Wildfire advances on San Diego suburb

A wall of flames dozens of feet high advanced on a hillside community near San Diego on Thursday, threatening to destroy upscale houses as eight other major blazes burned in Southern California, keeping thousands of people out of their homes.

Video news footage showed the rapidly moving wildfire scorching trees and brush on hilly terrain. At least one house in San Marcos, 30 miles north of San Diego, was burned to its wooden struts and a recreational vehicle reduced to a metal shell.

Bright orange flames twisted in the wind, sending thick columns of smoke aloft and blacking out the sky.

Fire engines with emergency lights flashing moved along the winding streets of the neighborhood of large Spanish-style homes.

The destructive cluster of fires comes as California enters its peak fire season in the midst of its worst drought in decades, setting the stage for what state officials worry could be a particularly intense and dangerous year.

The nine blazes raging in the San Diego environs have destroyed more than 10,000 acres, and evacuation notices have been sent to areas that are home to 125,000 residents since the first blaze broke out on Tuesday, county officials said.

— Reuters

Fla. workers test negative for MERS

All of the health-care workers who came into contact with a patient in Florida who was suffering from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome have tested negative for the often-deadly virus, state health officials said Thursday.

The patient, who is hospitalized in Orlando, is the second confirmed MERS case in the United States.

The Florida Department of Health said in a statement that the man is improving but remains hospitalized at the Dr. P. Phillips Hospital. The patient initially spent 12 hours in the hospital’s emergency department before he was moved to an isolation room, raising concerns about whether health-care workers who had contact with him may have become infected.

MERS causes coughing, fever and sometimes fatal pneumonia, killing an estimated 30 percent of those who are infected.

— Reuters

Weather disrupts Miami air travel

Severe weather in Miami spawned one confirmed tornado Thursday and was disrupting air travel.

The National Weather Service reported a tornado briefly touched ground at about
2:30 p.m. one mile west of Miami International Airport. A second funnel cloud was spotted about 20 minutes later. There were no immediate reports of damage.

Authorities have canceled all tornado warnings, but no planes were taking off or landing at Miami International Airport due to poor visibility.

Airport spokeswoman Maria Levrant said dozens of flights have been delayed and at least four have been canceled.

— Associated Press

Media file suit over execution secrecy

The Associated Press and four other news organizations filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the secret way in which Missouri obtains the drugs it uses in lethal injections, arguing the state’s actions prohibit public oversight of the death penalty.

The lawsuit asks a state court judge to order the Missouri Department of Corrections to disclose where it purchases drugs used to carry out executions along with details about the composition and quality of those drugs.

A spokeswoman for Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, Nanci Gonder, declined to comment about the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed in Cole County Circuit Court in Jefferson City by the AP; Guardian US, the British newspaper’s New York-based American operation; The Kansas City Star, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Springfield News-Leader.

— Associated Press

10,000 gallons of oil sprayed on L.A. buildings: A geyser of oil sprayed onto buildings and puddled in knee-high pools of crude in Los Angeles streets after a valve on a high-pressure pipeline failed early Thursday. About 10,000 gallons of oil spewed 20 feet high over approximately half a mile of the industrial area of Atwater Village at about 12:15 a.m., fire officials said. Four commercial businesses near the border of Glendale were affected, as well as a strip club that was evacuated after oil came through air vents. The parking lot was closed and patrons and employees were forced to leave behind their crude-coated cars.

— From news services