Review Category : National News

Wildfire Spreads Over 45,000 Acres in California as Search Through Destruction Continues

iStock/Thinkstock(KERN COUNTY, Calif.) — Many residents in Kern County, California, have lost their homes in a deadly fire still burning through the area, while others have been denied access to their houses amid the catastrophic destruction left behind.

Two people have died and at least 200 homes have been destroyed in the Erskine fire, which has spread to over 45,000 acres. Officials continue to search through the charred rubble using a team of cadaver dogs, which they expect to extend for about three more days. On Saturday, some animal remains were found.

The fast-moving fire is 40 percent contained as of this morning, according to the spokesperson for Cal Fire, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Daniel Berlant. More than 2,000 people are helping to fight the blaze.

Chief Brian Marshall of the Kern County Fire Department described the blaze as mother nature and a spark colliding.

Brandi Pettit, an evacuee who said she learned from a neighbor that her home didn’t make it, said, “Losing a house at age 29, it’s hard,” through tears. “I don’t wish this on [anybody].”

Another woman told ABC News she feels “homeless and helpless.”

Eighty-one evacuees are in shelters; residents whose homes were not affected will be allowed to return home Monday.

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WV Man Goes House to House Rescuing Neighbors After Flooding

ABC News(NEW YORK) — As West Virginia residents brace for more rain Monday in the wake of the state’s historic flooding, ABC News spoke to one man who rescued his neighbors after flooding tore through their block.

At least 23 are dead from the flooding last week, and many devastated residents have been forced from their homes.

When high waters rushed through Michael Mitchem’s West Virginia home, destroying his belongings, he immediately went to save his neighbors.

“I wasn’t really thinking of myself,” he told ABC News. “After I got my family up here I waded in this water down to this woman’s house who was trapped in there, her and her daughter. And we called the National Guard, we called the fire department, we called everybody.”

He and another man then went house to house rescuing neighbors on the block, picking up the stranded in a boat.

“That’s all we did all night long, was grab people, grab people,” Mitchem said.

He said the water was sometimes chest-high and even above his head.

“Our protocol was not to worry about ourselves. Nobody left behind,” Mitchem, an army veteran, said.

“I got nine kids that have to look at me as a father figure and a hero,” he said. “My daughter thinks that I’m better than Superman.”

A cold front moving though West Virginia Monday is expected to bring more rain to the already rain-soaked state. The forecast shows an additional 1 to 3 inches of rain. Due to the record rainfall last week, any rain is likely to cause flash flooding.

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Wildfire Spreads Over 45,000 Acres in Erskine, California, Damage and Death Toll May Rise

iStock/Thinkstock(KERN COUNTY, Calif.) — Many residents in Kern County, California, have lost their homes in a deadly fire still burning through the area, while others have been denied access to their houses amid the catastrophic destruction left behind.

Two people have died and at least 150 homes have been destroyed in the Erskine fire, which has reportedly spread over 45,000 acres. Officials says the death toll could climb as they continue to search for victims amongst the charred buildings with a team of cadaver dogs.

One woman who lost her home told ABC News she feels “homeless and helpless.”

Another evacuee said she learned from a neighbor that her home didn’t make it. “Losing a house at age 29, it’s hard,” Brandi Pettit said through tears. “I don’t wish this on [anybody].”

Chief Brian Marshall of the Kern County Fire Department described the blaze as mother nature and a spark colliding.

The fast-moving fire is 40 percent contained as of Monday morning, according to the spokesperson for Cal Fire, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Daniel Berlant. More than 2,000 people are helping to fight the blaze.

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Passengers Evacuate Flight After Brakes Cause Smoke Upon Landing

conductorjason/Twitter(DALLAS) — Passengers aboard a flight to Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport were forced evacuate their plane after a smoky landing Monday morning, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Everything aboard American Eagle Flight 3492 from Mobile, Alabama, operated by Envoy Air, was business as usual Monday morning until the plane was already on the ground, according to the airline. Upon landing, the aircraft’s brakes became hot and began to produce smoke, according to American Airlines spokesperson Ross Feinstein.

The airport and American Airlines told ABC News the plane landed safely and no one suffered any serious injuries.

The pilots of the Embraer E145 reported some smoke in the cockpit after landing, FAA spokesperson Lynn Lunsford told ABC News, adding that a flame may have appeared out of a wheel well.

It’s the crew’s decision whether to have passengers evacuate rather than the routine exit at a gate.

The 40 passengers and three crew members on board the flight were helped down from the plane to the tarmac by those on the ground. The FAA does not allow slides on small planes like the Embraer E145 in this incident.

Photos on social media show the airport’s emergency response vehicles coming to the aid of the aircraft while the passengers watched the scene unfold on the tarmac.

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Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Abortion Limits

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court Monday struck down a Texas law that imposed significant restrictions on abortion clinics — a major victory for abortion rights activists and a blow to the campaign to limit the procedures.

In a 5-to-3 decision, the justices struck down a law that set strict regulations governing how abortion clinics operate. The Texas law, enacted in 2013, mainly required clinics providing abortion services to beef up their facilities to match walk-in surgical centers and mandated physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

Hundreds of activists on both sides of the debate gathered outside the Supreme Court in anticipation of the ruling. Monday is the last day that the court will issue decisions for this term, which began in October.

Texas has defended the restrictions, and the number of clinics providing abortion services in the state has dropped since the law was enacted. The Supreme Court said Texas put an undue burden on a woman’s legal right to get an abortion.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, criticized the ruling.

“The decision erodes states’ lawmaking authority to safeguard the health and safety of women and subjects more innocent life to being lost,” he said in a statement. “Texas’ goal is to protect innocent life while ensuring the highest health and safety standards for women.”

The court is down one justice, from nine to eight, because of the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia in February. He routinely sided with anti-abortion advocates.

The court is now evenly divided, with four conservative justices and four liberals. The majority opinion for the court, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, held that the regulations are medically unnecessary and unconstitutionally limit a woman’s right to an abortion.

“We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes,” Breyer wrote of the “admitting-privileges requirement” and the “surgical center requirement. “Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a pre-viability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the federal Constitution.”

Breyer was joined by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented.

In a concurring opinion, Ginsburg wrote, “Given those realities, it is beyond rational belief that [the Texas law] could genuinely protect the health of women and certain that the law “would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions.”

In his dissent, Thomas argued that the court shouldn’t have decided the case at all for technical and procedural reasons. But he also argues that the court’s abortion jurisprudence is fundamentally misguided, and the court today “radically rewrites the undue burden test” by “requiring courts to consider the burdens a law imposes on abortion access together with the benefits those laws confer.”

The last time the high court decided a major abortion case was nine years ago when they ruled to uphold a law banning late-term abortion procedures.

“Today women lost,” Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life of America, said outside the court after the ruling. “Today the Supreme Court put politics over the health and safety of women in our country.”

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Texas Abortion Limits Struck Down by Supreme Court

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court Monday struck down a major ruling on abortion access, one that centered on a Texas state law that imposed major restrictions on abortion clinics.

The justices decision, 5-3, struck down a law that affects clinic operations. The Texas law passed in 2013 required clinics providing abortion services to keep building standards in line with walk-in surgical centers. Those doctors performing abortions must also have certain privileges at nearby hospitals.

While Texas has defended the restrictions, since the law was enacted, clinics providing abortion services in the state have dropped.

This is a developing story. Please check back in for updates.

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Two Escaped Inmates Captured, One Still on the Run in South Carolina

iStock/Thinkstock(BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C.) — Two brothers who escaped from a South Carolina jail were captured Sunday night while a third inmate remains on the loose, Berkeley County Sheriff’s deputies said.

Berkeley County Chief Deputy Mike Cochran said Michael Bryan Chaplin and Matthew Daniel Chaplin surrendered about 9:15 p.m. after SWAT team members surrounded them in a home in Goose Creek, South Carolina.

Deputies are still searching for 34-year-old Donald Ray Little. According to police, Little is about 6 feet tall and 165 pounds.

The escape happened early Friday inside the Dorchester County jail, roughly 50 northwest of Charleston, when the three inmates broke out of a window, using bed sheets to escape the facility.

Police said they stole a truck from a nearby home that was later recovered in Berkeley County Friday.

Officials say the suspects stole another vehicle Friday from Charleston County. A deputy spotted the suspects in the vehicle Saturday and attempted to pull them over, ABC Charleston affiliate WCIV-TV reported.

Instead, the truck drove away, setting off an eight-hour manhunt that was called off that evening.

Cochran said deputies learned the Chaplin brothers were at the house in Goose Creek about 1 p.m. Sunday. He said SWAT surrounded the house while deputies went to get a search warrant. Once they had it in hand, negotiators contacted the men and they surrendered.

The suspects were returned to the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office. A bond hearing has not been set.

Little, 34, was in jail for a probation violation. He was convicted in 2014 of making meth and sentenced to prison and probation, according to court records.

Michael Bryan Chaplin, 31, was in jail on two counts of grand larceny and four counts of burglary.

Matthew Daniel Chaplin, 28, was jailed on three counts of larceny, possession of meth, card theft and possession of a stolen vehicle.

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At Least 2 Dead as Wildfire Fight Continues in California

iStock/Thinkstock(LAKE ISABELLA, Calif.) — Hundreds of California firefighters are still struggling to contain a deadly fire that has destroyed entire neighborhoods.

Kern County officials said Sunday that the 58 square mile-wide Erskine Fire blazed through at least 200 homes and other structures.

As of Sunday night, the fast-moving fire was 10 percent contained and at least two people were killed, according to officials. Kern County officials were also trying to confirm if more were dead as they continued to battle the blaze.

“We weren’t that lucky,” said Kern County Fire Chief Brian Marshall. “Again, mother nature and a spark collided and this fire moved extremely fast.”

Nearly two million acres have burned in California this year, ahead of last year’s record-setting burnage pace, and fire season has barely started.

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Right-Wing Group’s Rally Turns Violent in Sacramento

iStock/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Officials said at least seven people were stabbed after an alleged Nazi protest in Sacramento, California, turned violent on Sunday.

The rally was planned by the “Traditionalist Workers Party,” according to Sacramento Police, at the state capitol where counter protesters showed up in advance.

Counter protesters called the Traditionalist Worker Party “Nazis,” according to ABC affiliate KXTV in Sacramento.

Police were not immediately sure what triggered the violence, but said they were first notified of a stabbing around 11:45 a.m. Sunday.

The seven stabbing victims were transported to local hospitals, and officials said two people had life-threatening injuries.

The Traditionalist Worker Party says on its website that it “stands for Faith, Family, and Folk. Our party members share a common struggle to transfer power and resources from the corrupt and unaccountable federal government to community and regional leaders who stand for traditional values, strong families, and revived cultures.

“Localism and secessionism are central to our mission,” it says.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the TWP was formed in January 2015 as the political wing of the Traditionalist Youth Network, a group that tries to draw high school and college students into white nationalism.

This is a developing story. Check back for additional updates.

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At Least 7 Stabbing Victims After Sacramento Rally Turns Violent, Officials Say

iStock/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Officials said at least seven people were stabbed after an alleged Nazi protest in Sacramento, California, turned violent on Sunday.

The rally was planned by the “Traditionalist Workers Party,” according to Sacramento Police, at the state capitol where counter protesters showed up in advance.

Counter protesters called the Traditionalist Worker Party “Nazis,” according to ABC affiliate KXTV in Sacramento.

Police were not immediately sure what triggered the violence, but said they were first notified of a stabbing around 11:45 a.m. Sunday.

The seven stabbing victims were transported to local hospitals, and officials said two people had life-threatening injuries.

The Traditionalist Worker Party says on its website that it “stands for Faith, Family, and Folk. Our party members share a common struggle to transfer power and resources from the corrupt and unaccountable federal government to community and regional leaders who stand for traditional values, strong families, and revived cultures.

“Localism and secessionism are central to our mission,” it says.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the TWP was formed in January 2015 as the political wing of the Traditionalist Youth Network, a group that tries to draw high school and college students into white nationalism.

This is a developing story. Check back for additional updates.

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