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Archive for Monday, November 26, 2001

Nation briefs

November 26, 2001

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Pennsylvania

Coal mine fire fought

The state plans to dig up 4 acres of a suburban Pittsburgh park to put out an underground coal mine fire that's been burning for decades.

The remedy will destroy trees, trails and picnic shelters at the 1,100-acre Boyce Park, but state officials fear the fire could cause more damage if left to burn.

"Here is a fire burning near picnic pavilions, near parking lots," said Steve Jones, a supervising geologist with the state Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation. "If it burned through the park, it would emerge in the vicinity of some housing developments. Clearly, we don't want that."

Officials don't know how the fire started. It was thought to have been extinguished in 1961, but workers in the park noticed smoke about 12 years ago.

The fire is burning in the Pittsburgh Coal Seam in an abandoned section of the Plum Creek Mine. In 1953, there were 44 such uncontrolled mine fires in Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh.

Five fires remain, and the Boyce Park fire ranks as the bureau's highest priority.

Washington, D.C.

Elephant born at zoo

natzoo.si.edu

What weighs 325 pounds and is new at the National Zoo? A newborn baby elephant.

The male calf, born Sunday afternoon, took its first steps shortly after birth, zoo officials said.

"We are all so excited," said National Zoo Director Dr. Lucy Spelman. "Very few elephant calves are born in zoos each year, so this is a very special event."

For one thing, it is very difficult to mate females and bulls, because few zoos have males in captivity or the proper facilities for bulls.

The calf was conceived through artificial insemination, only the fifth such success in the world, Spelman said.

The baby was born to the youngest of the zoo's Asian elephants, 25-year-old Shanthi.

Elephants carry their young for 22 months, and Shanthi had been expected to deliver in December.

There has been no decision on a name, officials said.

Chicago

Dynamite found in trash

Two suitcases filled with 30 pounds of dynamite were found Sunday in a trash bin just south of downtown Chicago, police said.

Police said the dynamite was not part of a bomb and did not pose a threat. No detonator was found.

Dozens of residents were evacuated and service to nearby Chicago Transit Authority rail lines was halted as a precaution. The CTA was providing a shuttle service for stranded passengers.

"It appears that someone may have dumped it there some time ago," said police spokesman Carlos Herrera. "It doesn't appear to be a threat or terrorist act; it appears to have been dumped by somebody."

A homeless man discovered the suitcases in a Dumpster, Herrera said. The man then flagged down a police car, Herrera said.

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