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2 die in Charles County fireFire killed...


2 die in Charles County fire

Fire killed two of seven occupants of a small house in the Charles County community of Bel Alton early today.

Four men and a woman escaped, but a 29-year-old man and a 43-year-old man are believed to have died, said Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Bob Thomas.

The bodies, which were burned beyond recognition, were sent to the state medical examiner's office in Baltimore for positive identification, Mr. Thomas said.

The fire is believed to have started at 2:40 a.m. in a bedroom of the 20-foot by 24-foot, four-room house, he said. The home was not equipped with a smoke detector. Mr. Thomas said the cause was not known, but that investigators found "no suspicious circumstances."

Thirty firefighters battled the fire for 20 minutes before bringing it under control.

A 30-year-old inmate hanged himself yesterday in a cell at the Maryland Diagnostic, Reception and Classification Center, a state prisons spokesman said.

Spokesman Leonard A. Sipes Jr. said the inmate, Roger Dale Nickles of the 2700 block of Huntingdon Ave., used strands of clothing to hang himself.

A correctional officer found the inmate dangling in the cell about 11 a.m. Nickles received first aid at the center before he was taken to Mercy Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead about noon.

Nickles had been at the institution since April 28 for violating parole on a 1991 conviction for storehouse breaking, Mr. Sipes said.

The spokesman said the suicide was the third at the institution in the 500 block of E. Madison St. since it opened in 1981.

Anne Arundel

The county's $4 million, 196-inmate detention addition near Annapolis is expected to be ready for occupancy within six weeks, officials said.

"We need the space. We've needed the space," Superintendent Richard J. Baker said. But the brick addition always has been planned as only a temporary solution to some of the jail's needs.

County Executive Robert R. Neall's proposed six-year capital budget calls for adding again to the center in fiscal 1994. A new 650-inmate maximum-security facility also is being considered, although money to plan it was moved back to fiscal 1995.

Still, the new wing expected to open in mid-June is a welcome addition to a jail that saw unprecedented and unexpected overcrowding in the 1980s.

The center's average population is about 570 and rises to almost 600 on weekends. The operating capacity is 559.

Baltimore County

A Middle River plumber who suffered brain damage after being stricken by meningitis was awarded $1.67 million by a state arbitration panel yesterday that found his physician misdiagnosed his illness as a sinus headache.

"The claimant had the classic signs for [meningitis] when he arrived at the doctor's. The doctor just missed it," said Lawrence W. Shavers, a lawyer who served as chairman of the three-member panel assembled by the Maryland Health Claims Arbitration Office.

Randy Bradley, 35, a father of three, suffers from both long-term and short-term memory loss, said his lawyer, Stephen L. Snyder.

After suffering from a severe headache and eye pain for four days, Mr. Bradley, of Edisto Way, went to the Eastpoint Medical Center on Old North Point Road in eastern Baltimore County on Dec. 18, 1989, Mr. Snyder said.

Mr. Bradley saw Dr. Larry Tilley, the physician on duty, about 8:20 p.m., Mr. Snyder said.

Dr. Tilley told Mr. Bradley he was suffering from an acute sinus headache, gave him a prescription for an oral antibiotic and sent him home, the plumber's lawyers said.

At 8 a.m. the next day, Mr. Bradley's wife, Lachelle, found him unconscious.

He was taken to Franklin Square Hospital Center, where he was diagnosed as suffering from pneumococcal meningitis, a life-threatening bacterial infection that attacks the fibrous membranes covering the spinal cord and brain.

Mr. Bradley remained in a coma for 12 days. He spent several months in occupational training and other rehabilitation programs, Mr. Snyder said.

However, Mr. Bradley, a member of Plumbers and Gasfitters Local 48, has not been able to return to work, Mr. Snyder said.

Andrew Buckner, Dr. Tilley's attorney, called the $1.67 million award for compensatory damages "inappropriate" and said his client planned to appeal in Circuit Court.


Telephone service to most of Harford County's government offices should be restored today, said Susan Collins, a Harford spokeswoman.

A power surge yesterday knocked out telephone service, making numerous agencies inaccessible to the public.

The surge burned up a scanning board of the county's telephone system about 9 a.m., knocking about 285 extensions out of service, said Mark Degen of the county's Facilities and Operations Department.

The phone system, provided by Executone Information Systems Inc., was expected to be back in operation later today, Ms. Collins said. She said a part for the system was being flown in from Atlanta.

The malfunction did not affect 911 emergency lines, the sheriff's office, the Health Department and the Board of Education offices.


Clergy from 11 denominations will share a prayer vigil at Lake Kittamaqundi in Columbia Sunday in an effort to promote ethnic, racial and religious harmony in the community.

The 7 a.m. vigil was suggested during an informal meeting May 2 of elected officials, local civil rights leaders, county employees, business executives and clergymen.

The meeting, at one of the participant's homes, was an attempt to "use the negative feelings and emotion coming out of the Rodney King incident and turn it to some positive end," said James E. Henson, county human rights administrator.

"We wanted to be sure those conditions would not be present in Howard County," Mr. Henson said. "We wanted to identify and solve potential problems."

The vigil is a statement of religious solidarity, he said, "a time of prayer and devotion to stimulate and promote ethnic, racial and religious harmony countywide."

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