Iowa storm kills 7, injures dozens

PARKERSBURG, Iowa - A powerful storm that tore through a rural area of northeast Iowa killed eight people yesterday and injured dozens, a state official said.

The storm hit just after 5 p.m. and dealt heavy damage to the town of Parkersburg. The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado struck the town of about 1,000 residents. Iowa Homeland Security administrator Dave Miller said five of those killed were from Parkersburg and two were from nearby New Hartford. At least 50 injuries were reported.

Elsewhere in the nation's midsection, severe thunderstorms packing large hail and possible tornadoes damaged dozens of homes and injured at least eight people. In Minnesota, a 2-year-old child died when a storm blew through the St. Paul suburb of Hugo, a city official said.

- AP

Weather helps Calif. firefighters

GILROY, Calif. - Calmer, cooler weather helped nearly 2,900 firefighters get a handle yesterday on a destructive wildfire in the Santa Cruz Mountains that has brought a fierce start to the state's fire season.

Easing winds and lower temperatures helped keep the blaze from spreading after flames had charred nearly six square miles and destroyed at least 20 houses since Thursday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention.

The fire was about 50 percent contained yesterday morning, fire officials said. Hundreds of residents remain under evacuation following the outbreak of the fire in the mountainous region about 15 miles south of San Jose. Five firefighters have suffered minor injuries.

- AP

Fire near mayor's house is probed

CHICAGO - Authorities are investigating whether an arson fire near Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's summer home in Michigan last month is linked to threats against the mayor from someone furious about the April 14 killing of a cougar that had roamed into downtown Chicago.

FBI Special Agent Ross Rice said that "a number of letters were received at various locations throughout the metropolitan area blaming Mayor Daley and others for what the writer called the unnecessary death of the cougar, and threatening to take revenge against the mayor and other individuals."

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Daley received a letter mentioning his wife and children and threatening to burn his home. The April 24 fire did not damage Daley's house in Grand Beach on the coast of Lake Michigan, but it destroyed a neighbor's house.

- Washington Post

Elsewhere:

U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye,

the third most senior member of the Senate, married Irene Hirano in a private ceremony Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif. The 83-year-old Hawaii Democrat's bride leads the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. Inouye's wife of nearly 60 years, Margaret, died in 2006.

Members of the Rolling Thunder

motorcycle group roared into Washington for a White House visit yesterday, gave President Bush a cowhide vest jacket, and pushed for increased veterans benefits. For 21 years, Rolling Thunder has led a "Ride for Freedom" in support of soldiers held captive or missing in action.