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Friday
Apr292016

Natural Gas Explosion Creates Massive Fireball

Instagram/@tonilconrad(SALEM, Pa.) -- A natural gas explosion erupted into a massive ball of fire near Salem Township, Pennsylvania, Friday morning. One person was injured.

Forbes Road Fire Department Chief Bob Rosatti said in a press conference it was the “biggest ball of fire I’ve ever seen.” As firetrucks "were coming around the bend, it looked like you were looking down in hell,” he added.

The Forbes Road Fire Department was dispatched at 8:17 a.m. after multiple calls of a huge fire. Spectra Energy reported the incident, which involved the Texas Eastern pipeline owned by the company.

“Our first concern is for the safety of the community, our employees and any others who may be affected. We have activated our emergency response plan,” Creighton Welch, manager of external communications for Spectra Energy, said in a statement.

One man sustained burns after running out of his home and being exposed to the heat from the fire ball. The man described the explosion as a loud noise like a tornado.

The Delmont Fire Department said homes and businesses within a one-mile radius were evacuated. By 9:30 a.m. the flames started to die down and it was mostly black smoke, according to the fire department.

Approximately 10 to 12 homes remain in the evacuation zone. The explosion is being investigated.

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Friday
Apr292016

Graffiti Etched Into Famed Rock Formation Might Be Irreparable

Alice de Anguera/National Park Service(SALT LAKE CITY) -- Staffers at the Arches National Park in Utah are speaking out against the rise in graffiti after discovering one of the ancient rock formations in the park was vandalized a couple weeks ago -- and the damage might be irreparable.

“There has been an enormous problem with graffiti in the past couple years,” Kate Cannon, superintendent of Arches National Park, told ABC News Friday. Graffiti is prevalent in arches and canyonlands in parks all over the country, according to Cannon.

This most recent incident on April 15 was at the Frame Arch, where the words “Staten” and “Andersen” were carved deeply into the famed rock formation.

The park has been victim to graffiti “of all types,” from minor scratches and paint to larger defacements, such as the etching in the Frame Arch, according to Cannon. But the park staff decided to use this most recent incident to post the photos and send a message to the public that the graffiti is doing “significant damage” and needs to “be made socially unacceptable.”

Cannon said the park does not have a way of boosting up surveillance and they won’t be closing areas of the park. “We have as our purpose to make parks available to the public, so there aren’t really good solutions in closing it for us. That defeats our purpose,” she said.

The hope is that “just as the graffiti trend accelerated and grew, we can push it back with the public’s help,” Cannon said. She urges the public to report when they see defacement or see someone defacing the land.

People caught in the act can face a $5,000 fine and up to six months in jail, according to Cannon.

The park staff is thinking about filling back in the rock where the graffiti was scratched in, but “we know that if we do, we will have to go back and repair it over and over again,” Cannon said, adding that the same rock formation “was extensively cleaned of graffiti in last couple of years."

"How many times can you grind it down until it is no longer there?" she asked.

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Friday
Apr292016

NYC Police Looking for Man Who Reportedly Offered Boy to Tourist for Sex

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New York City police say are investigating a report of a man who allegedly offered up a boy for sex in exchange for money in Central Park Thursday night.

A tourist in the park, a 50-year-old male, was allegedly "asked if he wanted to perform sexual acts with the child for $300.00," police told ABC News.

Authorities say they are treating the report as credible, and they are looking for the man and boy, who are both described as white and approximately 35 and 11 years old, respectively.

The man was described as being clean shaven, having dark hair and wearing a black coat with a furry hood and blue jeans. The child was wearing either an orange or red jacket.

The incident reportedly happened at around 11:49 p.m. Thursday night in the area of Central Park near the Bow Bridge on West 74th Street.

Police told ABC News they cannot confirm reports that the man is the child's father.

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Friday
Apr292016

FAA Investigating Two Emergency Landings at Philadelphia International Airport

iStock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating two emergency landings Friday morning at Philadelphia International Airport.

Both incidents occurred just after 8 a.m. ET, according to an FAA spokesperson.

Republic Airlines 4518, on its way to Philadelphia from Toronto, reported steering problems while in flight.

Piedmont Airlines 4801 was also on its way to Philadelphia when it reported smoke in the cockpit and cabin.

An FAA spokesperson said passengers evacuated the aircraft on the runway via emergency slides.

The airport has returned to full operations, with residual delays.

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Friday
Apr292016

Congress Passes Bill to Make Bison First 'National Mammal'

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Republicans and Democrats in Congress agree on one thing -- the American bison will become the country's first national mammal.

The House and Senate acted quickly this week to send The National Bison Legacy Act to the president's desk. The bill would designate the bison, the largest land mammal in America, a national icon beside the bald eagle.

The House approved the measure Wednesday and the Senate moved Thursday to concur on the proposal.

Millions of bison grazed across North America before westward expansion decimated the population. Advocates believe formally recognizing the bison will help protect its place in American cultural and natural history.

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Friday
Apr292016

Suspicious White Powder Sent to Donald Trump Not Hazardous: Officials

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  A suspicious white powder was discovered at Trump Tower in Manhattan Thursday night, prompting the New York Fire Department, the New York Police Department and EMS workers to investigate -- but the powder was deemed not hazardous, according to the NYPD.

Samples were taken, however, from the scene for further testing.

According to the NYFD, the first responders were called to the Fifth Avenue hi-rise around 8:15 p.m.

The suspicious white powder was discovered on the 5th floor, according to the NYFD.

ABC-owned WABC in New York reported that the powder was found in the mailroom, in an envelope with a letter addressed to GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

The letter was opened by one of Trump's staffers, according to WABC.

Three people were isolated and evaluated.

A Trump campaign source tells ABC News the 5th floor offices were evacuated, but most of the staff had left for the day.

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Friday
Apr292016

Decorated Green Beret Won't Be Forced out of Army for Assault of Afghan Officer

U.S. Army(NEW YORK) --  The Army has decided it will not dismiss a decorated Army Green Beret sergeant who attacked an Afghan police commander, who he said repeatedly raped a village boy, in 2011.

While deployed in 2011, Sgt. First Class Charles Martland admitted that he and his team leader had roughed up the local Afghan police commander, who he said raped the young boy for days. His team leader, Captain Dan Quinn, was removed from command and later left the Army.

Martland was reprimanded for his role in the incident, which occurred after he and Quinn decided they could no longer ignore the abuse they said the commander committed. The Army began the process to separate him from active duty after a negative evaluation of that incident was placed on his permanent record.

The process, known as the Army's Qualitative Management Program (QMP), removes non-commissioned officers from service when their actions do not meet Army standards.

Some members of Congress have voiced support for Martland and criticized the Army for trying to force out a decorated solder who had confronted a child molester.

As a last step, Martland challenged the Army's process by appealing to the Army Board for Correction of Military Records.

In a statement released Thursday evening, the Army announced that Martland's evaluation record had been amended, an action that would stop the process of his removal via the QMP.

"The Army Board for Correction of Military Records determination modified a portion of one of SFC Martland’s evaluation reports and removed him from the QMP list, which will allow him to remain in the Army," the statement said.

"The Army Board for Correction of Military Records considers each case on its own merit when determining to grant or deny an applicant’s request," said the statement. "It is incumbent upon the applicant to provide evidence, argument and relevant documents in support of demonstrating an alleged error or injustice. In addition to information provided by the applicant, boards also consider information in available personnel, medical and staff agency records and information provided by subject matter experts."

An Army official told ABC News that Martland has been permanently removed from the current QMP list and the modified evaluation has been added to his official records.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Apr292016

Original Forensic Drawings of Manson Jane Doe Were 'Inaccurate,' Sister Says

LAPD(LOS ANGELES) -- The sister of the Jane Doe who was found near the Charles Manson killings in 1969 in Los Angeles said the original forensic sketches of the body were "inaccurate."

The Los Angeles Police Department announced on Wednesday that "Jane Doe No. 59" had finally been identified as 19-year-old Reet Silvia Jurvetson, who was discovered in brush off Mulholland Drive on Nov. 16, 1969, more than three months after Manson ordered his followers to brutally murder five people at the home of director Roman Polanski.

Jurvetson had been stabbed numerous times in the upper torso and neck area, the LAPD said, and efforts to identify her failed. Her 73-year-old sister, Anne, said the composite drawings of Jurvetson's body bore little resemblance to her.

"Some people thought they recognized her," Anne wrote in a memorial. "Unfortunately, these drawings were clearly inaccurate, as anyone can see, and did not resemble her in the least."

The 19-year-old had just moved to Los Angeles from Montreal when she was killed, Anne wrote. She had lost contact with her family shortly after the move, according to police.

In December 2003, an LAPD detective submitted a piece of biological evidence to be uploaded into NamUs, a national database for unidentified missing and deceased victims. In June of last year, a family friend was browsing through the database when she saw a post-mortem photograph of Jane Doe No. 59 and notified the Jurvetson family, police said.

A DNA test was compared to members of the Jurvetson family, finally revealing Jane Doe No. 59 as Jurvetson more than 46 years after her death. Investigators interviewed Manson in prison and were unable to make a connection to the notorious murders, the LAPD said.

Jurvetson was born on Sept. 23, 1950 and was the youngest in the family, who had fled Estonia in 1944 during World War II, her sister wrote. The family moved to Canada one year after Jurvetson was born.

Anne described her sister as a "lovely, free-spirited and happy girl." She said Reet enjoyed art and sewing her own clothes.

She "developed a taste for adventure and freedom" during her teenage years and was "naive and trusting of others," Anne wrote. She had visited California in the fall of 1969, and the family found out she decided to stay after receiving a postcard from her describing her "nice apartment in Los Angeles." She told them not to worry and that she was happy, Anne said.

As time passed, the family stopped hearing from her. They figured she was "making a new life for herself."

"Attempts were made to reach her, but they proved fruitless," Anne wrote. "Initially, we believed that Reet was probably in search of more autonomy, and therefore we waited for her to get in touch with us."

Anne said the family did not suspect she had been killed and never thought to report her missing to the police.

"They thought that she was just living her life somewhere and that eventually news from her would turn up," she wrote. "But sadly, we did not know how to find someone on the other side of the continent, in another country, if that was even where she still was."

The coroner's report said Jurvetson had not been raped but stated she'd been stabbed more than 150 times, Anne wrote. There were no traces of drugs or alcohol in her system and her internal organs were "unremarkable," she added.

Anne shared details of her sister's life in hopes that the murderer will be identified, she said. The investigation into Jurvetson's death is ongoing, police said.

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Thursday
Apr282016

FBI Arrest Oregon Man Who Threatened President, Find Pipe Bombs

iStock/Thinkstock(MEDFORD, Ore.) -- FBI Agents and police arrested a man in Medford, Oregon after, charging him with "Threatening the President of the United States" and use of an interstate facility to transmit threats, according to a statement from the FBI sent to ABC News.

The police and FBI found what appeared to be several pipe bombs in the apartment when they took John Martin Roos, 61, into custody, the statement said.

The Oregon State Police Explosives Unit confirmed that they have, "rendered the devices safe."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Apr282016

United Airlines Flight Makes Emergency Landing Due to 'Engine Issue'

iStock/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND) -- A United Airlines aircraft bound for Omaha, Nebraska, made an emergency landing in Cleveland Thursday less than two hours after departing from Newark, New Jersey, due to an undisclosed engine issue, the airline confirmed.

United Airlines flight 38, a Boeing 737, departed Newark Liberty International Airport at 3:41 p.m., and was scheduled to arrive in Omaha at 5:46 p.m. Central Standard Time, according to the airline's website.

But after the pilot declared an emergency, the flight landed at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport at 5:36 p.m. Eastern Time, according to United's website.

According to a United spokesperson, the flight -- which had 114 passengers and 5 crew members on board -- declared an emergency following an "engine issue." It landed without incident.

The spokesperson said the plane was being inspected.

The FAA also confirmed the incident, releasing this statement: "A United B737 flying from Newark to Omaha diverted and landed in Cleveland for a reported engine issue. The aircraft landed without incident. The FAA will begin an investigation."

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