Nation in brief: Weather helps wildfire crews

Calmer, cooler weather helped crews get a handle Sunday on a destructive wildfire in the Santa Cruz Mountains that has brought a fierce start to the state’s fire season.

Easing winds and lower temperatures helped keep the blaze from spreading after flames charred more than 3,900 acres and destroyed at least 29 homes since Thursday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention.

The fire was about 60 percent contained Sunday evening, fire officials said. The blaze still threatened 550 homes and 20 commercial buildings.

Hundreds of residents remain under evacuation following the outbreak of the fire in the mountainous region about 15 miles south of San Jose. Five firefighters have suffered minor injuries.

Little Rock, Ark.

Man opens fire on wedding party

An apparent stranger shot the bride, groom and two other people at an outdoor wedding in rural Arkansas, then was arrested after being chased by guests, a sheriff’s official said Sunday.

The wedding was ending Saturday when the suspect approached with a 9 mm pistol and opened fire, Pope County sheriff’s Lt. Aaron DuVall said.

The suspect “was not associated with the wedding at all,” DuVall said. “No one knew him.”

Police arrested Patrick Paul Duvall, 29, after he was chased into a Russellville restaurant parking lot, said the sheriff’s lieutenant, who is not related to the suspect.

DuVall said the bride, groom and a third victim remained in the hospital Sunday. One victim was treated and released.


Rolling Thunder honors president

Members of the Rolling Thunder motorcycling group roared into town for a White House visit Sunday, where they presented President Bush with his own cowhide vest and pushed for increased veterans benefits.

“Mr. President, we’d like to make you an honorary member of Rolling Thunder,” said Artie Muller, the group’s executive director, to a delighted Bush, who shed his suit jacket to don the vest and pose for pictures.

“You’ve done a lot for the country, and the troops appreciate you, and the veterans appreciate you, and your president appreciates you,” Bush told the group.

For 21 years, Rolling Thunder has led a “Ride for Freedom” along the National Mall during Memorial Day weekend, a full-throttle demonstration in support of soldiers held captive or missing in action.

The leaders of Rolling Thunder, a group with about 90 chapters throughout the country, met briefly with the president in the Oval Office afterward to discuss concerns relating to veterans’ care.

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