Vacuum Cleaner Caused $400 Million In Damages To US Nuclear Submarine

June 6, 2012

PORTSMOUTH, MAINE – A fire last month aboard a U.S. nuclear submarine that caused more than $400 million in damage may have been caused by a vacuum cleaner, the Navy said Wednesday.

“Preliminary findings indicate the fire started in a vacuum cleaner used to clean work sites at end of shift, and stored in an unoccupied space,” the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Congressional and Public Affairs Office said in a news release. “Specific details as to the cause and subsequent damage assessment are still being evaluated as part of ongoing investigations and will be released at a later date.”

Public Affairs Officer Deb White said she did not know what kind of vacuum cleaner had been implicated in the blaze or whether the same machine was used by any other nuclear submarines.

The May 24 incident affected the forward compartment of the USS Miami, where the crew’s living quarters, command and control spaces and the torpedo room are, the release said.

“Miami’s nuclear propulsion spaces were not affected by the fire,” the release said. “The ship’s nuclear propulsion plant was not operating at the time and the plant had been shut down for over two months. Nuclear propulsion spaces were isolated from the forward compartment fire early and spaces remained habitable, manned and in a safe and stable condition throughout the entire event. There were no torpedoes or other weapons onboard the submarine.”

Cleanup in the forward compartment began last week and the Navy estimated an “initial rough repair cost” of $400 million, plus some 10% for what it called “secondary effects,” including disruption to other planned work in the shipyards and the possible need to contract work to the private sector.

The submarine was commissioned in 1990 and carries a crew of 12 officers and 98 enlisted personnel, according to the Navy.

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Veteran Birmingham Alabama Police Officer Curtis Thornton Arrested And Charged With Arson Amid Investigation Into Series Of Fires That Have Burned 23 Homes In The Area

May 26, 2012

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA – A Birmingham police officer with almost three years on the force has been arrested after a series of arsons in abandoned houses in the city and a suburb this month.

Fourteen houses were set ablaze in western Birmingham, and nine in the northern suburb of Warrior.

The Birmingham Police Department and the Alabama State Fire Marshal Office said at a news conference on Friday that Curtis Thornton, a patrolman in the city’s western precinct, had been charged with two counts of arson, one count of attempted arson and one count of felony criminal mischief related to the suburban fires.

Officer Thornton has not yet been charged in any of the Birmingham fires, but police officials here said they expected charges to be filed.

“Although no charges have been filed as of this date, obviously we have now the focus of the investigation,” Chief A. C. Roper Jr. said. “We were appalled at the direction the case has taken, but our goal is to bring that person to justice, regardless of who he is or where he might work.”

Besides the state arson investigation, the Birmingham police are conducting an internal inquiry, Chief Roper said.

Officer Thornton, 27, joined the department in August 2009. During the recent arsons, Mr. Thornton was working the morning shift, which begins at 11 p.m. and ends at 7 a.m., in the western precinct. The Birmingham police would not say whether Mr. Thornton had been on duty during any of the fires.

All of the houses burned in the Ensley neighborhood had been abandoned. Ensley was once a bustling neighborhood of steel mill employees and their families, but mill closings have left the neighborhood blighted with abandoned homes, many on the city’s demolition list, waiting to be torn down.

That process can take years, frustrating nearby residents and providing havens for crime. The city estimates that there are 1,800 houses in need of demolition. The Birmingham City Council has already approved more than 700 demolitions, but recovery from tornadoes last spring and a strained city budget have prevented the city from acting.

The house fires began in the early morning hours last Saturday. Over four days, 14 burned, some of them simultaneously. The only injuries reported were minor ones to firefighters. Meanwhile, state fire marshals investigated another string of nine arsons in Warrior. When that investigation led to a Birmingham police officer, investigators decided the two sets of fires might be connected. Officials here would not release more details, saying that the investigation was continuing.

On Tuesday, Mayor William A. Bell of Birmingham is expected to ask the City Council for an emergency $1.5 million appropriation to demolish the burned homes and move forward with others.

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US Navy Nuclear Powered Submarine USS Miami Catches Fire At Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

May 23, 2012

KITTERY, MAINE – A fire has been reported on a nuclear-powered submarine at a Maine shipyard.

Fire crews are responding to the blaze on the USS Miami SSN 755 at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, located on an island in the small town of Kittery near Portsmouth, N.H. The Portsmouth Herald newspaper says several firefighters have been injured.

Shipyard public affairs specialist Gary Hildreth says the fire is located in the forward compartment of the sub. The shipyard says the sub’s reactor wasn’t operating at the time of Wednesday evening’s fire and wasn’t affected.

Nonessential personnel have been removed from the sub. Black smoke has been billowing overhead, visible from surrounding areas.

The USS Miami is a Los Angeles class submarine. It arrived at the shipyard for maintenance and upgrade work in March. Its home station is Groton, Conn., where the U.S. Navy has a submarine base.

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ATF Blamed For Starting Motley County Texas Wildfire – “That Bunch Has A Real Corner On Stupid…”

May 13, 2011

MOTLEY COUNTY, TEXAS – The fight between Texas and Washington, D.C., over wildfires in the Lone Star State just got nastier.

A county official in the Texas Panhandle is now blaming a federal agency for starting one of the fires through carelessness.

Tom Edwards, the county attorney in rural Motley County east of Lubbock, said on Friday that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives was responsible on Tuesday for sparking a fire that consumed 150 acres.

“You can quote me on it: That bunch has a real corner on stupid,” Edwards told Reuters.

Tom Crowley, a spokesman with the federal agency, said bureau officials were assisting four local bomb squads — at their request — to destroy some explosives. Firefighters were on hand, he said. The wind picked up, but the explosives were too dangerous to move, so the officials went ahead and destroyed the explosives.

“Unfortunately, a fragment ignited some grass,” Crowley said. “As far as the community, we’re working with them to let them know how to go about making a claim with the government.”

Texas Governor Rick Perry has publicly criticized the Federal Emergency Management Agency for declining the state’s request for a major disaster declaration for wildfires that have scorched some 2.5 million acres since November.

FEMA has said it has awarded fire management grants to Texas but that the agency determined there was not a need for additional support.

“We’ve got the federal government that has refused to provide assistance to the state on the request of Governor Perry because of all our statewide fires, and then in waltzes federal agents and they start a fire,” Edwards said.

“We had high winds, we’re under a burn ban because of extensive prairie fires, brush fires, and in they rolled with the idea of blowing up things.”

Crowley said that the federal bureau and the local bomb squads were working as a team.

Fires covering some 203,000 acres were still burning as of Friday, according to the Texas Forest Service. The state remains dangerously dry, with 47 percent of Texas listed as in “exceptional drought” by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

This week’s episode shows how dangerous the conditions are, said Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed.

“It underscores why we need help,” she said. “It’s still a touch and go situation out there with drought and winds.”

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Denver Colorado Fire Department’s Arson Investigation Van Burns After Being Targeted By Arsonist

March 2, 2011

DENVER, COLORADO — Someone set one of the Denver Fire Department’s arson vans on fire early Wednesday.

Spokesman Phil Champagne says it happened while an investigator was at a scene looking into two car fires in the 3900 block of W. Kentucky Ave.

The vehicle was damaged on the right front side. It was at the repair shop Wednesday.

Champagne says it’s unusual for an arson investigator to respond to a scene alone, but that was the case this time.
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Nobody was hurt. No word if anyone has been arrested for the arson van arson, or setting the two cars on fire.

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South Fulton Tennessee Fire Department Allowed Family’s House To Burn Because It “Wasn’t On Their List”

October 6, 2010

SOUTH FULTON, TENNESSEE – Firefighters in rural Tennessee let a home burn to the ground last week because the homeowner hadn’t paid a $75 fee.

Gene Cranick of Obion County and his family lost all of their possessions in the Sept. 29 fire, along with three dogs and a cat.

“They could have been saved if they had put water on it, but they didn’t do it,” Cranick told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann.

The fire started when the Cranicks’ grandson was burning trash near the family home. As it grew out of control, the Cranicks called 911, but the fire department from the nearby city of South Fulton would not respond.

“We wasn’t on their list,” he said the operators told him.

Cranick, who lives outside the city limits, admits he “forgot” to pay the annual $75 fee. The county does not have a county-wide firefighting service, but South Fulton offers fire coverage to rural residents for a fee.

Cranick says he told the operator he would pay whatever is necessary to have the fire put out.

His offer wasn’t accepted, he said.

The fire fee policy dates back 20 or so years.

“Anybody that’s not inside the city limits of South Fulton, it’s a service we offer. Either they accept it or they don’t,” said South Fulton Mayor David Crocker.

The fire department’s decision to let the home burn was “incredibly irresponsible,” said the president of an association representing firefighters.

“Professional, career firefighters shouldn’t be forced to check a list before running out the door to see which homeowners have paid up,” Harold Schatisberger, International Association of Fire Fighters president, said in a statement. “They get in their trucks and go.”

Firefighters did eventually show up, but only to fight the fire on the neighboring property, whose owner had paid the fee.

“They put water out on the fence line out here. They never said nothing to me. Never acknowledged. They stood out here and watched it burn,” Cranick said.

South Fulton’s mayor said that the fire department can’t let homeowners pay the fee on the spot, because the only people who would pay would be those whose homes are on fire.

Cranick, who is now living in a trailer on his property, says his insurance policy will help cover some of his lost home.

“Insurance is going to pay for what money I had on the policy, looks like. But like everything else, I didn’t have enough.”

After the blaze, South Fulton police arrested one of Cranick’s sons, Timothy Allen Cranick, on an aggravated assault charge, according to WPSD-TV, an NBC station in Paducah, Ky.

Police told WPSD that the younger Cranick attacked Fire Chief David Wilds at the firehouse because he was upset his father’s house was allowed to burn.

WPSD-TV reported that Wilds was treated and released.

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