Evacuations lifted near California wildfire | The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Evacuations lifted near California wildfire | The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Evacuations lifted near California wildfire | The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Evacuations lifted near California wildfire

OROVILLE, Calif. — Thousands of people evacuated during a Northern California wildfire were able to return to their homes Thursday afternoon as crews continued to battle the flames amid scorching heat, officials said.

Containment on the Thompson Fire near the town of Oroville in Butte County has also increased from 7% to 29%.

The “vast majority” of the 17,000 people who were under evacuation orders or warnings were able to return home, said Kristi Olio, public information officer for Butte County. Earlier reports that 26,000 people were under orders or warnings were inaccurate, she said, adding that the fire has spread so quickly that it has been difficult to get accurate numbers.

The Thompson Fire broke out before noon Tuesday about 70 miles (112 kilometers) north of Sacramento, sending up a massive plume of smoke visible from space. The blaze had burned 5.5 square miles (14 square kilometers), up from 5.5 square miles (14 square kilometers) the previous Thursday.

“Winds are slowly picking up,” said Chris Peterson, information officer for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. “Couple that with the heat and low humidity,” and the potential for volatile fire behavior increases.

Four structures were destroyed and more than 12,000 were threatened.

Four firefighters were injured, all due to heat. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Former engineer charged in plane crash

OXFORD, Mississippi — A former engineer at a U.S. military air logistics center has been charged with making false statements and obstructing justice during the criminal investigation into a 2017 military plane crash in Mississippi that killed all 16 service members on board, prosecutors said Wednesday.

James Fisher, 67, was arrested Tuesday after a federal grand jury in northern Mississippi indicted him, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Clay Joyner.

The statement said Fisher is a former senior propulsion engineer at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex in Warner Robins, Georgia. Fisher, who now lives in Portugal, made an initial court appearance in Jacksonville, Florida.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in northern Mississippi said Wednesday he had no information on whether Fisher is represented by an attorney.

Fifteen Marines and a Navy medic were killed on July 10, 2017, when their Marine Corps KC-130T transport plane broke apart in the sky and crashed into a soybean field near Itta Bena, Mississippi.

The indictment alleges Fisher deliberately concealed engineering documents and made false statements to investigators about his engineering decisions that could have been related to the accident, according to Joyner’s news release.

Fisher faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of two false statements and two counts of obstruction of justice.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are investigating the crash.

Shark attacks 4 swimmers in Texas

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas — Shark attacks interrupted Fourth of July celebrations Thursday on South Padre Island when two people were taken to the hospital with bites, at least one of them in critical condition, authorities said.

Police were called to the attack on the man, who was severely bitten around 11 a.m., according to South Padre Island City Clerk Nikki Soto. He was initially treated on the beach by firefighters and police officers.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department later said in a statement that two people were bitten and two others “had an encounter” with the shark but were not seriously injured. One of the bite victims was taken to a hospital in Brownsville, and the other was “airlifted for further treatment.”

Based on witness reports and images on social media, park ranger Capt. Chris Dowdy said authorities believe a shark about 6 feet long was responsible.

58 hot dogs in 10 minutes takes the title

NEW YORK — Patrick Bertoletti of Chicago devoured 58 hot dogs to win his first men’s title Thursday at the annual Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest.

Bertoletti, 39, beat out 13 competitors from around the world in a test to see who could devour the most hot dogs in 10 minutes.

“I wasn’t going to stop eating until I finished the job,” Bertoletti said.

Bertoletti surpassed his previous record of 55 hot dogs at the event, which is held every Independence Day in Coney Island, New York.

Bertoletti’s win marks the first time since 2015 that the mustard belt has gone to anyone other than Joey “Jaws” Chestnut.

Chestnut was scheduled to compete Thursday at Fort Bliss Army post in El Paso. The contest used traditional sausages and Chestnut attempted to out-eat four soldiers in five minutes.

On Thursday morning, defending champion Miki Sudo of Florida won her 10th title in the women’s division. The 38-year-old dental hygiene student consumed 51 hot dogs in 10 minutes and set a new world record for women.

“I’m happy to be able to say this is mine for another year,” Sudo said after earning his 10th pink belt.

photo Patrick Bertoletti (right) reacts after winning the men’s category at the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, on Thursday. (AP/Julia Nikhinson)