Review Category : National News

Gov. Brown Declares State of Emergency As Wildfires Rage On

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Gov. Edmund “Jerry” Brown declared a state of emergency in California on Saturday caused by a number of wildfires that have burned thousands of acres, destroyed residences and damaged infrastructure.

The first of the fires began on July 25 in El Dorado and Amador counties, and as of Aug. 1, there were 17 fires burning across the state. Brown noted in his proclamation of a state of emergency that one of the fires had crossed over the border from the state of Oregon.

The state has also been suffering from a drought which prompted a previous declaration of a state of emergency by Brown in January, which increases the risk of wildfires and makes each fire more likely to spread.

Brown is calling on the California National Guard to mobilize in order to support disaster response and relief efforts across the Golden State.

Earlier on Saturday, the state of California had placed two more C-130 military planes equipped with Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems on active duty to fight the fires. Two of the planes had previously been made active. The planes feature a special tank inside the cargo hold that can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or flame retardant in approximately five seconds.

The four C-130 planes are half of the state’s eight available MAFFS-equipped C-130 planes, and are supporting 15 civilian planes battling the blazes.

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Repairs, Recovery Underway at UCLA After Water Main Break

ABC7 Los Angeles(LOS ANGELES) — Gene Block, Chancellor of the University of California, Los Angeles announced Friday that the school has begun work to recover from a broken water main that caused flooding on the campus earlier this week.

The flooding caused damage in buildings, underground parking garages and athletic facilities — including the school’s famous basketball area, Pauley Pavilion, which had undergone more than $100 million in renovations in 2012. City Councilman Paul Koretz said on Tuesday that the emergency couldn’t have come at a worse time, while much of the state is suffering from a drought.

Most undamaged vehicles have been moved to an outdoor parking lot where owners can claim them. The removal of damaged vehicles continues over the weekend.

Block also announced that the repairs necessary to make Pauley Pavilion usable will be completed in advance of the fall basketball season.

“We will continue to look for ways to help our students, staff and faculty who have been affected by this incident,” Block said.

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Police: Texas Woman Lied About Home Invasion, Killed Her Husband

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HOUSTON, Texas) — A Texas woman found on Christmas Eve tied up inside her home along with her husband has been charged with his murder.

Sandra Melgar, 52, of Houston, was charged with murdering her husband of 32 years, Jaime Melgar, in 2012.

Police suspect that Melgar stabbed her husband with a knife, according to court documents.

Relatives who arrived at the couple’s home that night to celebrate their anniversary found Melgar and her husband locked in separate closets.

“Ms. Melgar says they were in the bathroom together, her and her husband, and at some time she blacked out and the next thing she remembers is waking up in the closet tied up,” Sergeant Robert Spurgeon of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said.

Melgar’s husband was found with stab wounds, according to police.

Police say they were suspicious of Melgar’s story after discovering that nothing had been taken from the home, although it is still unclear what led authorities to arrest and charge Melgar.

“It just seemed like something was really strange with how it all came down, them being tied up and just one person being killed,” said Randy Parman, a neighbor.

Members of the Harris County community said they feel more at ease knowing a home burglar might never have been at-large.

“It’s a relief to know it’s not random, not a home invasion,” Jane Yang, a neighbor, said.

Melgar is due in court on August 14.

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Crews Continue Battling Carlton Complex Fire in Washington, New Blaze Started

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(OKANOGAN, Wash.) — Firefighters made progress in battling Washington state’s Carlton Complex Fire overnight Friday into Saturday, despite a new fire being sparked west of Highway 20.

A Monday morning update noted that fire crews now have the fires 81 percent contained, though the fire now covers about 252,761 acres. The containment figure is up from 71 percent on Friday night.

Due to the new fire activity south of Winthrop, Washington, addition evacuations were put into place. All residents from Twin Lakes Road to Wolf Creek Road and at the Sun Mountain Resort were placed under level three evacuations.

Over 3,000 fire personnel continue to battle the flames.

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Toledo, Ohio Under ‘Do Not Drink’ Water Advisory

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TOLEDO, Ohio) — The city of Toledo is warning its residents, and many residents in the area, not to drink or boil water from the tap after samples from the city’s water treatment plant showed high toxin levels.

In an urgent notice posted to the city’s Facebook account, officials say that water from the tap should not be consumed or boiled, as boiling water could make the situation worse. The water could be dangerous to both humans and pets.

The “do not drink” notice applies to all customers of Toledo Water — including all of Lucas County and some parts of Michigan.

The toxins appear to have been cause by a harmful algal bloom. Consuming the toxins could cause abnormal liver function, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, numbness or dizziness. Anyone who believes they might have been exposed is urged to seem medical attention.

Alternative water should be used for all consumption, though officials believe the water is safe for bathing.

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Toledo, Ohio Under ‘Do Not Drink’ Water Advisory

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TOLEDO, Ohio) — The city of Toledo is warning its residents, and many residents in the area, not to drink or boil water from the tap after samples from the city’s water treatment plant showed high toxin levels.

In an urgent notice posted to the city’s Facebook account, officials say that water from the tap should not be consumed or boiled, as boiling water could make the situation worse. The water could be dangerous to both humans and pets.

The “do not drink” notice applies to all customers of Toledo Water — including all of Lucas County and some parts of Michigan.

The toxins appear to have been cause by a harmful algal bloom. Consuming the toxins could cause abnormal liver function, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, numbness or dizziness. Anyone who believes they might have been exposed is urged to seem medical attention.

Alternative water should be used for all consumption, though officials believe the water is safe for bathing.

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Funeral for Murdered Teen April Millsap Held as Police Search for Killer

iStock/Thinkstock(DETROIT) — About 100 people Friday attended the funeral for April Millsap, the teenage girl murdered in Michigan on July 24 while walking her dog.

The funeral took place at around the same time that a father and son were arraigned for growing marijuana inside a house that the Michigan State Police and FBI searched as part of the ongoing investigation into Millsap’s murder, according to the FBI and Michigan State Police.

James Bernard VanCallis, a 66-year-old registered sex offender, and his 32-year-old son, James Donald VanCallis, both had bail set at $75,000, according to state police.

Police searched the VanCallis home on Wednesday as part of the murder investigation but Michigan State Police spokesman Lt. Michael Shaw made it clear that the arrests were separate from the homicide investigation. No arrests have been made in connection to Millsap’s murder.

The younger VanCallis began to cry during the arraignment and his father pleaded to be allowed to go home on account of his pets.

“I love my dogs. I just wanna go home to my dogs. I didn’t do nothing,” VanCallis Sr said according to WXYZ.

VanCallis Jr. has a medical marijuana license and is allowed to have 36 plants in his home, but during the search of Goodell, Michigan house, investigators found 52 plants inside, according to WXYZ.

Both men have criminal records: VanCallis Jr. was convicted of breaking and entering in 2005 and failing to pay child support. His father is a tier-3 registered sex offender and was convicted on two counts of criminal sexual misconduct, both in 1995. The second-degree charge related to a person under the age of 13 and the fourth-degree charge involved a victim between the ages of 13 and 16 years old, according to the Michigan sex offender registry.

Neither of the men have a lawyer, WXYZ reported, so the judge entered a not guilty pleas for both.

The Michigan State Police and the FBI are continuing to search for leads in Millsap’s murder. The girl, who was walking her dog on a hiking path, was killed and left in a drainage ditch, where joggers found her body. The cause of death has not been revealed.

Police stopped all traffic going in and out of Millsap’s hometown of Armadad for three hours on Thursday evening in a hunt for leads. Shaw explained that they chose that time because it is the exact time frame when the 14-year-old was killed a week earlier.

“Humans are creatures of habit so we were hoping to speak to some of the same people who had been there when April disappeared,” Shaw told ABC.

He said that the efforts paid off and investigators got “five to eight good tips that we didn’t have before from people who weren’t sure if they should call us or not.”

WXYZ reported that police were seen searching and dredging Omo Lake on Friday, which is near the area where the victim’s phone was found.

Police already issued search warrants for phone records- though they would not specify which phone records- as part of the investigation.

Early reports about Millsap’s murder included claims from a relative that she had texted her boyfriend on July 24 saying “OMG. … I think I’m being kidnapped.” But Michigan State Police spokesman Lt. Michael Shaw told ABC News that the message was phrased differently and may not have come from April herself.

Police still have no formal suspects in the case.

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Hammerhead Shark Spooks Swimmers at Florida Beach

iStock/Thinkstock(NAVARRE, Fla.) — A hammerhead shark shocked beachgoers in Florida when it swam right up to the shore, prompting terrified swimmers to frantically flee from the water.

And the man who caught it all on video, Dan Flynn, said the hectic scene was “extraordinary.”

“I’ve seen sharks before but I’ve never seen a shark get that close,” he told ABC News on Thursday. “It was almost interacting with humans. From our vantage point, we could see the shark going towards a lady swimmer. And her back was to the shark, and she was unaware. You can hear people screaming in the video. I yelled, ‘Get out of the water!’”

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Flynn, who lives in New Orleans, watched the scene unfold Tuesday from the fishing pier in Navarre, Fla., while on vacation with his family.

From above, he could see directly into the clear water. The shark was probably 10-feet-long, he said.

“Someone just yelled shark and I started taping,” he said.

Flynn estimates that the shark got within 10 feet of the shore. It swam around for about 10 or 15 minutes, he said, before retreating back into the sea.

Swimmers were spooked but wasted no time getting back into the water, he said. His videos of the shark quickly went viral after he posted them on Facebook.

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Abby Hernandez Saw Reports About Her Disappearance While She Was Missing

ABC/Randy Holmes(CONWAY, N.H.) — Abigail Hernandez’s mother told their local newspaper the teen saw reports about her disappearance while she was missing for nine months.

Hernandez and her mother stopped by The Conway Daily Sun‘s offices and cited a daily ticker box feature in the paper that showed how many days Hernandez had been missing, as Hernandez gave the paper her first media interview since she returned home July 20.

“Abby saw that [ticker box] off and on,” her mother, Zenya Hernandez, told the paper on Thursday. “She didn’t see it every day. It gave her hope that people were looking. It was one of the first things she said to me when she returned home, is, ‘Thank you to The Conway Daily Sun.’”

The teen returned to her mother’s home in Conway, New Hampshire, on July 20 after vanishing during her walk home from school on Oct. 9, 2013.

Police have arrested Nathaniel Kibby, a 34-year-old man from a town 34 miles away, in connection to Abby’s disappearance. He was arraigned Tuesday and Abigail was sitting in the front row alongside her mother during the hearing.

“I’m taking it a little at a time but I’m feeling a lot better every day,” the 15-year-old said during the informal meeting at the local newspaper.

Abigail, who was reportedly malnourished and unable to eat solid foods when she first returned home, was pictured smiling at the newspaper offices with her mother and a family friend while wearing a t-shirt that said “C.S.I. Can’t Stand Idiots.”

She told the paper that she wants to “be treated like a normal person” and revisit old pastimes like horseback riding.

“I really miss that,” she said.

Neither the Hernandezes nor police have released any information about where she was or what happened to her during her disappearance because the investigation is ongoing.

The only charge listed against Kibby claimed he “confined [Hernandez] with a purpose to commit an offense against her.” No plea was entered at the hearing. Authorities may bring more charges at the next hearing in the case on Aug. 12.

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NYPD Chokehold Death Ruled a Homicide

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The death of a Staten Island man, who was put into a choke hold by the New York Police Department, was ruled a homicide Friday by the city’s medical examiner.

The incident provoked outrage last month after a witness filmed NYPD cops placing Eric Garner in what appeared to be a chokehold while arresting Garner for selling cigarettes illegally. Garner, who was 6-foot-3 and 350 pounds, could be heard yelling that he could not breathe.

After his death, officers told supervisors that they did not think excess force was used and initially blamed Garner’s death on a heart attack before the film went viral.

On Friday, the New York City Medical Examiner ruled that the cause of death was “compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest, and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.”

The examiner said that acute and chronic bronchial asthma, obesity and hypersensitive cardiovascular disease were “contributing conditions” but still ruled the manner of death a “homicide.”

The officer who was seen in the video placing Garner in the choke hold, Daniel Pantaleo, an eight-year veteran, was placed on modified assignment pending the outcome of investigations into the incident by the district attorney and NYPD Internal Affairs unit. The FBI also said it was monitoring the case.

Pantaleo’s gun and badge were taken away pending the outcome of the investigations.

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