Officials Suspect Arson

In Wash. State Wildfire

THORP, Wash. -- A wildfire that destroyed two homes and threatened dozens of others appears to be the work of an arsonist who has set 10 other fires in central Washington state in the past two months, authorities said Saturday.

A state of emergency was declared in Kittitas County as a wind-swept blaze forced the evacuation of dozens of homes in the foothills of the Cascades. Helicopters dropped water, and planes distributed retardant.

"We are investigating this fire as arson," Undersheriff Clayton Myers said. "We believe they are all linked."

Winds gusting as much as 25 mph fanned the flames, forcing the evacuation of about 200 mainly seasonal homes in the eastern foothills Saturday. Myers said the blaze also destroyed a shop as it raced across 300 acres.

Pioneer of Gene Therapy

Is Arrested on Sex Charge

LOS ANGELES -- Gene therapy pioneer William French Anderson was arrested Friday on charges he sexually molested a girl he had coached in karate, authorities said.

Anderson, 67, an internationally prominent University of Southern California scientist, was arrested at his San Marino, Calif., home one day after prosecutors filed a criminal complaint, said Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Authorities said Anderson abused the girl, now 17, at his home from 1997 to 2001.

Bail was set at $6 million, and an arraignment was scheduled for Tuesday.

* MIAMI -- The first tropical depression of the Atlantic hurricane season formed Saturday, and a tropical storm warning was issued for coastal areas of the Carolinas, forecasters said. The depression, which forecasters said could become a tropical storm by Sunday, was centered 175 miles south-southeast of Charleston, S.C. It was moving toward the northwest at about 9 mph.

* NEW YORK -- The former police officer who said he found a flaming backpack that exploded in a Times Square subway station was arrested in connection with the incident. Joseph Rodriguez faces charges of arson, weapons possession and reckless endangerment, police said.

* ANCHORAGE -- Four people heading to a fishing excursion died whsen their plane crashed near the mouth of an Alaska river, authorities said. A Montana family was onboard the Cessna 170, which crashed about 6:15 p.m. Friday near the Kustatan River on the west side of Cook Inlet, about 70 miles southwest of Anchorage.

* POLSON, Mont. -- A 14-foot-high balcony crowded with dozens of people at a popular bar and casino collapsed, injuring at least 70 people, officials said. There were no immediate reports of deaths from the accident Friday night at the Diamond Horseshoe Casino.

* SOMERSET, Pa. -- The national memorial to United Airlines Flight 93, brought down in an open field during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, will carry the theme "A common field one day, a field of honor forever." The theme was set in a mission statement approved Friday by the Flight 93 Federal Advisory Commission, which also recommended preserving about 2,200 acres of the crash site and the surrounding area.

-- From News Services