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NEW YORK (AP) — New York City authorities say a fire at a Bronx apartment building that killed three boys may have been started by candles after electricity was cut.

Fire officials say Friday's fire started in a second-floor apartment of a six-story building just blocks from Yankee Stadium. Five-year-old Elijah Artis, 2-year-old Jeremiah Artis and 4-month-old Michael Turner were pronounced dead at a hospital.

Police say their 25-year-old mother and her two other children, a, 4-year-old girl and 4-month-old girl, are stable.

Fire marshals are still investigating the blaze, but authorities said Saturday she had been using candles to light the home. Con Edison says the power was cut because of unpaid bills.

The building is about 10 blocks from the site of a 2007 fire that killed 10 people, including 8 children.

Published in National News

   The passengers of a St. Louis-bound American Airlines flight finally arrived at Lambert International Airport after a small fire on their plane forced it to return to O'Hare International Airport.  

   Officials with the airline say smoke was discovered in the cabin of the MD-80 shortly after takeoff Thursday evening.  The flight crew put out the fire and the plane landed safely back at O'Hare.  

   The 120 passengers were placed on a later flight and arrived in St. Louis about 11 p.m.  

   There were no injuries reported

Published in Local News
Wednesday, 18 September 2013 01:16

Sandy continues to damage Jersey shore with fire

   TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) — Superstorm Sandy still isn't done with the Jersey shore — investigators are blaming the storm for damaging electrical wiring that touched off last week's devastating boardwalk fire in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights.

   And they also said similar danger could be lurking elsewhere underneath other boardwalks, businesses or homes that were exposed to flood waters from the Oct. 29 storm.

   "I'm sure on every boardwalk everywhere (at the Jersey shore), there may be compromised wiring," said Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato. "We don't want to start a panic mode; we just want to be reasonable. If you're a property owner and you think your electrical work came in contact with water and sand, we strongly recommend you have it inspected."

   Gov. Chris Christie's administration decided the state will use Sandy-recovery money to pay for debris removal. He also pledged $15 million in Sandy money to help rebuild the burned businesses.

   Christie said Tuesday the state will let businesses affected by the fire postpone filing sales and use tax returns that were due this month until Oct. 21 to help them recover.

   The boardwalk fire began accidentally Thursday in aged wiring that had been compromised by salt water and sand during the Oct. 29 storm, federal and county investigators said at a news conference Tuesday. The wind-whipped blaze destroyed more than 50 businesses in the two towns.

   Seaside Heights Mayor William Akers, reached after the briefing, said there is no issue with potentially compromised wiring on the surviving sections of the boardwalk.

   "We did a total rebuild. All 16 blocks got all new wiring," he said.

   In Point Pleasant Beach, one of the approximately half-dozen Sandy-ravaged towns where businesses with electrical connections are located on the boardwalk, Mayor Vincent Barrella said streetlight wiring is all new in a section of the boardwalk that was rebuilt last winter.

   But he said about half the boardwalk, including sections in front of businesses, still needs to be redone this winter. After the prosecutor issued his warning, Barrella said he instructed borough officials to work with the local electric company and identify any wiring that might need to be replaced as part of the upcoming work.

   Flood-damaged wiring caused fires in several houses in Sandy-damaged communities once power was turned back on last November. Many homeowners had to replace their electrical wiring and main electrical boxes before moving back in.

   Investigators said last week's fire began in wiring that dated to the 1970s, and was located under a Kohr's frozen custard stand and the Biscayne Candies shop last Thursday afternoon.

   Jessica Gotthold, a senior special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said investigators located wires under the boardwalk that somehow came in contact with each other, causing an electrical arc that is believed to have started the fire. Coronato said those wires had been exposed to the storm surge and grating sand action of the storm, which compromised them.

   But as far as why the wires contacted each other, he said, "we will never know."

   The prosecutor said the investigation ruled out all other possible causes of the fire, including careless smoking or a deliberate act of arson. The wiring was inaccessible to the public, he noted.

   Authorities even pulled financial records of the businesses involved in the blaze to make sure no one had a financial motive to start a fire.

   "We left no stone unturned," he said. "This was not a suspicious fire."

Published in National News

Crews still on the scene of a fire at a south St. Louis County recycling center.

Fire officials closed down an exit from I-55 to Bayless so they could battle the flames. At its peak, the the fire was a four alarm blaze. Workers evacuated the facility.

No word on any injuries and still no word on what started the fire.

Published in Local News

   Smoke from a blaze at a recycling plant could cause problems for some drivers in the Earth City area Friday morning.  Smoke was reported to be hanging over Highway 370 near Missouri Bottom Road just before sunrise.  

   The fire began in large mulch piles along Missouri Bottom Road near Earth City Expressway around midnight.  As of 5 a.m., fire crews were still trying to put it out.  

   Hazelwood police had blocked several local roads around that fire scene.

Published in Local News

Authorities confirm that one man is dead after a house fire in North St. Louis.

Firefighters were called to the house at the intersection of Lotus and Kingshighway just before 3 PM. The firefighters found the man on the second floor of the home and were unable to revive him.

Investigators continue their work to determine the cause of the fire.

 

Published in Local News
Friday, 09 August 2013 02:15

California wildfire destroys 26 homes

   BEAUMONT, Calif. (AP) — A rapidly spreading wildfire chewed through a rugged Southern California mountain range on Thursday, destroying more than two dozen homes, threatening more than 500 other residences and forcing some 1,800 people to flee.

   Six people were injured, while more than 1,400 firefighters and nine helicopters battled the flames as they pushed eastward along the San Jacinto Mountains, a desert range 90 miles east of Los Angeles, Cal Fire Riverside Chief John R. Hawkins said.

   A man near the origin of the fire suffered serious burns, Hawkins said. Five firefighters were also injured, including two who suffered heat exhaustion. Officials did not have details to release on the other three.

   After surveying badly charred areas, many of which burned amid the fire's out-of-control growth in the hours after it broke out, officials said 26 homes and one commercial building were destroyed and two other structures were damaged.

   Hawkins said the wind-fed fire that sparked at 2:05 p.m. Wednesday is one of the "most rapidly spreading, dangerous fires that I've seen" in his 50 years as a firefighter.

   The fire was estimated at nearly 22 square miles Thursday, with 20 percent containment, but it was growing, causing concern that the direction could change in the area, which is known as a wind tunnel.

   "The conditions at the front right now are very dangerous," Hawkins said.

   Authorities still have not determined what caused the fire.

   Evacuation orders were issued in five towns. Flames were marching toward the hardscrabble town of Cabazon, where hundreds scrambled to leave in the pre-dawn hours Thursday as the mountain ridge behind their homes glowed red.

   Many returned after sunrise to pack up more belongings and watch the flickering line of fire snaking along the brown, scrubby mountains.

   Linda Walls, 62, sat with her family in lawn chairs and watched fire crews scrambling to douse the flames marching toward her modest home less than a quarter mile away. An American flag flapped in the gusty wind that kicked up the fire. She wiped her brow, feeling the scorching heat.

   Gray and pink-tinted clouds billowed across the otherwise crystal blue sky. Neighbors could be heard coughing as they filled the beds of pickup trucks with motocross bikes, boxes of clothing, toys and packaged food.

   "It seems to be taking off now," she said as sirens whirred by. "All you see are the firemen inside the blaze."

   At the end of her street, a group of ostriches paced in their cages as the hill above them burned. A firefighter rushing by said they would do what they can to protect them. Nearby another pen was filled with goats.

   In the nearby town of Banning, Lili Arroyo, 83, left with only her pet cockatiel, Tootsie, in its cage and a bag of important papers from her home, which was rebuilt after being destroyed in a 2006 wildfire.

   "The smoke was so bad you couldn't see," said Arroyo, who lives in the town of Banning. "There were embers and ash coming down all over the sky. The smoke was really thick. I was starting not to be able to breathe."

   Evacuation orders covered an RV resort called the Silent Valley Club, the rural communities of Poppet Flats, Twin Pines, Edna Valley and Vista Grande, portions of the city of Cabazon along Interstate 10, and a camping area known as Black Mountain.

   A veteran of many evacuations, Dana Wright, 43, wiped away a tear as she entered a shelter at a Beaumont school and went with her family to watch TV news. She had no idea whether her Poppet Flats home of 11 years had survived. Friends said a nearby home had burned.

   She and her husband hoped to find a way back up into the mountains. "I just want to look to see if we have a house," she said.

   Most of Southern California's severe wildfires are associated with Santa Ana winds caused by high pressure over the West that sends a clockwise flow of air rushing down into the region.

   This week's fire, however, was being fanned by a counter-clockwise flow around a low pressure area over northwest California.

   It was the second major wildfire in the San Jacinto Mountains this summer. A blaze that erupted in mid-July spread over 43 square miles on peaks above Palm Springs, burned seven homes and forced 6,000 people out of Idyllwild and neighboring towns.

   The latest fire also burned in the footprint of the notorious Esperanza Fire, a 2006, wind-driven inferno that overran a U.S. Forest Service engine crew. All five crew members died. A man was convicted of setting the fire and sentenced to death.

   After touring the area, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who lives in Riverside County, said 165,000 acres have burned in California this year and climate change is setting conditions for more disastrous blazes, while budget cuts are limiting resources to fight them.

   "Unless we take action, things are only going to get worse," she said.

   A different blaze, a 60-acre wildfire, near Wrightwood in the San Gabriel Mountains forced evacuations of about 75 homes in several mountain communities Thursday afternoon.

   The fire broke out around noon, and firefighters struggled to beat back flames in steep terrain. Homes along several winding mountain roads were being evacuated.

   Wrightwood is a mountain community popular with skiers located about 40 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

 

___

 

Associated Press writer John Antczak in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Published in National News

Charges are filed against a St. Louis woman who bragged on Facebook about lighting a dog on fire.

On July 10, a dog owner found his pet on fire in the back yard of his house. The dog, named Brownie, died from the injuries. Police say they were alerted to a post on Facebook, in which the poster, identified as Adrienne Martin, referenced setting the animal on fire.

The post read “I’m on killa mode… kill dogs… today. I mean what I say and I say what I mean… all dogs don’t go to heaven.”

Martin was charged with felony animal abuse and knowingly burning on Thursday. No word on whether she is in police custody at this time.  

Published in Local News

   NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A federal official has confirmed that a fire has broken out on a blown-out Gulf of Mexico gas well.

   Eileen Angelico of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement confirmed to The Associated Press that the evacuated rig caught fire late Tuesday. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

   The drilling rig involved was evacuated early Tuesday when the blowout occurred.

   Angelico says it wasn't immediately clear what caused the gas to ignite. And it wasn't known what efforts to extinguish the blaze were being made early Wednesday.

   Personnel with Wild Well Control Inc. were at the site to assess how and when to try to bring the well under control.

   

Published in National News

 CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) - A Southeast Missouri State University building will remain closed through mid-August after a rooftop fire.

 

   The university made the announcement Thursday after insurers and engineers assessed the damage that Monday's fire caused to Robert A. Dempster Hall. The building houses business programs and some administrative offices.

 

   The university said in a news release that portions of the building sustained roof, water and smoke damage. Vice president for finance and administration, Kathy Mangels, says the first priority is to get classrooms ready for the fall semester.

 

   During the closure, students and staff have been moved to alternative locations.

Published in Local News
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