Nation in brief: Wildfire empties art center, college


LOS ANGELES – The world-famous Getty Center art complex and nearby Mount St. Mary’s College were evacuated Wednesday as a fire burned in thick brush on the steep slopes of the Santa Monica Mountains.

The fire erupted at 12:44 p.m. and quickly grew to 80 acres above parking facilities for the Getty, which has a collection ranging from European paintings to illuminated manuscripts and photographs, including works by Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh.

About 350 firefighters worked on rugged slopes, and seven helicopters pounded flames with repeated water drops.

The fire was 50 percent contained shortly after 6:30 p.m., and officials expected increasingly favorable conditions because of rising humidity.

Fire Department spokesman Lauren deRosier said equipment used by a brush clearance crew sparked the fire.

Feds won’t pursue stalking charges

WASHINGTON – Federal prosecutors have dropped charges against former Washington Mayor Marion Barry, who was accused of stalking his ex-girlfriend.

U.S. Park Police arrested the current D.C. councilman on Saturday after they said Donna Watts-Brighthaupt complained she was being stalked.

Barry’s lawyer denied the allegations.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Wednesday that it would not pursue the stalking charges after reviewing evidence.

Barry served four terms as mayor. In 1990 he was videotaped smoking crack cocaine in an FBI sting but later regained the mayor’s office.

Turtles bring jet traffic to halt

NEW YORK – A runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport was shut down briefly Wednesday morning after at least 78 turtles emerged from a nearby bay and crawled onto the tarmac.

Grounds crews eventually rounded up the wayward reptiles and deposited them back in the brackish water farther from airport property, but not before the incident disrupted JFK’s flight schedule and contributed to delays that reached nearly 1  1/2 hours.

“Apparently, this is something the tower has experienced before,” said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters. “I guess it’s the season for spawning.”


Click here to comment on this story »