A&M Rules Breached in Log Collapse

DALLAS--A Texas A&M official has confirmed that underclassmen were working high on the 40-foot log stack that collapsed last week, a breach of university guidelines.

Rusty Thompson, an administrator who previously served as an adviser in building the bonfire stack, said freshmen and sophomores were on the upper levels of the logs. That violates procedures set out in the 1994 "Bonfire Safety Handbook."

However, Thompson said he felt comfortable with the safety measures that were in place before last week's collapse that killed 12 people and injured 27 others.

"I don't think the fact that there were freshmen or sophomores on the stack was the reason it fell," Thompson said in yesterday's Dallas Morning News. "Something went wrong somewhere within that stack."

About 70 people were preparing the wood tower for the annual bonfire before the university's football game against rival Texas when the pile gave way last week. Eleven A&M students and a recent graduate were killed. Most of the victims were freshmen and sophomores.

Addenda

* Fire swept through a Lynn, Mass., house and killed five people, including three disabled men. Investigators suspected an electrical problem caused the blaze, which apparently broke out before daybreak on the first floor of the two-story house. Authorities said there were no smoke alarms in the house.

* Dozens of rapists, robbers and other felons were paid public money to baby-sit under a Washington state child care program for low-income families. The Department of Social and Health Services said it learned of the problems last week and moved this week to stop the payments to families that had hired 207 relatives or friends with criminal histories. There have been no reports that any children were harmed.

* Three carriage mules that escaped from their barn for a late-night ramble in the French Quarter in New Orleans were corralled soon after one of the animals struck a bus and broke its windshield. No injuries were reported among the 18 passengers on the bus, police said.

* An employee of a nursing home in Sanford, N.C., has been accused of assaulting three residents, allegedly placing feces in the mouth of one. Kaye Bradford Stafford, 29, was held in lieu of $25,000 bail on three counts of assault on a handicapped person at the Convalescent Center of Lee County. The home also faces a $4,000 fine for violations uncovered during an unrelated state inspection in October, according to state records.

* A Minnesota high school has changed its mind and will allow a senior to pose in the yearbook perched on a cannon, but only if a U.S. flag is draped over the barrel. The compromise ended a month-long battle over Samantha Jones's photo, which Nevis High School administrators rejected because it violated their "zero-tolerance" weapons policy.