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Fire is now Oregon's largest in century

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 11, 2002


GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- The nation's largest active wildfire grew to 333,890 acres Saturday, making it Oregon's largest wildfire in a century.

GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- The nation's largest active wildfire grew to 333,890 acres Saturday, making it Oregon's largest wildfire in a century.

Fire crews worked against gusty winds and steep terrain to secure a containment line around the southeastern portion of the wildfire. The fire was spotting along part of the line, said Mike Ferris, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

The blaze in southwestern Oregon and northern California is larger than a 1933 fire that burned 311,000 acres. National forests weren't managed until the U.S. Forest Service was established in the 1890s.

A voluntary evacuation remained in effect Saturday at the southern tip of the fire in Gasquet, Calif., which has about 800 people. The fire was about 25 percent contained.

SAN DIEGO: California's largest wildfire, which has burned 61,550 acres northeast of San Diego, was nearly surrounded Saturday. The blaze destroyed at least 35 homes since July 29, but was not threatening homes Saturday, the state Department of Forestry said.

NATIONWIDE: The National Fire Information Center reports 5-million acres have burned in the country this year. U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth said the fires have cost $325-million to fight.

U.S. seeks rehearing on pledge decision

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department argued Friday that a three-judge appeals panel ignored Supreme Court rulings when it found that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional.

Government attorneys asked for a hearing before all 11 judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to reconsider its earlier, 2-1, ruling.

In court documents filed Friday, the government said the Supreme Court has already determined that the words "under God" in the pledge are among "many ceremonial references to our religious heritage and do not establish a religious faith."

The Justice Department also argued that Michael Newdow, who brought the case on behalf of his daughter, did not have the legal standing to do so because he does not have custody of the child.

Fuel system malfunctions, hampers Phoenix flights

PHOENIX -- Hundreds of travelers faced delayed and canceled flights to all parts of the nation Saturday because the airplane fueling system serving all airlines at Sky Harbor International Airport stopped working for two hours.

The system delivers jet fuel through underground pipelines to the gates at all three of Sky Harbor's terminals, said Suzanne Luber, spokeswoman for the nation's fifth busiest airport.

"Delays are between a half-hour and an hour, and there aren't delays for every flight," Luber said.

An estimated 150 flights and 1,500 passengers were affected. A dozen flights were canceled.

Mistrial declared in DUI accountability case

SALEM, N.J. -- A criminal trial that drew national attention to the responsibility of friends who let friends drive drunk ended with a mistrial Friday after the jury could only agree one count: innocent on the most serious charge of manslaughter.

The judge declared a mistrial on all three charges, and the prosecutor later said he would seek to retry Kenneth Powell on only the two charges the jury had deadlocked on, vehicular homicide and death by automobile.

The case against Powell was believed to be the first in which someone with no direct involvement in a drunken driving crash was charged criminally for it.

Also . . .

BUS YARD SHOOTER: A school bus driver who killed a co-worker and injured three others after opening fire at a bus yard was sentenced Friday in San Jose, Calif., to 35 years to life in prison. Cathline Repunte, 37, has never said what prompted her to shoot at fellow Laidlaw Transit Inc. workers on April 23, 2001.

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