`Scary' fire skirts California ranches
Fire roared across at least 27,500 acres of the Los Padres National Forest
Wednesday, turning California countryside into wasteland. "It's one of the worst
fires I've ever fought," said three-year firefighter Mike Gutierrez, 31, as black
plumes of smoke rose 25,000 feet into the air. No structures have been burned
and no one injured, but some nearby celebrity ranchers, including John and Bo
Derek, were corralling horses. The fire - at one point within eight miles of
Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch - was headed away. "It's been pretty scary,"
said former Tonight Show band leader Doc Severinsen. "For awhile we were
right in the line of the fire." As more than 3,200 firefighters battled it, the fire
headed into the San Rafael Wilderness. Hunters admitted their cigarettes started
the fire Saturday.
WACO REPORT: A panel says the commanders of Feb. 28's failed Branch
Davidian raid altered the written assault plans after the raid and tried to conceal
changes from investigators, The Washington Post reports today. The report, out
today, says the plan by the Treasury's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
agents was incomplete.
CITADEL SUIT: Nine Citadel cadets asked a federal judge in Charleston, S.C.,
to allow them to argue against Shannon Faulkner's lawsuit seeking to join the
state-run, all-male military academy. Faulkner, 18, of Powdersville, contends the
single-sex admissions policy is unconstitutional discrimination. "Her pursuit of
her rights is also infringing on mine," said Michael Haro, one of the cadets who
contend they will be adversely affected if women are admitted.
WHEELCHAIR ROBBER: Police arrested Anthony Garafolo, 33, of Holyoke,
Mass., on charges he was the man in a wheelchair who Tuesday robbed the same
Springfield Northeast Savings Bank he robbed three years ago. He became
paralyzed when shot during another robbery in 1991.
JESSICA IS WELL: A child therapist says Baby Jessica, now 2 1/2, is happy in
her new home with her biological parents, Cara and Dan Schmidt, whom she
hadn't lived with since being put up for adoption at birth. Lucy Biven, who
supervised Jessica's transition in August to the Schmidts in Blairstown, Iowa,
from Jan and Roberta DeBoer of Ann Arbor, Mich., said the Schmidts are "good
parents" to Jessica.
HISPANIC GROWTH: A new Census report says Hispanics will number 40.5
million, 13.5% of the population, by 2010 - three years earlier than previous
estimates. The report "signals enormous changes," said Rep. Jose Serrano,
D-N.Y., chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Goals: redistricting for
more political clout and better education and job opportunities for Hispanics.
"We've been arguing this for decades," said Cecilia Munoz of the National
Council of La Raza. "We need to make sure our Latino kids are educated and
that our work force is qualified to take this country into the next century."
AGING PILOTS: Gray-haired pilots packed a Washington, D.C., hearing on
whether to change the FAA's 1959 rule that requires pilots to retire at age 60. A
new FAA study shows pilots are not involved in more accidents as they near
their 60th birthday. David Cronin - forced out at age 60 in 1989 a week after
landing United Flight 811, which had a hole torn into its fuselage in midair over
the Pacific Ocean - says he would return to the cockpit "in a heartbeat."
TILTON QUITS TV: Evangelist Robert Tilton is canceling his TV shows, his
lawyer said. Cited: a drop in monthly donations - to $2 million from $7 million -
after two ABC PrimeTime Live reports in 1991 on Tilton and his Dallas-based
Word of Faith Ministries. Texas authorities last year began an investigation of
Tilton. He has denied wrongdoing.
ALSO WEDNESDAY . . .
OWL PROTECTION: Environmental activists and timber industry supporters
scuffled during opposing demonstrations before a hearing in Salem, Ore., on the
Clinton administration plan to limit logging to protect spotted owls.
PARK PROBLEM: A proposed East Mojave National Park was nearly
downgraded to national monument status as foes of the California
Desert-Protection Act showed strength that could keep the bill bottled up in a
Senate committee. At issue: mining and other competing land uses.
Cuban pilot won't face charges
Cuban civilian airline pilot Carlos Cancio, who put his friends and family on a
flight he diverted to Miami, won't face air piracy charges, U.S. prosecutors said.
"I always had faith that in a country like this, a country of liberty, that justice
would always triumph," Cancio said. Of the 53 people aboard the Dec. 29 flight,
Cancio and his 47 friends and relatives received asylum. U.S. Justice Department
officials said because of "unique facts of the case" no indictment would be
sought. Cancio was lawfully in control of the AeroCaribe aircraft. But advocates
for Haitian asylum-seekers said the case demonstrates a double standard: Cuban
refugees are viewed favorably by the U.S. government while Haitians are not.
Cancio, now a sugar factory worker, has become a hero of Florida's Cuban
community. Contributing: Sandra Sanchez, Lori Sharn, Jonathan T. Lovitt ,
Steve Marshall, Mark Downey and Carrie Ferguson
PHOTO,color,Elaine Thompson,AP; PHOTO,b/w,AP; PHOTO,b/w, USA