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Investigators question teens in Colo. wildfire



Published: Sat, April 27, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Investigators questionteens in Colo. wildfire

BAILEY, Colo. -- Authorities have questioned three teen-age boys as they investigate the cause of a 2,500-acre wildfire that has threatened homes in the foothill town.

The blaze was 35 percent contained Friday as light rain sprinkled the area and crews worked to build fire lines, but officials feared more wind could slow the fight. About 150 homes remained evacuated.

"They're making excellent progress. They're way ahead of their expectations," fire operations chief Mike Rieser said.

The boys being questioned were seen running from a ridge behind the high school when the fire started Tuesday, said Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener. Smokers often gather on the ridge.

"We're looking into the possibility that they were ditching a class at the time," Wegener said.

Winds whipped the fires across tinder-dry brush and trees to within a quarter-mile of downtown in the community of 4,400 people about 35 miles southwest of Denver.

The National Weather Service said there was a chance of mountain snowfall Friday night and today, but the weather was expected to dry out again by Sunday.

Engineer: I was blindedby sun before crash

PLACENTIA, Calif. -- The engineer of a freight train that plowed head-on into a passenger train was blinded by the sun and didn't see a yellow light warning him to slow down before the deadly crash, police said Friday.

According to a report by Officer Kelly Kenehan, the engineer "told me he could not see the signal. [Engineer Darrell] Wells said that the sun was very bright."

Kenehan was the first officer to interview Wells after Tuesday's crash between the Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train and a crowded Metrolink passenger train. Two people were killed and more than 150 injured.

Wells, 48, told Kenehan he could not "distinguish the colors" of the yellow light, but he started to throttle back the train and slowed it to 40 or 42 mph "until he was able to see the next signal to determine the speed he should be traveling at."

"As Wells began to slow ... and saw that he had two solid red signal lights, at that time Wells knew he would not be able to stop in time and he and [conductor Dean E.] Tacoronte were going to collide with the Metrolink train," the report said.

Blake posts bailfor jailed bodyguard

LOS ANGELES -- Robert Blake posted $1 million bail for bodyguard Earle Caldwell, who was jailed on a charge of conspiring to kill the "Baretta" star's wife, the actor's lawyer said Friday.

"He's an employee and a friend, and Robert felt responsible for him," attorney Harland Braun said.

Braun said Blake posted $1 million in cash rather than use a bail bondsman who would have been paid a fee.

"It was a business decision," the attorney said, claiming that "California law requires an employer to stand behind an employee on any criminal charge arising from the employment."

He said Caldwell, 46, was released from the Los Angeles County men's jail early Friday. Caldwell, whose legal defense is also being paid by Blake, was not available for immediate comment.

Caldwell and Blake have pleaded innocent.

Blake, 68, is charged with murder, conspiracy and solicitation to murder his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, who was shot to death May 4, 2001. She was the mother of their daughter, Rose Lenore Sophie, who will turn 2 in June. He married her just months earlier because of the child.

5th term for Heston?

RENO, Nev. -- Charlton Heston said he is not ready to give up his position as president of the National Rifle Association and an NRA spokesman said Friday he expects no challengers in Heston's bid for an unprecedented fifth term.

Heston told The Associated Press after addressing members at the 131st annual meeting in Reno he has been encouraged by their continued support for his leadership.

"As long as I don't screw it up completely, I suppose I'll keep coming back," Heston said.

NRA members elect a national board of directors today. The more than 70 board directors vote Monday on a president.

The current board of directors recently requested unanimously that Heston run for re-election.

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said he did not foresee any challengers to Heston.

"If the board of directors supports him unanimously, why would anyone else run?" he said.

NRA members said they were relieved to hear Heston would seek a fifth term. The 78-year-old actor said he had intended not to run last year, but was asked to stay.

Associated Press




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