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story.lead_photo.caption Smoke from a wildfire blackens the horizon Thursday in Oroville, Calif., as a bulldozer cuts a fire line in a bid to protect a local college.

Californians run from wind-fanned blaze

OROVILLE, Calif. -- Tens of thousands of people were ordered to evacuate a fast-moving wildfire that exploded in size Thursday, threatening several Northern California communities and forcing panicked residents to race to help neighbors and drive through walls of flames to escape.

As people fled in cars, some abandoned their vehicles, running from encroaching flames as they held babies and pets, said Gina Oviedo, who described a devastating scene as she evacuated the town of Paradise. Flames were engulfing homes, utility poles were crashing down and things were exploding, she said.

All of Paradise, a town of about 27,000 people 180 miles northeast of San Francisco, was ordered to evacuate, said Butte County Sheriff's spokesman Miranda Bowersox.

At a late afternoon news conference, Chief Darren Read with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said he had reports of several hundred destroyed structures, but he cautioned that officials had not yet been able to assess damage.

"The blaze is being driven by fairly strong winds," said Rick Carhart, a spokesman for the fire protection agency. "It's really dry and we have low humidity -- and unfortunately those are great conditions for a fire to spread."

Officials were sending as many crews as they could gather, said Carhart, adding: "There are dozens of strike teams that we're bringing in from all parts of the state."

The National Weather Service issued red-flag warnings for fire dangers in many areas of the state, saying low humidity and strong winds were expected to continue through this evening.

33 clergymen on Missouri sex-abuse list

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Thirty-three priests or religious brothers in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo., have been "credibly accused" and/or removed from the ministry over sexual abuse of minors, the bishop of the central Missouri diocese said Thursday.

Bishop W. Shawn McKnight released a complete list of the names that followed an internal investigation begun in February. The list includes 25 priests from the diocese, three priests from other areas who previously served in the Jefferson City diocese, and five members of a religious order.

Fourteen of the 33 men named are dead. Many of them are elderly. The diocese said the most recent case of physical sexual abuse found in the investigation occurred in 1997. He said only one man on the list was criminally convicted.

"Although the incidents are in the past, the pain caused is still a present reality for the survivors of abuse and their loved ones," McKnight said in a statement.

McKnight said another 18 allegations have been made since August, and internal investigations into those claims are ongoing.

The internal investigation is unrelated to an investigation announced in August by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.

New Yorker accused of running gang

NEW YORK -- A Brooklyn man accused of overseeing the Mad Stone Bloods, a violent street and prison gang, has been arrested on charges of racketeering and interstate drug trafficking, according to newly unsealed court records.

FBI agents arrested William Seeley, also known as "Papa Don," on Nov. 1, about a week after a grand jury in Norfolk, Va., indicted Seeley and seven other Mad Stone Bloods members in a sprawling drug conspiracy.

Court papers filed in Manhattan described Seeley as the "global chairman" of the gang, a "senior decision-maker" who signed off on acts of retaliatory violence against rival gangs and directed the recruitment and promotion of members in several states.

Seeley is scheduled to appear today in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Prosecutors described the Mad Stone Bloods as a historical rival of the notorious Crips of Los Angeles, as well as MS-13, a brutal street gang also known as La Mara Salvatrucha. Mad Stone Bloods members wear red and black and routinely use the letter "K" in place of "C" as a sign of contempt for the Crips.

From New York, Seeley is accused of presiding over a sophisticated hierarchy that stretched from Texas to Connecticut.

Fumes sicken workers at Omaha tower

OMAHA, Neb. -- Omaha's tallest building has been evacuated and more than two dozen people hospitalized after cleaning-solution fumes spread through the building.

The First National Tower was ordered evacuated Thursday after workers began complaining of a strong odor and breathing problems, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

About 2,000 people work at the 46-story building.

Fire Department officials said more than 60 people were assessed by emergency crews, and 25 were taken to a hospital.

Nebraska Medical Center said all of the patients are expected to recover and no one required aggressive treatment. Some patients were released later in the day.

First National Bank spokesman Kevin Langin said the fumes were reported as crews used a de-scaling solution on a humidifier connected to the building's air system.

-- Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports

Photo by AP/Omaha World-Herald/Z LONG
Emergency crews in Omaha, Neb., carry a woman Thursday from the 46-story First National Tower where cleaning-solution fumes sickened several people.

A Section on 11/09/2018

Print Headline: Californians run from wind-fanned blaze 33 clergymen on Missouri sex-abuse list Cleaning fumes sicken workers at tower Fumes sicken workers at Omaha tower New Yorker accused as gang 'chairman' of ...

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