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Nation in brief

Thousands of acres burn across West; firefighters die

By Times Wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 27, 2003

PHOENIX - A helicopter dropping off a crew of elite firefighters crashed Saturday morning, killing two people and seriously injuring two other crew members, officials said.

The contract helicopter was taking a crew from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to begin an initial attack on a fire in the Aspen Ridge area, said Margo Whitt, a fire information officer. Four people were on board when the helicopter crashed about 175 miles northeast of Phoenix.

On Friday, a helicopter pilot was killed when his aircraft crashed while fighting a wildfire in northeastern Washington state. Randall Harmon, 44, of Grants Pass, Ore., was the only occupant of the helicopter, which went down on the Colville Indian Reservation, said fire spokesman Nick Mickel.

The fire Harmon was fighting had burned about 2,200 acres and was 70 percent contained Saturday, authorities said. Federal and state investigators were expected at the scene Saturday and Sunday.

In Montana, firefighters bulldozed an old road Saturday in an effort to protect the town and the Glacier National Park headquarters complex from a spreading wildfire.

West Glacier will be evacuated if the fire moves to within three miles of town, fire information officer Andy Williams said. The town has some 250 permanent residents and grows to about 400 in summer.

The fire had about a mile to go before reaching that trigger point, Williams said.

About 1,000 people were evacuated in Southern California's Riverside County, where about 200 homes were considered in danger after a fire quickly burned more than 4,300 acres, moving along rocky canyon ridges in the San Jacinto area.

In nearby Kern County, an 1,200-acre blaze spread into Sequoia National Forest but was heading away from groves of the forest's famed giant redwood trees.

In north-central Washington, a 64,000-acre blaze was four to six miles west of Loomis State Forest and could continue to burn - eventually charring up to 190,000 acres - until heavy rain or early snow, authorities estimated.

Both the Loomis fire in Washington and Montana's Glacier fire were heading toward Canada. The Loomis fire was within four miles of the border and U.S. fire managers have met with their Canadian counterparts to discuss strategy should the blaze cross into British Columbia.

Firefighters in Montana were doing much of their work by hand because Glacier officials were determined not to let mechanized equipment run roughshod over the park's fragile landscape.

Fire specialists and other state and federal officials have told Montana Gov. Judy Martz that the state should brace for a wildfire season worse than 2000, when about 1-million acres burned.

3,000 gather to mourn philanthropic family

ATLANTA - For years, George and Jean Brumley threw themselves into charitable works around Atlanta as determinedly as they shunned public acclaim for their deeds.

The community's gratitude poured forth Saturday as an estimated 3,000 mourners gathered in memory of the retired pediatrics chief and his philanthropist wife, who died July 19 in Kenya in a plane crash that also took the lives of 10 other family members and the two pilots.

The mourners overflowed the main sanctuary of Trinity Presbyterian Church in the upscale Buckhead neighborhood to commemorate a family that only in death became known to much of the city, despite a broad range of its beneficiaries, from poor children to the city's symphony.

200 turn out to celebrate slain N.Y. councilman's life

NEW YORK - More than 200 people promised on Saturday to continue the antiurban violence campaign championed by city Councilman James Davis, praising the slain politician for his life and work.

"James Davis fought against guns, toy guns, he fought against romanticizing and glorifying violence," said political activist Al Sharpton, who is scheduled to deliver the eulogy at Davis's funeral Tuesday. "This is the community outpouring to show that we loved him and that we are committed to the Stop the Violence campaign."

Davis, 41, was killed Wednesday when a political opponent shot him in the council chambers at City Hall. A police officer killed the gunman.

Miners return to scene of Pa. coal mine rescue

SOMERSET, Pa. - The Quecreek Mine is "hallowed ground," former Gov. Mark Schweiker said Saturday as he returned to the spot where nine coal miners were brought to the surface after being trapped underground for three days.

Today is the first anniversary of the day that rescuers finally drilled a hole into the mine, which had been flooded by water from an abandoned, adjacent mine. Through that narrow shaft, the miners were pulled to the surface the next morning one at a time in a small rescue capsule.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has declared Monday as National Coal Mine Safety Awareness Day. It starts a two-week program of mine safety education for miners across the country.

Demonstrators continue nun's missile silo protest

MISSILE SITE M-11, Colo. - Hundreds of demonstrators Saturday fanned out across parts of Colorado and Nebraska to carry on the work of pacifist nuns sentenced to prison for their antiwar protest at a missile silo.

Religious and political activists targeted the Minuteman III site, known as M-11, about 140 miles northeast of Denver - one of 49 silo sites in Colorado - to pray, sing, dance, beat drums and hang an eviction notice. Officials said protesters also gathered at three missile sites in Nebraska.

Jackie Hudson, 68, Ardeth Platte, 66, and Carol Gilbert, 55, were convicted in April of obstructing the national defense and damaging government property for cutting a fence and walking onto a Minuteman III silo site, swinging hammers and using their blood to paint a cross on the structure.

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