0

NATION IN BRIEF: High winds mean fire evacuees can't return yet

High winds mean fire evacuees can't return yet

BOULDER, Colo. -- Winds expected to reach 60 mph Thursday are forcing authorities to call off plans for residents to return to their homes after they fled a wildfire that has destroyed at least 169 houses near Boulder.

The winds were expected to pick up earlier than originally thought, leading authorities to close roads that had temporarily been opened to residents at 10 a.m. Residents who were set to be allowed in at 2 p.m. won't be able to get in at all.

Containment lines have been built around 30 percent of the 10-square-mile fire, but firefighters warned that progress could be undone if sparks jump the lines.

Officials assess damage from Detroit blazes

DETROIT -- Fire officials in Detroit are trying to determine the extent of damage caused by a series of blazes that swept across the city.

Community Relations Chief Katrina Butler said Thursday the department was compiling data from firefighters who battled Tuesday's wind-fed wildfires. Butler says it is unclear how many of the 85 structures that caught fire were occupied homes, vacant dwellings or garages.

The city is believed to have about 33,000 vacant houses. Mayor Dave Bing has promised to tear down 3,000 this year and the same number in 2011.

Pastor cancels Quran-burning, then reconsiders

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- An anti-Islamic preacher backed off and then threatened to reconsider burning the Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, angrily accusing a Muslim leader of lying to him Thursday with a promise to move an Islamic center and mosque away from New York's ground zero. The imam planning the center denied there was ever such a deal.

The Rev. Terry Jones generated an international firestorm with his plan to burn the Quran on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and he has been under intense pressure to give it up. President Barack Obama urged him to listen to ''those better angels'' and give up his ''stunt,'' saying it would endanger U.S. troops and give Islamic terrorists a recruiting tool. Defense Secretary Robert Gates took the extraordinary step of calling Jones personally.

Standing outside his 50-member Pentecostal church, the Dove Outreach Center, alongside Imam Muhammad Musri, the president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, Jones said he relented when Musri assured him that the New York mosque will be moved.

Hours later, after Musri and the leader of the New York mosque denied such an agreement, Jones said Musri ''clearly, clearly lied to us.''

Commuter train kills 2, injures 1

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. -- Orange County authorities said two people struck and killed by a Metrolink commuter train may have been sleeping on the tracks.

The train struck a man and a woman shortly after 6 a.m. on tracks beneath the Alicia Parkway overcrossing in Mission Viejo.

County sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said another woman called 911 to say her friends had been struck and she was thrown back by the force of the train. Amormino said that woman told investigators she heard the train coming, jumped out of the way but was nicked on the arm and leg.

Laura Bush to speak at 9/11 fundraiser

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. -- Former first lady Laura Bush will speak at a National Park Service fundraiser in Pittsburgh on Friday, a day before joining Michelle Obama in rural Pennsylvania to remember the victims of Flight 93, which crashed there in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Bush's appearance is part of a wider effort to raise money for the memorial to the 40 passengers and crew who died after they fought back against their hijackers.

Just $40 million of the $58 million needed for the memorial has been raised.

Highway deaths fall to lowest level since 1950

WASHINGTON -- Traffic deaths have plummeted across the United States to levels not seen in more than a half-century, spurred by technology, safety-conscious drivers and tougher enforcement of drunken driving laws.

The Transportation Department said Thursday that traffic deaths fell 9.7 percent in 2009 to 33,808, the lowest number since 1950.