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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

AP Louisiana officials say a mobile home fire has killed three children and injured seven others. District Chief Lance LaMarca of the state Fire Marshal's office says a 13-year-old girl, a 12-year-old boy and an 11-year-old boy died at the Whispering Oaks Trailer Park in Houma. Their parents and five other children were taken to a Baton Rouge burn unit. Houma Fire Inspector Mike Millet says the trailer was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived after 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. He says the children's father rescued one child, but was unable to get the other three because the fire spread so quickly. LaMarca says possible causes include space heaters, candles, or electrical devices.

AP A Singer High School teacher has been arrested on charges that she had a sexual relationship with a juvenile. The American Press reports that 28-year-old Pamela R. Jackson Taylor of Singer was arrested Monday and charged with felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile. The Beauregard Parish School Board lists Taylor as an art teacher at Singer High School. It wasn't clear if Taylor had a lawyer. Taylor's bond was set at $540,000 and she had been released from jail Wednesday.


AP The number of people taken to the hospital after an explosion and fire at an Axiall Corp. chemical plant near Lake Charles has risen to 18. Christus St. Patrick Hospital spokeswoman Heather Hidalgo-LaFleur tells the American Press that all 18 people were released after treatment for injuries related to hazardous smoke that drifted over Interstate 10. She declines to discuss the nature of the injuries. Atlanta-based Axiall says it's still investigating the cause of the Dec. 20 explosion at the Westlake plant. Callers to the Coast Guard's National Response Center reported the fire released unknown amounts of vinyl chloride, hydrochloric acid and EDC dichloroethane. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality tells KPLC-TV that monitors didn't detect any chemicals. The agency says it could release a report as soon as Friday.

AP Auditors say employees at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's primate lab in New Iberia stole more than $10,000 worth of batteries, scrap metal and other material and sold it to a scrap yard over two years. The legislative audit released Monday also found that managers at the New Iberia Research Center waited two weeks to tell police that a cellphone was missing. During those weeks, the phone was used for $16,000 in calls. The audit also found that $12,000 worth of thefts from the university in Lafayette weren't reported for up to a year. It says items reported stolen at the end of May had been taken between April and December of last year. University officials say in their response that they are taking steps to change problems.

AP A federal judge has rejected BP's argument that a multibillion-dollar settlement over the company's massive 2010 Gulf oil spill shouldn't compensate businesses if they can't directly trace their losses to the spill. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said in Tuesday's ruling that the settlement was designed to avoid the delays that would result from a "claim-by claim analysis" of whether each claim can be traced to the spill. Earlier this month, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Barbier erred when he initially refused to consider BP's "causation" arguments. Barbier agreed with plaintiffs' lawyers that BP can't make these arguments because the company took a contradictory position on the same issue when it urged Barbier last year to approve the settlement.

AP In Louisiana, Christmas trees aren't just for decorating and putting presents under. They're also being used to restore eroding coastal wetlands. Both oil and gas exploration and federal flood control measures have eroded about 1,500 square miles of coastal wetlands since 1930. The state continues to lose about 30 square miles a year nearly a football field every half-hour. State funding that used to help parishes with restoration projects has dried up and there is no immediate resolution in sight for lawsuits pending against oil and gas companies seeking funding. So for years, Louisiana's parishes, especially those along the coast, have been collecting and placing discarded Christmas trees in the marshes to provide barriers against the encroaching Gulf.

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