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MONTANA WILDFIRE PROMPTS EVACUATION OF FIVE HOMES

Five homes were evacuated before dawn Friday as firefighters tried to stop a wildfire that has scorched 4,000 acres about 60 miles northwest of Yellowstone National Park.

Families living in the foothills south of Bozeman were awakened at 2 a.m. and told to evacuate as gusting winds blew flames to within a quarter-mile of some homes. Fire officials warned other residents they, too, could be ordered to leave by the end of the day.

Twenty-five homes adjacent to Gallatin National Forest had been evacuated Thursday as winds up to 35 mph stoked the fire. Some livestock were also moved and an unoccupied Forest Service cabin burned.

Ash and blackened pine needles blew into the streets of Bozeman and a smoke plume was visible 40 miles away in Livingston.

Travel was disrupted on U.S. 191 -- a main route to Yellowstone National Park -- as part of the highway was closed to all but emergency traffic.

The fire started early Wednesday and may have been human-caused, officials said.

2 convicts, facing charges
of escape, flee, are caught

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Two maximum-security prisoners with homemade knives overpowered guards and escaped Friday morning as they headed to a hearing on a prior escape. They were captured a few hours later.

Lyle Van Ulzen, 35, and Billy Coffelt, 47, fled as they were being escorted through an underground tunnel from the city jail to the courthouse.

They were captured a few blocks away and did not resist arrest, police spokesman Don Aaron said.

Van Ulzen, a convicted murderer, pulled a knife on one guard and ordered him to remove their waist chains, leg irons and handcuffs, while demanding that the other two guards stay back, police spokesman Don Aaron said. Coffelt, convicted of armed robbery, also had a knife, authorities said. The guards were not carrying weapons.

The three guards were not injured and were left handcuffed to a railing in the tunnel. The convicts took two of the guards' uniforms and escaped wearing them, Correction Commissioner Donal Campbell said.

Two indicted ex-officers
named in false-arrest suits

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Two former Los Angeles police officers indicted in the beating of a homeless man were named in lawsuits filed against the city by three men who say they were falsely arrested.

Separate cases filed Thursday in U.S. District Court show the plaintiffs -- Alejo Rivero, Glen Hayes and Carl Mitchell -- are seeking unspecified damages for "wrongful, false and malicious arrest."

All three men claim ex-Officers David Cochrane and Christopher Coppock planted evidence on them to secure a reason for their arrests. They were all convicted of crimes and served time in jail.

Police officials have said Coppock resigned from the department in 1999 after allegedly filing a false police report and committing perjury. Cochrane was fired the same year for lying under oath during a Board of Rights hearing.

The two men were indicted last year by a Los Angeles County grand jury for allegedly beating a homeless man, Delton Bowen, in 1997. Trial is pending, and Bowen has filed a lawsuit.

Parents of 3 dead teens
convicted on gun charge

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (AP) -- The parents of three teens shot to death in a murder-suicide were convicted on misdemeanor firearms charges.

Investigators said the children's mother kept loaded guns in her bedroom, and that all three children had been taught to use them.

Nissa Warren, 41, found her three children, Brandon, 14; Kyle, 13; and Marnie, 19, shot to death in the family's mobile home July 26.

Investigators said Brandon used his mother's rifle to shoot his half-sister four times and his brother 11 times before turning the gun on himself.

Nissa Warren and Kent Warren, 43, were sentenced Thursday to two years' supervised probation, during which they cannot possess weapons. They were also sentenced to 100 hours of community service.

They were found innocent Thursday of misdemeanor child abuse charges, which had been filed because investigators had found their home filled with garbage and animal waste.

The Warrens left the courthouse without commenting.

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