Copeland said.

He added that she apparently was walking home by herself and suggested that children walk in groups or with adults they know.

State Workers' Unions Seek Raises

Unions representing state employees are pushing for a $4,000 pay raise for all workers next year, arguing that employees who suffered when the state was struggling to overcome budget deficits should share in the current financial good times.

Henry Fawell, spokesman for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), said that the budget for next year is in its very early stage and that it is premature to speculate on raises.

"They jammed the phone lines, they jammed the e-mail. We had just an outpouring of people. 'I want to help our vets. They helped us.' Almost everybody used that line."

-- Melodie R. Menke of the District's Armed Forces Retirement Home, on people offering to help veterans displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

More than 250 evacuees began arriving at the facility yesterday. -- B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Lyndsey Layton, Karlyn Barker, Jamie Stockwell, Tom Jackman and Jonathan Abel and the Associated Press.