Some wildfire evacuees allowed to go home

Several thousand suburban San Diego residents forced to flee a wildfire threatening their towns were allowed to return home Friday as firefighters battled for a third day against a swarm of blazes burning in and around California’s second-largest city.

Meanwhile, investigators worked to determine whether an unusually early and intense outbreak of wildfires in Southern California this week was ignited by something as ordinary as sparks from cars or something as sinister as an arsonist.

State fire officials said the first of at least 10 blazes that erupted between Tuesday and Thursday was found to have been caused by a spark from malfunctioning construction equipment.

All together, the wildfires have raced through an estimated 20,000 acres about 30 miles north of San Diego, causing more than $20 million in damage. One burned body was found in an encampment of homeless people. At least eight houses and an 18-unit condominium complex were destroyed.

— From news services

Police commissioner asked to quit over Obama slur

Political leaders in a New Hampshire town have officially joined residents in demanding the resignation of a police commissioner who uttered a racial slur about President Obama.

Wolfeboro Town Manager David Owen posted a message Friday on the town’s Web site calling on Robert Copeland to resign the post to which he was reelected in March. State and local officials say they’ve received complaints from as far away as California from people upset about the comments, some of whom have threatened to cancel vacations to New Hampshire. Wolfeboro is a predominantly white resort town of 6,300 on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee.

A resident said she overheard Copeland, 82, use a slur in a restaurant in March and wrote to the town manager. Copeland, in an e-mail to her, acknowledged using the slur in referring to the president and said he will not apologize.

“I believe I did use the ‘N’ word in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse,” Copeland said in an e-mail to his fellow police commissioners. “For this, I do not apologize — he meets and exceeds my criteria for such.”

— Associated Press

Fire chief sought in murder arrested: A former California fire battalion chief who eluded authorities for more than two weeks has been arrested in the stabbing death of his girlfriend, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office said Friday. Orville “Moe” Fleming, 55, had been wanted since the body of Sarah June Douglas, 26, was found May 1 in the south Sacramento home they had shared.

— From news services