Security Guard Set Fire To Nursery School: 4 Children 1 Teacher Dead

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM AND THE BBC)

 

Four Children and a Teacher Killed After a Security Guard Sets Fire to Brazil Nursery School

Oct 05, 2017

Four young children and a teacher have been killed in what is believed to be an arson attack at a nursery school in Brazil.

Authorities said the suspect is a security guard who allegedly set fire to the daycare center, in Janauba, a town in southeastern Minas Gerais state, the BBC reports.

A further 25 people — mostly children aged between four and five — were hospitalized with burns, with some requiring specialist care at a burns unit in the state capital.

One parent whose son died in the attack told local media that the family was about to move to another neighborhood, according to the BBC.

“I woke up early to drop him at the nursery,” Jane Kelly da Silva Soares told the local O Globo newspaper. “When I saw him again he was already dead in hospital.”

The guard, identified by authorities as 50-year-old Damiao dos Santos, set himself alight at the scene and later died of his injuries in hospital. Police are still looking into the causes of the attack.

Local media reports that dos Santos was sacked from his post in September, upon returning from his annual leave reportedly with a health condition.

President Michael Temer tweeted: “I’m very sorry about this tragedy involving children in Janauba. I want to express my sympathy to the families.”

Janauba’s mayor has declared a seven-day mourning period.

[BBC]

Two 16 Year Old Young Men Face 23 Murder Charges For allegedly Lighting School Fire

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Two boys face 23 murder charges for allegedly lighting school fire

Police and rescue personnel work at an Islamic religious school cordoned off after a deadly fire on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, September 14, 2017.

(CNN)Two teenagers have been charged with 23 counts of murder in Malaysia for allegedly lighting a fire that killed 21 children at an Islamic school in Kuala Lumpur in September.

Two adults also died in the blaze that engulfed Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah Tahfiz religious school in the early hours of September 14.
The two suspects, both aged 16, haven’t entered a plea, according to state news agency Bernama. In Malaysia, a murder charge carries an automatic death sentence, but in cases involving juveniles, the maximum penalty is prison.
The boys were also charged with drug-related offenses, as were four other suspects. One 16-year-old was released without charge due to lack of evidence, deputy public prosecutor Othman Abdullah said.
Two days after the fire, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced special funding of RM30 million ($7 million) to upgrade religious schools across the country.
Authorities have conducted fire safety inspections at 104 of 402 registered religious schools in the state of Selangor, according to Bernama.
Several were found to have faulty wiring and no fire extinguishers, Selangor Fire and Rescue Department director Azmi Osman was quoted as saying.
Authorities are also inspecting a number of unregistered schools, he said.

Family members cry outside the school.

‘So many involved’

Sharifuddin Musa’s son Mohammad Shahir was inside the building when it was allegedly set alight.
The 11-year-old survived the blaze but is still in intensive care. He suffered internal injuries, broken bones and burns to 20% of his body in the fire, Musa told CNN.
Musa was at the court Thursday to find out “who was involved” in the crime.
“We want to know the details. We want to know what is the action to be taken against the perpetrators. I will follow the proceedings.
“I’m very sad because there are so many involved,” Musa said.
He said his son still wants to study at the religious school.
“We see that since he studied there, there have been a lot of changes in him. He is happy and has many friends. We can see that he could manage himself better at the school. So the family is encouraging him.”

Trapped, burned alive

As the fire engulfed the building, witnesses reported being awoken by cries for help from children who appeared trapped by metal window grills.
“I saw children kicking on the grill, but they couldn’t get out. My friends and I rushed over and tried to reach them, but we couldn’t get in,” one witness, Shahirman Shahril told CNN.
When emergency responders arrived, “almost 90% of the building was already on fire,” a fire and rescue department official told reporters.

A forensic police officer investigates burnt windows at an Islamic religious school following the fire.

Many of the victims were found piled on top of each other, while others were discovered in front of the main door, fire and rescue department official spokesman Soiman Jahid told reporters.
One of two fire exits in the building had been blocked by renovations taking place on the second floor, Jahid told CNN.
“The firemen could hear cries for help from inside the building,” spokesman Soiman Jahid said. “The first team from (the) fire station managed to save five of the children from the lower level.”

People console each other outside an Islamic religious school following the fire.

School shouldn’t have been open, official says

The building where the fire erupted was new and had been used as a religious school specializing in Quranic studies, said Deputy Inspector General of Police Noor Rashid Ibraham.
But the school’s license had been under review by authorities, and the facility should not have been in operation, said Malaysia’s minister of urban well-being, housing and local government, Noh Omar.
The charges came shortly after a fire partially gutted another religious school in Serembam, around 20 miles south of the capital on Thursday.
Local press reported that the fire department received the distress call at around 1.50 a.m. local time (1.50 p.m. Wednesday ET).
All 37 students housed in the school’s hostel managed to escape, and three had to be treated for smoke inhalation.

‘Pops,’ Followed By Black Smoke And Fire, Reported At Storm-Crippled Texas Chemical Plant

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

‘Pops,’ followed by black smoke and fire, reported at storm-crippled Texas chemical plant

 August 31 at 9:56 AM

The flooded Arkema Inc. chemical plant is seen on Wednesday. (Godofredo A. Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)

CROSBY, Tex. — The operators of a chemical plant left without power by floodwaters said Thursday that possible explosions have been reported at the facility, and they warned that more problems could occur as rising temperatures make the highly flammable compounds inside volatile and dangerous.

Arkema, the French chemicals group that runs the plant, said in a statement that it was notified by the Harris County Emergency Operations Center “of two explosions and black smoke” coming from the facility, which was under about six feet of water from the relentless rains unleashed by Harvey.

Local authorities later said there weren’t explosions at the facility, but rather “pops” followed by smoke and fire. But Arkema urged residents to stay clear of a temporary evacuation zone set up Wednesday, and said in its statement that “a threat of additional explosion remains.”

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office reported “a series of chemical reactions” and “intermittent smoke” at the facility, about 25 miles northeast of Houston.

Bob Royall, assistant chief for emergency operations for the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office, said there were “small container ruptures that may have a sound” — like “a series of pops.”

“I don’t want the public thinking these are massive explosions,” Royall told reporters.

“I want to be very clear: It was not an explosion,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.

He added: “It is not anything toxic; it is not anything that we feel is a danger to the community at all.”

The plant in Crosby manufactures organic peroxides, a family of compounds used in everything from pharmaceuticals to construction materials such as counter tops and pipes.

A variety of federal agencies have warned about the dangers of organic peroxides. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration warns that “contact of organic peroxides with the eyes should be avoided. Some organic peroxides will cause serious injury to the cornea, even after brief contact, or will be corrosive to the skin.”

It added that “many organic peroxides also burn vigorously.”

An earlier study done for the Environmental Protection Agency found that organic peroxides are skin and eye irritants and could also cause liver damage.

Smoke from the plant left at least one sheriff’s deputy in need of medical treatment. A total of 15 deputies were evaluated by medical teams as a precaution, and most were later released from the hospital after experiencing what Gonzalez, the sheriff, referred to as respiratory irritation. “We believe the smoke is a non-toxic irritant,” he said.

The incident was reported between midnight and 1 a.m. on Thursday, and local authorities and Arkema officials had warned earlier that such problems were likely.

The material at the plant must remain cold — otherwise it can combust. “The material naturally degrades and some types can be unstable unless refrigerated,” Arkema explained.

The facility’s coolant system and inundated backup power generators failed, according to the company. Primary power at the plant went out on Sunday, and two sources of emergency backup power were lost shortly thereafter.

At that point, Richard Rowe, chief executive of Arkema’s North American unit, warned that trouble was likely.

“We have lost critical refrigeration of the materials on site that could now explode and cause a subsequent intense fire,” Rowe said in a statement Wednesday. “The high water and lack of power leave us with no way to prevent it. We have evacuated our personnel  for their own safety. The federal, state and local authorities were contacted a few days ago, and we are working very closely with them to manage this matter.  They have ordered the surrounding community to be evacuated, too.”

In the statement, Rowe apologized “to everyone impacted by our situation.”

A mandatory evacuation zone was established for a 1.5-mile radius Wednesday as the last remaining workers at the facility attempted to resolve the problem. Police cruisers and SUVs sealed off access to the plant on Highway 90, which connects Houston and Beaumont. Parts of the highway nearby were underwater.

A continuous flow of trucks, many hauling boats to participate in flood rescue efforts, approached the police barricade near the facility Wednesday afternoon only to be turned away as Crosby Volunteer Fire Department trucks crisscrossed the highway cut-through roads.

A Crosby, Tex. volunteer fireman with an evacuee in tow answers questions on road closures from bystanders near a chemical plant authorities said is going to explode. (Alex Horton/The Washington Post)

The facility, the company noted, “is in a rural area with no hospitals, schools, correctional facilities or recreational areas or industrial/commercial areas in the vicinity.” Arkema said the plant, which employs 57 people, “has never experienced flooding of this magnitude before.”

Ahead of Harvey’s arrival, “the plant made extensive preparations,” bringing extra backup generators to the facility, along with diesel-powered refrigerated tank trailers, Arkema said. But the generators were inundated by water and failed. At that point, the company said, “temperature-sensitive products” were transferred into the diesel-powered refrigerated containers.

Still, the company said Wednesday, “the most likely outcome is that, anytime between now and the next few days, the low-temperature peroxide in unrefrigerated trailers will degrade and catch fire. There is a small possibility that the organic peroxide will release into the floodwaters but will not ignite and burn. … In the alternate, there could be a combination event involving fire and environmental release. Any fire will probably resemble a large gasoline fire. The fire will be explosive and intense. Smoke will be released into the atmosphere and dissipate. People should remain clear of the area.”

The Associated Press reported that Arkema was previously required “to develop and submit a risk management plan to the Environmental Protection Agency, because it has large amounts of sulfur dioxide, a toxic chemical, and methylpropene, a flammable gas.”

The plans are supposed to detail the effects of a potential release, evaluate worst-case scenarios and explain a company’s response. In its most recently available submission from 2014, Arkema said potentially 1.1 million residents could be impacted over a distance of 23 miles (37 kilometers) in a worse case scenario, according to information compiled by a nonprofit group and posted on a website hosted by the Houston Chronicle.

But, Arkema added, it was using “multiple layers of preventative and mitigation measures” at the plant, including steps to reduce the amount of substances released, and that made the worst case “very unlikely.”

On Wednesday, James and Deborah Hyer sat, frustrated, in a white pickup truck with a plant water tower in view. They were waiting with their three young children for the police to clear out so they could return to their home in Dayton, about 10 miles north of the barricade.

They were out of milk and water, with local stores either closed or cleaned out of supplies.

Their newly purchased double-wide trailer on top of a hill escaped much of the floodwaters, Deborah Hyer said, but some of their friends living at the bottom experienced complete devastation.

“They lost everything,” she said. One friend of hers, a single mother of five children, lived in a house on 17-foot stilts, but the water rose so high she had to evacuate, she said.

In tiny Kenefick to the northeast, neighborhoods built on the floodplains and banks of the Trinity River were destroyed, and relatives of friends who tried to evacuate were still missing.

 Play Video 0:54
Houston hero rescues neighbors from Harvey’s floodwaters
Howard Harris purchased a boat last time his hometown of Cypress, Tex., flooded. Now, as Harvey unleashes record levels of rain on Houston and surrounding areas, Harris is making sure his neighbors can evacuate safely. (Kurt Kuykendall, Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)

As in other areas like Houston and its western suburb of Katy, residents remarked on the quick response of volunteers with fishing boats fanning out as self-deputized rescue units.

“Some authorities are helping, but civilians like the Cajun Navy are helping the most,” James Hyer said.

A Crosby Volunteer Fire Department truck with flashing lights stopped as another man flagged him down to get updates on alternate routes to Dayton.

“We have nowhere to go,” James Hyer pleaded to the firefighter.

“I’d go away from here,” the firefighter responded, though he conceded he did not know which nearby back roads were flooded or, like Highway 90, sealed by police. The Hyer family, resigned, turned around with their backs to Dayton.

Cleveland Walters, Jr. waits for a police barricade to close down on Highway 90 in Crosby, Tex. Police sealed off the highway following reports of an imminent explosion at a chemical plant after floodwaters damaged its coolant systems. (Alex Horton/The Washington Post)

Cleveland Walters Jr., who also lives in Dayton, waited more than an hour outside his black GMC pickup to get home, where his wife and elderly 92-year old father needed to be cared for, he said.

“Dayton is where all my medicine is,” he said, ticking off the medical issues stemming from Agent Orange he said he was exposed to while serving in the U.S. Air Force in Guam during the final years of the Vietnam War.

The runways for B-52 Stratofortress bombers taking off were choked with jungles, and the defoliant sprayed around his tent sparked skin and gastrointestinal problems. He takes about 30 pills a day, he said, and had only a limited supply with him as he sat on Highway 90.

But Walters wasn’t overly concerned about the plant’s reported impending explosion, after working in the oil industry for many years after his service.

“I drive by it about every day. It is what it is,” he said. He left soon after, and like the Hyer family, put more distance between himself and Dayton as rescue vehicles roared to Beaumont.

Mufson and du Lac reported from Washington. Brian Murphy and Mark Berman contributed to this report, which has been updated.

Fire Cuts Off Return Route for Dozens of Glacier National Park Visitors

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

 

Fire Cuts Off Return Route for Dozens of Glacier National Park Visitors

9:53 AM ET 8-12-2017

(HELENA, Mont.) — A wildfire has cut off the return route for dozens of people staying in a Glacier National Park backcountry chalet, leaving them the choice of remaining until rangers tell them it’s safe or hiking out along a longer and more difficult trail, park officials said Friday.

Park rangers also planned to lead out 39 other hikers who were staying in backcountry campsites near fires that broke out after a passing lightning storm on Thursday, Glacier spokeswoman Lauren Alley said.

It’s peak tourist season at the Montana park, and the stone chalet built more than a century ago is a top attraction in one of the busiest parts of Glacier. There are typically between 40 and 50 guests and 10 staff members at the chalet each night, with most visitors arriving by foot or horse along a steep trail nearly 7 miles (11 kilometers) from Lake McDonald Lodge on the park’s main roadway.

A lightning strike ignited a fire in the forest somewhere between the lodge and the chalet. Neither structure is threatened, but park officials determined that it was unsafe for those at the chalet to return by the same trail Friday.

Thirty-nine of the 42 guests staying at the Sperry Chalet decided to hike out and three stayed behind, said Suzie Menke, the office manager of Belton Chalets Inc., which runs the chalet.

They must take a rugged trail more than 13 miles (21 kilometers) long that crosses two mountain passes and can take eight to 10 hours to walk. That trail ends up on the eastern side of the park, on the other side of the Continental Divide from Lake McDonald Lodge.

For those who stay, the chalet has running water, a full-service kitchen and 17 private rooms — but it doesn’t have electricity and only spotty cellphone coverage.

“The good news is they got resupplied yesterday,” Alley said.

Park officials confirmed three small fires started after Thursday’s lightning storm. The one affecting Sperry Chalet is the largest at about 10 acres (40,500 square meters).

Despite the sudden outbreak of fires, most areas of the park are still open to the record number of tourists who are flocking to Glacier this year. More than 1 million people visited the park in July, the first time so many people have been in Glacier over the course of a single month.

Dozens of fires are burning across the West, and federal and state fire managers planned to raise the National Fire Preparedness Level to its highest point on Friday. That Level 5 signals most firefighting resources are being used and that assistance may be needed from military and other nations. The level was last raised to 5 in 2015.

In Oregon, a fire on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation destroyed two houses and threatened dozens of others. The fire had burned more than 30 square miles (78 square kilometers) by late Thursday, and one firefighter suffered a minor injury.

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