March 18th, 2013
07:35 PM ET

Fire that destroyed dozens of cabins in Tennessee is contained

[Update 7:35 p.m.] Heavy rain has brought the wildfire in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, under control, the state's emergency management agency says.

The fire is contained to about 5 acres, and all crews have been sent home except for about eight people who will monitor hot spots, the agency told CNN affiliate WATE.

[Original post, 12:57 a.m] The National Guard will fly in two helicopters Monday to help battle a massive wildfire that has damaged more than 30 cabins in Pigeon Forge, a mountain resort city in Tennessee.

While the state Emergency Management Agency had not received reports of casualties, the fire prompted the evacuation of about 150 people.

The area is home to rental cabins with some permanent residences

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Fire • Tennessee • U.S.
Central Florida wildfire scorches 1,900 acres
The brush fire burned more than 24 structures -- 10 of them homes -- in central Florida's Marion County, authorities said.
March 3rd, 2013
10:00 PM ET

Central Florida wildfire scorches 1,900 acres

A wildfire jumped a road in central Florida, scorching homes and wiping out trees as it charred more than 1,900 acres, a fire official said Sunday.

Some 24 structures in Marion County had been burned by what's being called the Hopkins Prairie Fire, said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Susan Blake. Ten of those buildings were homes, according to a tweet from the National Weather Service.

The blaze around Ocala National Forest was 80% contained as of early Sunday evening, Blake added. About 100 local, state and federal firefighters were on site.

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Filed under: Fire • Florida
March 2nd, 2013
10:20 PM ET

Florida brush fire prompts evacuation of 300 homes

A fast-moving brush fire near Daytona Beach forced the evacuation of 300 homes and spread to 1,000 acres Saturday, Greg Dunn of the Florida Forest Service said.

Interstate 95 in Volusia County was closed in both directions because of the fire and poor visibility, said Sgt. Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol.

Thick smoke rose from the fast-moving fire, which was being fueled by high winds and low humidity, Dunn said, adding he expects the same conditions Sunday.

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Filed under: Fire • Florida • U.S.
November 24th, 2012
03:22 PM ET

4 injured in fire at U.S. State Department

Four people were injured Saturday after a flash fire broke out in the ductwork of the State Department building in Washington, fire officials said.

One person was in a "life-threatening condition" and two others were in serious but non-life threatening condition at Washington Hospital Center, authorities said. The fourth person fell from a ladder and hurt his knee.

The fire broke out after 11 a.m., as construction crews were working on the premises, and was extinguished on short order, said Lon Walls, a spokesman for Washington's fire department.

FULL STORY
September 6th, 2012
10:27 AM ET

Baby black bear healing after being burned in wildfire, officials say

Could Boo Boo be the next Smokey Bear?

Idaho officials say the popularity of a baby black bear given the name Boo Boo, who was rescued after being burned in a wildfire, may help remind people of the wide consequences of wildfires.

"People from all over the country have asked after the bear," Idaho Fish and Game conservation educator Evin Oneale said. "Many have asked about contributing money to offset the cub's medical treatment costs."

Boo Boo was brought to the Idaho Humane society after firefighters found him last week while battling the Mustang Complex Fire that has scorched more than 250,000 acres in Idaho.

“He’s healing nicely,” Dr. Jeff Rosenthal, Director of the Idaho Humane Society said. “His pads and toes are no longer bleeding and new skin is already forming on the burned portions.”

Officials said the bear, which weighed 23 pounds when they first rescued it, is expected to make a full recovery. And Boo Boo is starting to act more like you'd expect of a black bear.

“Eating like a little pig, very feisty, and not very social,” Rosenthal said. “He charges the cage front whenever anyone gets near, trying to scare us off.”

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Filed under: Fire • Idaho
June 11th, 2012
11:23 AM ET

As northern Colorado blaze grows, a look at the dangers of wildfires

A sprawling wildfire in northern Colorado nearly doubled in size again Monday, spewing plumes of smoke and forcing the evacuation of thousands.

The fire grew to 36,930 acres, authorities said Monday. It had been estimated at 20,000 acres Sunday night.

The Red Cross, Humane Society and other aid groups mobilized to help evacuees while at least 400 firefighters, aided by air tankers and helicopters from as far away as Canada battled the fire about 15 miles west of Fort Collins, Colorado.

As wildfire season flares up, here's a look at how some of these dangerous events start and how much damage they've caused in the past:

About Wildfires:

    • Wildfires are sometimes called "wildland fires."

 

    • Wildfires can originate from a dropped match, cigarette embers, campfires, exhaust sparks from a train, or arson.

 

    • Many wildland fires are ignited by lightning.

 

    • There are no official rules, but the first responders usually name a fire after a meadow, creek, city, or type of plant they see.

 

    • Wind, temperature, and humidity all influence wildfires. Strong winds push flames toward new fuel sources. Wind can pick up and transfer burning embers and sparks, starting "spot fires."

 

    • During the day, sunlight heats the ground and warm air rises, allowing hot air currents to travel up sloped landscapes. At night, the ground cools and air currents travel down the slopes.

 

    • Humidity dampens fuel, slowing the spread of flames. Humidity is greater at night, so fires usually burn less intensely then.

 

    • Large fires can create their own winds and weather, increasing their flow of oxygen.

 

    • A really large fire can generate hurricane-force winds, up to 120 mph. The high temperatures preheat fuels in the fire's path, preparing them to burn more readily.

 

A look at the number of past fires, damage caused

Year                                       Number of fires                  Acres burned          

2000                                       92,250                                        7,393,493

2001                                       84,079                                        3,570,911

2002                                       73,457                                        7,184,712

2003                                       63,629                                        3,960,842

2004                                       65,461                                        8,097,880*

2005                                       66,753                                        8,689,389

2006                                       96,385                                        9,873,745

2007                                      85,705                                        9,328,045

2008                                      78,979                                        5,292,468

2009                                      78,792                                        5,921,786

2010                                      71,971                                        3,422,724

* 2004 fires and acres do not include state lands for North Carolina

Source: The National Interagency Fire Center

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Filed under: Colorado • Fire
Tombstone takes water fight to canyons, Capitol Hill
Members of the Tombstone Shovel Brigade climbed two miles up a steep canyon to repair a 26-mile water pipeline.
June 8th, 2012
09:12 PM ET

Tombstone takes water fight to canyons, Capitol Hill

Tombstone, Arizona (CNN) – Under an unforgiving desert sun, about 60 determined souls gathered in a high school football field under the banner of the Tombstone Shovel Brigade. They collected shovels and joined a pickup truck caravan across the desert. Then they climbed two miles up a steep, rocky canyon and began to move part of a mountain, one boulder at a time.

Thousands of miles away, in the nation’s capital, Tombstone’s congressman and the city archivist tried to move a bureaucratic mountain, too, during hearings before a subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Tombstone, as CNN has reported, is in the midst of a court battle with the U.S. Forest Service. At issue is whether Tombstone can take heavy equipment into federally protected wilderness.

Tombstone is trying to repair a 26-mile pipeline that has brought mountain spring water into the city since 1881. The pipeline was damaged during last summer’s Monument Fire and floods that brought mud and boulders crashing down the denuded mountainside.

The city sued the Forest Service in December, accusing the agency of dragging its feet during a state of emergency. The courts have turned down the city’s request for an emergency injunction, and so the battle has entered a new phase in the court of public opinion.

Frustrated with the slow pace of the repairs, Tombstone’s supporters created the nonprofit Tombstone Shovel Brigade a couple of months ago. They are helped by the organizers of the Jarbidge Shovel Brigade, which used volunteer muscle power to move a boulder and reopen a mountain road on federal wilderness in 2000.

Tombstone has become the poster city for a sweeping resurgence of the Sagebrush Rebellion in some Western states. This time, Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory explained, the rebellion is not fueled by oilmen and cattle ranchers.

Instead, local governments are behind the movement to push back against what they say is the federal government’s treatment of them as “submissive subdivisions.”

U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake has introduced H.R. 5971, the Emergency Water Supply Restoration Act, which proposes to set aside Forest Service restrictions against the use of construction equipment during state-declared water emergencies. Flake and Nancy Sosa, the city’s archivist, were among the witnesses who testified Friday.

“The unforeseen consequences of federal laws and regulations threaten to do something outlaws, economic busts, and the Arizona desert couldn’t: Kill the town too tough to die,” Flake said. Tombstone, population 1,400, is a throwback to the Old West and is famous for the 30-second gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which is re-enacted for tourists twice a day.

“Without water, the most precious commodity in the desert, Tombstone will cease to exist,” Sosa said. She told the committee that Tombstone burned to the ground twice before the waterline was built.

CNN will have more on this developing story Saturday.

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Filed under: Arizona • Congress • Courts • Environment • Fire • Flooding • U.S. • Weather
Gotta Watch: Dangerous jobs
Calling all alligator hunters - the state of Texas needs you!
May 2nd, 2012
08:41 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Dangerous jobs

There are some men and women who don't fear danger or even risking their lives at work. For some, the adrenaline rush of pushing themselves to the edge keeps their jobs interesting and rewarding.  CNN.com has collected video of some of these risk-takers putting their lives on the line. Watch as an alligator hunter, firefighter and window washer are caught in precarious positions that will put a chill up your spine.

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Need a job? Texas needs gator hunters

Texas officials say the state needs more alligator hunters to provide his or her services.

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Fireman: Roof under him 'just dropped'

A life and death moment for Michigan fighters caught on tape, as a roof collapsed under them. WXYZ reports.

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Window washer saved from fall

A Seattle man is safe on the ground after hanging from a building. KOMO reports.

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Filed under: Alligators • Animals • Fire • Gotta Watch • Michigan • Survivor Stories • Texas • U.S. • Washington state
April 24th, 2012
09:38 AM ET

Canada sawmill blast kills 1, injures 23

[Updated at 12:28 p.m. ET] An explosion at a sawmill in western Canada has killed one person and injured 23 others, officials said Tuesday.

The blast happened in Prince George, British Columbia.

Ten people remained hospitalized Tuesday morning. Another 13 had been treated and released, according to a statement from University Hospital of Northern British Columbia.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Canada • Fire
April 9th, 2012
10:17 AM ET

2 Philadelphia firefighters killed in wall collapse

Two Philadelphia firefighters died early Monday and three others were injured when the wall of a building collapsed as they battled a five-alarm fire, officials said.

The collapse occurred about 5:50 a.m. as the five were inside a furniture store, said Deputy Fire Commissioner Ernest Hargett Jr.

Four of the firefighters were trapped inside, he said, but the fifth was able to get free. Firefighters were forced to move brick and timber by hand and cut through some materials to rescue the others, Hargett said.

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Filed under: Fire • Pennsylvania
January 29th, 2012
05:46 PM ET

Peru's health minister vows crackdown in wake of deadly rehab fire

Peruvian Health Minister Alberto Tejada visited Sunday surviving victims of a fire at a rehabilitation center, promising to crack down on treatment facilities that operate "outside the law."

Twenty-seven people were killed and others were wounded when a fire broke out Saturday at the Christ is Love center in Lima.

"You can supervise someone who has formally asked for permission to operate rehabilitation centers, but you're limited in how you can supervise someone who is hiding," Tejada said.

Speaking at a hospital, the minister called for severe sanctions against those responsible for running Christ is Love, which operated "outside the law," he said. Tejada did not specify what laws the facility violated.

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Filed under: Fire • Peru
January 8th, 2012
03:39 PM ET

1 dead, 9 injured in Chicago high-rise fire

One person died and nine others, including two firefighters, were injured in a fire early Sunday in a Chicago high-rise, according to the city's fire department.

The body of the 32-year-old resident, who lived on the 12th floor, was found in an open elevator, said Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford.

The elevator had superheated air, which could have been up to 1,000 degrees "at head level where she was," Langford said.

Firefighters received a call just after 2 a.m. Sunday about a fire on the 12th floor of the building. In the apartment where the fire broke out, the resident left the door open hoping their pets would escape, which caused the hallway to fill with smoke and fire, he said.

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Filed under: Fire • Illinois
November 21st, 2011
12:32 PM ET

Fire chief: Reno wildfire contained

Firefighters in Nevada have fully contained a wildfire that engulfed dozens of homes and burned nearly 2,000 acres, an incident commander said Monday.

The Caughlin Fire in Reno burned 1,935 acres before firefighters contained the blaze, said Sierra Fire Protection District Chief Mike Brown, the incident commander.

The blaze has made 32 homes uninhabitable and damaged five, but is no longer a major threat to other structures, Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez said Sunday.

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Filed under: Fire • Natural Disasters • Nevada • U.S.
On the Radar: Texas fire, Wall Street protest, Halloween costumes
A firefighter works among the rubble of a Bastrop County, Texas, home in September.
October 5th, 2011
06:01 AM ET

On the Radar: Texas fire, Wall Street protest, Halloween costumes

Three things you need to know today.

Texas fire: Firefighters in Bastrop County, Texas, continue to battle on Wednesday a blaze that sprang up Tuesday near where fire destroyed more than 1,500 homes in September.

About 1,000 acres were burning with multiple street evacuations, according to Sissy Jones, spokeswoman with the Bastrop County sheriff's office.

"We have had to evacuate 30 homes in the area," John Nichols, public information officer with the Texas Forest Service, told CNN. A highway in the area was closed because of the fire, he added.

The area that was burning is in the northeast portion of the county near the town of McDade, Texas. The cause of the fire was unknown, authorities said.

Wall Street protest: Labor unions were poised Wednesday to join the Occupy Wall Street protest as similar demonstrations were springing up outside New York City.

"These young people on Wall Street are giving voice to many of the problems that working people in America have been confronting over the last several years," Larry Hanley, international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which has 20,000 member in the New York area, told CNN.

Transport Workers Union Local 100 spokesman Jim Gannon said the Occupy Wall Street movement, which denounces social inequities in the financial system and draws inspiration from the Arab Spring revolutions in Africa and the Middle East, has advanced issues that unions typically support.

Meanwhile, a Twitter account called Occupy Boston mentions a city-wide college walkout there Wednesday. The Massachusetts Nurses Association says "hundreds" of the city's nurses will rally with the Occupy Boston protestors on Wednesday. The Nurses Association says the protest will be part of the opening day activities for a national nursing convention being held in Boston.

Halloween costumes: Charlie Sheen, the former star of TV's "Two and a Half Men" who was fired from the popular sitcom earlier this year, is the most popular Halloween costume for 2011, CNNMoney reports.

Top choices for women include Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Snooki from the "Jersey Shore," the report says, citing figures from Spirit Halloween, the country's largest seasonal Halloween retailer.

As for kids' costumes, expect to be seeing a lot of Angry Birds on your doorstep on Halloween night, the report says.

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Filed under: Charlie Sheen • Fire • Halloween • Holidays • Natural Disasters • On the Radar • Protest • Showbiz • Texas
On the Radar: Possible N. Korea defectors, Minnesota fire, Thailand floods
A Japanese patrol craft tows a boat that allegedly carried nine North Koreans to Japanese waters.
September 14th, 2011
05:40 AM ET

On the Radar: Possible N. Korea defectors, Minnesota fire, Thailand floods

Three things you need to know today.

North Korea defectors: Nine possible North Korean defectors who sailed to Japan were moved to a refugee facility in the southern part of the country Wednesday afternoon, according to government officials.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujiwara said the nine people would be temporarily held at an immigration facility. Earlier in the day, Fujiwara disputed local reports that they would be sent to South Korea.

The small wooden boat carrying nine men, women and children onboard claiming they were from North Korea was spotted off Japan's western coast Tuesday morning.

A fisherman saw the boat drifting about 25 kilometers (15 miles) off the coast of Noto peninsula of Ishikawa prefecture and reported it to authorities.

It is rare for North Korean defectors to sail to Japan's coast. According to coast guard records, there have been only two other cases.

Minnesota fire: A wildfire in a northeast Minnesota woodland grew by nearly tenfold Tuesday, giving off a pall of smoke that stretched from the Canadian border to southern Wisconsin.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton called in National Guard helicopters to assist firefighters as the Pagami Creek fire, in the remote Superior National Forest, spread from about 11,000 acres on Monday to more than 100,000 by Tuesday afternoon, said Doug Anderson, a spokesman for the firefighting effort.

The blaze started in mid-August after a lightning strike, but jumped about 16 miles eastward on Monday - "unprecedented for northern Minnesota," said Lisa Radosevich-Craig, another spokeswoman for the fire command.

No injuries were reported and no buildings had been destroyed, but 36 homes in the nearby community of Isabella were evacuated as a precaution, she said.

Thailand floods: Heavy rains  and flooding have killed at least 87 people in Thailand in recent months, local authorities said.

The deaths occurred between July 29 and September 12, according to the Interior Ministry.

Flooding is still affecting 16 provinces, with Phichit   in the north among the hardest-hit.

Twenty-three people died in  Phichit province, mostly from drowning, according to officials.

September 9th, 2011
12:19 PM ET

Lt. governor: Texas needs disaster declaration from Obama

Texas needs an immediate disaster declaration from President Barack Obama allowing access to heavy equipment and other assistance to help battle wildfires burning across the state, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said.

The White House has not responded to the state's previous request, Dewhurst contends, and "we need help yesterday."

There was no immediate response from the White House.

A disaster declaration would give the state access to heavy equipment, personnel, supplies and other support that would help it respond after nearly 300 consecutive days of wildfires, Dewhurst said.

Obama has approved a limited disaster declaration for fires in April and May.

"But this problem has been ongoing since January," Dewhurst said. "And if anything it's gotten worse."

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Fire • Texas
September 6th, 2011
09:30 AM ET

Texans flee wildfire through road of flames

As the sun set on an airport hotel parking lot in Austin, Texas, Roger Cosby needed to tell his story.

He had just witnessed a sight that many Texans are battling a devastating wildfire.

The state's largest blaze, a massive, uncontained fire in Bastrop County near Austin, has scorched some 25,000 acres, destroyed at least 470 homes and forced about 5,000 residents to evacuate.

That wildfire on Sunday was near the house Cosby shares with his companion of nine years, Cindy Boyd.

Cosby was taking a nap, while Boyd was working in their shop, making decorative plates.

Then Boyd smelled smoke.

"Roger, we have to go now, we have to go now," Cosby recalls Boyd saying as she woke him.

The Bastrop home that Boyd has lived in for 26 years was on fire.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Fire • Natural Disasters • Texas
September 5th, 2011
08:50 PM ET

California fire threatens 800 homes

A fire caused by a plane crash threatened 800 homes or structures in Tehachapi, California, on Monday, with nearly 5,000 acres ablaze in rugged terrain, according to state and local officials.

Six hundred firefighters were on the scene trying to corral the 4,759-acre fire.

A relief center has been set up at Jacobsen Junior High School in Tehachapi for evacuees.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: California • Fire
On the Radar: Texas fire, Clemens' trial, Casey Anthony
Firefighters say they've achieve 50% containment on a blaze that has burned 6,200 acres.
September 2nd, 2011
05:47 AM ET

On the Radar: Texas fire, Clemens' trial, Casey Anthony

Three things you need to know today.

Texas fire: Authorities were working on plans Friday to return home residents forced to flee a wildfire in northern Texas, a day after firefighters made progress battling the blaze that destroyed dozens of homes.

The blaze in Palo Pinto County scorched 6,200 acres by Thursday, according to the Texas Forest Service. The fire is burning near the resort of Possum Kingdom Lake, near the town of Brad, about 100 miles west of Dallas.

"We feel much better about this fire today" as the blaze is now 50% contained, said John Nichols, a spokesman for the Forest Service.

He said evacuations were lifted for some residents forced to evacuate the fire, which was driven by high temperatures and dry winds.

Clemens' trial: A judge will hold a hearing Friday to consider whether former Major League pitcher Roger Clemens should be retried for allegedly lying to Congress.

The case against Clemens - who is accused of one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury - was declared a mistrial in July after evidence previously ruled inadmissable was shown in court.

U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton will consider how to resolve the case at Friday's hearing in Washington.

Casey Anthony: Casey Anthony's attorneys will be in court Friday fighting a motion by prosecutors to have her  reimburse the costs of  the investigation of her daughter's disappearance  and death.

Court documents filed by the state attorney's office and law  enforcement agencies indicate those costs are more than $350,000.

It is unclear whether Anthony will be at the hearing Friday in front of Orange County Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr.

Anthony has been in seclusion since  her July acquittal on murder charges in the 2008 death of her  2-year-old daughter and her subsequent release from jail.

But  in the same case, a Florida jury convicted her on four misdemeanor  counts of providing false information to law enforcement officers.

Prosecutors have cited a Florida law that allows the state to fine defendants in criminal cases to recoup money spent.

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Filed under: Baseball • Casey Anthony • Courts • Crime • Fire • Justice • Natural Disasters • On the Radar • Roger Clemens • Sports • Texas
On the Radar: Pacific surf, Oklahoma fires, Libya money
High surf and dangerous riptides are forecasts at Southern California beaches into the weekend.
September 1st, 2011
06:20 AM ET

On the Radar: Pacific surf, Oklahoma fires, Libya money

Three things you need to know today.

Pacific surf: While the National Hurricane Center watches Hurricane Katia in the Atlantic and a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico, forecasters on the West Coast are warning of high waves and dangerous riptides on southwest facing beaches.

Waves of up to 11 feet could pound Southern California beaches from San Luis Obispo south to San Diego, the National Weather Service said.

"The surf may cause hazards for anyone entering the water," the weather service's forecast said.

The high waves are the result of a winter storm off the coast of New Zealand whose rough seas are now being felt across the Pacific.

Big waves have been pounding Hawaii since Tuesday, CNN affiliate KHNL reports, and forecasters say 8-to-12-foot waves can be expected in the islands today.

Oklahoma fires: One of two wildfires burning in Oklahoma City on Wednesday pushed north toward suburban Edmond, illuminating the windy night sky with spirals of flame and flying embers.

The fire broke out Tuesday in the less densely populated northeast Oklahoma City and was moving in a northerly direction toward more largely residential, Edmond Fire Chief Tim Wheeler said.

"The winds have shifted a bit," Wheeler said. "It's current path it's going to travel through a heavily wooded area, which will allow the fire to grow in intensity."

He said it is hoped the fire can be stopped before it crosses Interstate 44 to the southeast of Edmond, but the department had already initiated its Code Red system, which autodials residents' telephone numbers encouraging them to evacuate.

Money for Libya: The British government has started delivering money that it unfroze to a bank in Libya, the foreign secretary said in a statement Wednesday.

The Royal Air Force delivered 280 million dinars (about 140 million pounds) to the Central Bank of Libya in Benghazi, the statement said.

The money is among billions of dollars ordered frozen by the United Nations when the crisis began.

The money "will be used to pay the wages of Libyan public sector employees, including nurses, doctors, teachers and police officers," the statement said. It also will be used to pay for medicines and food.

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Filed under: California • Fire • Hawaii • Libya • Natural Disasters • Oklahoma • On the Radar • Weather
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