August 2, 2010 in Nation/World

Nation in brief: Plane crashes into mountain

 

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A large cargo-type plane crashed in Alaska on Sunday and burst into a deadly fireball that sparked a forest fire at Denali National Park, officials said.

Park spokeswoman Kris Fister said there are fatalities, but it’s unclear how many.

The aircraft crashed into the south-facing slope of Mount Healy, about 200 yards north of the only major road in the park and within a mile of the park headquarters, Fister said.

First responders arrived within minutes of the 3 p.m. crash, but the plane was already engulfed in flames. The fire was contained by late Sunday evening, Fister said.

Military officials said none of their planes were involved. The National Transportation Safety Board said there are a number of large transport planes operating in Alaska.

Crews gaining control of blaze

PALMDALE, Calif. – Higher humidity and lower temperatures helped firefighters nearly contain a wildfire smoldering Sunday in the high desert north of Los Angeles.

The fire charred nearly 22 square miles of brush in the Antelope Valley. It was 87 percent contained Sunday, and crews hoped to have it fully surrounded by this evening, Los Angeles County Inspector Don Kunitomi said.

All roads were reopened at sunrise Sunday.

The fire was believed to have been sparked Thursday afternoon in the Agua Dulce area by someone working on a car wheel.

Four homes and five outbuildings were destroyed.

Inmate linked to another death

RICHMOND, Va. – A Virginia inmate who warned prosecutors he would kill again if not given the death penalty for strangling his cellmate was involved in the death of another inmate, authorities said.

Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ron Elkins confirmed late Saturday that Robert Gleason Jr. was “involved” in the death of 26-year-old Aaron Alexander Cooper, though Elkins refused to elaborate. Gleason, who was already serving a life term for murder before killing his cellmate last year, has not been charged in the death.

Cooper died Wednesday in the recreation yard for inmates housed in segregation at the maximum security Red Onion State Prison in southwestern Virginia. Elkins is awaiting a report from the medical examiner today, but he said authorities believe Cooper was strangled.

Gleason is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 31 for killing his cellmate at Wallens Ridge State Prison last year. He fired his attorneys and pleaded guilty in May, telling prosecutors he would kill again if they didn’t seek the death penalty in his case.

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