State Briefs

Posted: Sunday, July 06, 2003

Old tires burn

JUNEAU - Juneau fire officials decided Saturday to let a blaze in a large pile of old tires burn itself out because the fire was too hot to put out.

Eleven firefighters responded at about 12:05 a.m. Saturday to a report of a column of smoke and flame at Capitol Disposal at the landfill near Lemon Creek. Tires in a pile 30 to 50 feet in diameter and 10 feet high were on fire, officials said.

The flames were visible three miles away, Capital City Fire & Rescue Capt. Dave Boddy said. The fire was so hot that officials decided to allow the fire to burn itself out.

The tires have been covered with dirt to help smother the fire, officials said. The city and the state Department of Environmental Conservation are monitoring the fire.

Brown bear sighted

JUNEAU - A woman and her 6-year-old daughter said they saw a brown bear at about 4 a.m. Saturday in Switzer Village Mobile Home Park.

Ricia Wolfe said she and her daughter, Tatiana Messer, who have been ill, were resting on the living room couch when they heard a noise from the back of their pickup truck parked near the living room window.

The bear was eating from a bag of potatoes in the truck bed. It broke a piece of plywood partly laid over a spare tire just by standing on it.

"This thing was brown and this thing was big," said Wolfe, who said she has seen many black bears and this wasn't one of them.

After watching for a few minutes, Wolfe thumped on the window, and the bear stood up in the truck bed, she said. Then it ran away, jumping over a neighbor's 4-foot-tall fence and eventually wandering into a street, she said.

Wolfe said she would report the incident to the police and the state Department of Fish and Game.

Stanley Cup to visit Anchorage

ANCHORAGE - Scott Gomez is bringing the Stanley Cup home to Anchorage.

Gomez, an Anchorage hockey player who helped the New Jersey Devils win their second NHL championship in four seasons, will bring the Stanley Cup to Anchorage on July 15.

The daylong tour will include stops at the Tesoro Sports Centre, Fort Richardson, Delaney Park Strip and Crossroads Lounge.

"We want everyone to have a chance to see it," said Gomez's father, Carlos.

Tradition dictates that every player on the winning team gets the Cup for one day during the off-season.

Gomez, 23, was a standout at East High and played for the Alaska All-Stars.

BP pays fine in death

FAIRBANKS - BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. paid a $6,300 fine imposed by the state for the death of a North Slope worker in December.

A heftier, $11,200 fine imposed on BP contractor NORCON Inc. is still pending. The state office of Occupational Safety and Health cited the companies for lax safety training and procedures.

The fines stem from an accident Dec. 21, 2002, that occurred when Soldotna resident Rodney Rost was welding a pipe at the Prudhoe Bay oil field. Pressure in the pipe blew out a metal plug that struck him, killing him instantly. The pressure was caused by water that froze in a vent line and kept nitrogen from escaping.

Rost was not using a pressure gauge on the job. The state safety office said the two companies should have required a pressure gauge for the welding job and the workers should have been better trained.

BP spokesman Daren Beaudo said the company is deeply saddened by the accident and committed to safety improvements. The fine was paid Thursday.

NORCON president Bill Morrow said his company is still negotiating with the state over its two citations.

Senators do some power fishing on the Kenai

KENAI - Seven U.S. senators and U.S. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans were among the dignitaries who fished in the two-day Kenai River Classic king salmon tournament last week.

The Kenai Classic, now in its 10th year, is about baiting and setting of all kinds of hooks. The VIPs were essentially the live bait for about 75 captains of industry, defense contractors, lobbyists and other players willing to pay $6,000 per couple for the privilege of fishing and mingling with the power elite at the invitation-only event. VIPs fish free.

The biggest lure for many participants is the tournament's host, Alaska's Ted Stevens, the Senate's most senior Republican and chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Stevens also heads the subcommittee that writes the military spending bills, so he's especially important to the defense industry.

"Frankly, he's the reason I think all of us are here," said Ralph Crosby, chairman of EADS North America, one of about a dozen defense contractors that underwrote parts of the tournament. "Everybody loves Senator Stevens and (loves) doing anything to support him."

The tournament is expected to gross about $1 million to pay for riverbank restoration and other projects to preserve the health of the salmon runs on the famous river. Corporate sponsors will contribute about $400,000 of that, said Brett Huber, director of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, which puts on the Classic as a fund-raiser.

Crosby said EADS, the parent company of Europe's Airbus and one of the largest aerospace firms in the world, is hoping to sell the Pentagon a laser-based system that will help helicopters avoid power lines. If it does, the company is thinking of having the systems manufactured in Kenai, he said, because the area has a good work force and the state is hungry for industry.

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