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In brief: Jetliner’s tires ignite on landing

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The tires of a JetBlue airplane caught fire Thursday during a hard landing in Sacramento that left 15 people with minor injuries and sent passengers down emergency slides to escape the aircraft.

Passenger Michelle McDuffie said people onboard felt a thud when the plane touched down at about 12:50 p.m. after a flight from Long Beach, but nobody thought there was an emergency until the crew shouted for everyone to exit on the inflatable slides.

The plane appeared to experience trouble with its brakes, and four tires blew out during the landing, airline spokeswoman Sharon Jones said.

Sacramento County Airport System Aircraft Rescue firefighters extinguished tires of the aircraft that were on fire, while Sacramento firefighters triaged aircraft passengers and crew, according to a Sacramento Fire Department release.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the plane had not caused any delays at the airport.

The incident was being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Alexander County, N.C., community famed for its lunker emeralds has yielded a 64-carat gem that experts say is North America’s largest cut emerald.

Gem miner Terry Ledford said the deep-green crystal he dug up in Hiddenite last August was so big it “looked like an empty 7-Up bottle.” About 2 inches square, it weighed 310 carats before being cut. Its hue made it even more desirable.

After having the stone cut and recut, Ledford and his partner gave the emerald a trademarked name: the Carolina Emperor.

A respected New York gemologist, C.R. “Cap” Beesley, called it “by far the largest gem ever recovered from North America and North Carolina,” including rubies and sapphires. Beesley compared the Emperor to a cut emerald of similar size that sold for $1.6 million earlier this year.


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