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Digest

Fire crews try to hold huge California blaze

By TIMES WIRES
Published September 29, 2006


LOCKWOOD VALLEY, Calif. - Crews dug firelines and reinforced others on the northwestern edge of a wildfire that crept toward hundreds of homes in California on Thursday.

The fire moved slowly, feeding on dense stands of pine and thickets of chaparral, sumac and manzanita in the Los Padres National Forest, where the blaze has burned 159,281 acres, or nearly 249 square miles, northwest of Los Angeles since Labor Day.

"We're pretty optimistic. We're getting some lines around the fire. It's starting to look pretty good," said Ventura County fire Battalion Chief Bryan Vanden Bossche. "This is one of the days we've had the least amount of (fire) activity."

Dozens of fire engines continued to guard homes in the mountain communities.

Authorities continued to recommend evacuation of Lockwood Valley and nearby communities, although many people chose to remain.

Elsewhere...

CORPSE THEFTS: In New York, a former funeral parlor owner and embalmer accused in a plot to plunder corpses for profit admitted to investigators last year that he and his partner rarely got permission to take body parts for transplants, according to court documents. The documents detail a long statement given by Joseph Nicelli before he was charged in a plot to secretly remove skin, bone and other parts from hundreds of bodies from funeral homes in New York, Philadelphia and New Jersey.

DRAGGING DEATH: In Castle Rock, Colo., a judge refused Thursday to impose a gag order in the case of a man accused of dragging his girlfriend to death behind a vehicle, despite defense claims that heavy publicity could prevent a fair trial. Mexican immigrant Jose Luis Rubi-Nava, 36, is charged with murder and kidnapping in the slaying of Luz Marie Franco Fierros, 49. Her battered and disfigured body was found Sept. 18 about 20 miles south of Denver.

[Last modified September 29, 2006, 01:28:53]


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