Printed on: September 25, 2013

National news briefly


Feds developing fire 'Richter' scale

DENVER (AP) -- Federal researchers have been working on a system to measure and predict the destructiveness of wildfires -- similar to the way officials use the magnitude scale for earthquakes and other tools to rate and evaluate tornadoes and hurricanes.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology hopes its Wildland Urban Interface Hazard Scale will tell residents the likely intensity of a wildfire burning into their neighborhood. The scale would allow city planners to assign better building codes for the millions of people who live in fire-prone areas in the West and would also measure how those homes could contribute to the spread of a fire.

The proposed scale would range from E1 to E4 -- with E4 being a location's highest exposure to fire, be it from grasslands to a forest in a remote mountain canyon. Building codes and buffer zones between homes and forest could then be set accordingly.

Hurt gang member behind Ill. shootings

CHICAGO (AP) -- A Chicago man who was clipped in the leg by gunfire went looking for revenge, leading fellow gang members to a crowded park, where one of them unleashed more than a dozen bullets from an assault rifle in a shooting that wounded 13 people, including a 3-year-old boy, authorities say.

Thursday night's attack at a basketball court on Chicago's southwest side did injure several gang members. But the rapid spray of bullets also struck bystanders in a shooting that has again focused national attention on gang bloodshed in the nation's third-largest city.

Authorities announced Tuesday that four men have been charged, including the suspected primary shooter, a second man accused of firing a .22-caliber revolver, a lookout and the man prosecutors say supplied the assault rifle.

Fight over heiress's will ends in deal

NEW YORK (AP) -- A feud over how an enigmatic heiress meant to bequeath a $300 million fortune made in Montana copper mines and the beginnings of Las Vegas

was settled Tuesday, with a deal that mainly benefits arts charities and her distant relatives.

A nurse

who once stood to inherit as much as $30 million from Huguette Clark will instead have to give back more than $5 million received during Clark's lifetime, and a lawyer and an accountant whose work for Clark came under question won't get bequests that went to them in a disputed will.

The settlement was filed in court and got a judge's approval Tuesday. Word of a pact emerged over the weekend, as a likely two-month trial loomed over the true intentions of a reclusive woman who died at 104 and signed two starkly different wills within six weeks when she was 98.