`Scary' fire skirts California ranches

  Paul Leavitt


  USA Today


  Page 03A

  (Copyright 1993)


  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.




  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