RENO - Rain and snow helped firefighters surround a brush fire that destroyed 29 homes and forced thousands to flee near Reno, leading officials to declare the blaze contained early yesterday and lift all remaining evacuations. Fueled by hurricane-force winds, the blaze burned nearly 3,200 acres. The break in the weather for firefighters arrived with calmer winds on Friday, allowing crews to gain the upper hand. The next challenge for emergency workers may be a storm in the Sierra Nevada, which for many brings welcome snow and rain amid one of the Reno’s driest winters in more than a century but could create headaches for officials who fear its potential for causing flooding in burned areas. Authorities said an “extremely remorseful’’ elderly man admitted to accidentally starting the fire Thursday when he improperly discarded fireplace ashes at his home.
Dismembered remains identified
LOS ANGELES - Authorities have determined that a dismembered head and other body parts found in a hillside park near the famed Hollywood sign are the remains of a man who lived in an a nearby apartment. The victim was Hervey Medellin, 66, coroner’s Lieutenant David Smith said. Investigators, who are searching for suspects, served a search warrant on an apartment in the area a day earlier, but it was not immediately clear if it was Medellin’s. Police have said they believe the victim was killed elsewhere and his remains dumped inside the park, which attracts hundreds of hikers and dog walkers daily. They did not elaborate on why the warrant was served or what, if anything, detectives found.