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Posted September 12, 2011 EST

Texas Fire Razes More Than 1,500 Homes
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United States (Texas) - The number of homes destroyed by a Texas wildfire has reached 1,554 and is likely to rise as firefighters enter more areas where the blaze has been extinguished, officials said Sunday. Bastrop County Sheriff Terry Pickering said there was no immediate concern for the 17 people who remain unaccounted for because "they could be on vacation." Blustery wind whipped up by Tropical Storm Lee swept across the parched state last week, helping to spark more than 190 wildfires statewide. The worst one has consumed more than 34,000 acres in this area 30 miles southeast of Austin. Also Sunday:

Residents of many of the 200 homes threatened by a 4,200-acre blaze near Goldendale, Wash., were being allowed to return as firefighters gained ground on the fire burning through dry forests, fire spokesman Chuck Turley said. At least 18 homes have burned.

King memorial to be dedicated Oct. 16

Organizers set Oct. 16 for the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, said Ed Jackson Jr., executive architect of the National Memorial Project Foundation .

The dedication had been planned for Aug. 28, the 48th anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech. It was delayed by Hurricane Irene, which swept through Washington with high winds and rain. Jackson said President Obama is scheduled to speak at the dedication on its new date.

"That was the window of time that we could get on the president's calendar," Jackson said.

Oct. 16 will also be the 16th anniversary of the Million Man March on the National Mall in 1995.

N.C. to consider defining marriage

A North Carolina legislative panel is set to consider a proposal today that would let voters decide whether to define marriage in the state constitution as between a man and a woman.

GOP state Rep. Dale Folwell, who backs the plan, said it's "time that we settled this issue."

But GOP state Rep. Chuck McGrady, who called himself undecided, said lawmakers shouldn't "make the mistake that everything we think is important, we should put it in the constitution." The amendment would require approval by the House and Senate and then by voters in 2012.

Vermont nuke plant's fate goes to court

The state of Vermont and Entergy Corp. go to federal court today over whether the state can force Entergy's Vermont Yankee nuclear plant to close when its 40-year license expires in March.

The three-day trial in Brattleboro will weigh Entergy's claim that the state is improperly trying to close the plant because of safety concerns. Under federal law, safety is solely the province of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin and others say the reasons involve the plant's reliability.

Two dead, two hurt in L.A. shooting

A manhunt was underway in Los Angeles a day after two people, including a 16-year-old boy, were killed at a barbecue when a gunman opened fire from a vehicle that pulled up to the home.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Mary Leef said someone using a rifle also wounded two men; their conditions were not immediately known.

The shooting occurred in unincorporated South Los Angeles, an area known for gang violence. Leef said a motive for the shooting had not been established and no arrests had been made.

Massacre site gains historic status

The southern Utah site of a pioneer-era wagon train massacre gained status Sunday as a national historic landmark.

The 760-acre site marks the Mountain Meadows Massacre, where 120 members of an Arkansas wagon train were shot and killed on Sept. 11, 1857, by a militia made up of Cedar City-area Mormons. The Mormon Church once downplayed its role in the massacre, but it joined the push for landmark status in 2008.

Photos by AP
Written by USA Today

Courtesy of YellowBrix - YellowBrix