House Explosion Kills 7 in Iowa

RICHLAND, Iowa--A house exploded during a party yesterday afternoon, killing at least seven people and leaving "just a hole in the ground," the sheriff said.

Six other people were taken to hospitals in Iowa City, and three were in critical condition.

The blast destroyed the ranch-style house and destroyed cars parked in front. Hours after the explosion, light smoke still was coming from the charred debris.

"There's just a hole in the ground," Keokuk County Sheriff Ron George said. "When I got here, the house was gone."

George said the dead were found in the basement. The cause of the explosion was unknown. A propane tank behind the house was still intact.

Tentative Pact Reached In Detroit School Strike

DETROIT--Striking teachers and the school board agreed on a tentative three-year contract, ending a week-long walkout over reforms proposed by a new school district chief hired to fix the city's struggling schools.

Teachers could be back in school by Wednesday, negotiators said.

"I'm going to recommend to the teachers that they accept this contract," Detroit Federation of Teachers President John Elliott said.

Students missed four days of class last week and will miss class again today.

The teachers struck in defiance of state law, and legislative leaders had said they would move to seek sanctions against the teachers today.

The district's chief executive, David Adamany, had said that lawmakers probably would invoke a 1994 law that bars strikes by teachers and fines them one day's pay for each day they strike.

Teachers in the 172,000-student district had been unhappy with proposals for a longer school day, merit pay, class size and other changes proposed by Adamany.

He took the place of the superintendent after the legislature voted in March to replace Detroit's elected school board with one appointed by the mayor. Schools in Detroit, the nation's 10th-largest city, have been beset by mismanagement and chronically low test scores, attendance and graduation rates.

Elliott declined to give any specifics about the contract other than to say it does not include merit pay.

Western Firefighters Take On 2 New Blazes

BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif.--Firefighters battled to control a handful of fires in the West, including two new ones in Oregon and Washington.

Near Big Bear Lake and other popular resorts in the mountains 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles, firefighters were finishing off a 63,486-acre blaze after containing it Saturday night. The fire began Aug. 28 and has cost about $10 million to suppress.

Officials don't expect to have it under control until Friday. The fire has destroyed 19 structures.

About 65 firefighters were trying to contain a 2,500-acre wildfire that broke out Sunday along the Columbia River Gorge in Washington state.

A fire in central Oregon burned nearly 2,000 acres on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. Authorities said the blaze, which began Sunday, was the work of an arsonist. Flames spread quickly through mixed grass and timberland.

Parade Float Accidents Kill Three in New York

NEW YORK--Two 11-year-old children dancing in a parade celebrating Caribbean culture were killed when they were hit by a float behind them.

Hours later, after the parade was over, an 18-year-old man was killed by a float along the parade route. Police did not release details.

In the first incident, Joseph Donn and Zacehel David were dancing behind a float attached to a truck that stopped suddenly. The driver of the next float couldn't stop in time and hit the children, police said.

The driver of the float that stopped suddenly in the afternoon incident was arrested on a charge of driving with a suspended license, police said. Four people, including two 10-year-old children, were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Hundreds of thousands of people from more than 12 island nations lined streets in Brooklyn for the annual West Indian American Carnival Parade.