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(HOUSTON) -- Heavy rain and thunderstorms are slamming the South, one day after storms bringing flash flooding, tornadoes, and giant hail ripped through the area.

The threat for severe weather Saturday covers a large area, including Houston, New Orleans, Nashville and St. Louis, and up to southern Illinois and Indiana.

Flash flood watches and warnings are in effect for parts of east Texas and central Mississippi, while a severe thunderstorm watch is effect until Saturday evening for eastern Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi.

 

Tis the morning for another flash flood ?? #TexasFloods pic.twitter.com/LSzsE4kUOR

— Phae (@motopixie) April 30, 2016

 

 

Three inches of rain in 45 minutes. #TexasFloods @jimcantore pic.twitter.com/66Tecr32H9

— Phae (@motopixie) April 30, 2016

 

The weather turned fatal early Saturday morning in eastern Texas, when a 64-year-old woman and four grandchildren were found dead amid flooding in Palestine. The town received nearly 8 inches of rain in less than 12 hours.

In Lindale, Texas, a tornado swept through the area Friday, destroying parts of the town and leaving several injured. Smith County, which includes the city of Lindale, issued a disaster declaration.

In Gulfport, Mississippi, the flooding was severe enough Friday to partially submerge a car.

In Oklahoma and Texas, hail -- some pieces bigger than a softball -- fell from the sky Friday.

In Kansas, a nickel-sized piece ricocheted off the ground and hit a woman in the tooth.

Rounds of heavy rain are expected to continue Saturday evening along parts of the Gulf Coast. Areas of heavy rain are also expected to hit farther north in the Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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iStock/Thinkstock(EL PASO, Texas) --  A female teenager was killed Friday night when she was ejected from a spinning carnival ride at an El Paso, Texas, church, local police have confirmed.

Another female teenager, who also was ejected from "The Sizzler" ride at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, sustained injuries and was rushed to a local hospital.

A third female teenager, who was not ejected from the ride, was treated at the scene but did not sustain any injuries, El Paso Police Department Sgt. Enrique Carrillo told ABC News.

The hospitalized teen's condition is unknown.

 

CAP responding to St Thomas Aquinas Church 10900 Bywood carnival ride injuries

— EL PASO POLICE DEPT (@EPPOLICE) April 30, 2016

 

The ride was part of the church's Dia De Los Niños Fiesta festivities.

At a press conference Friday night, Sgt. Carrillo said the three females are between the ages of 15 and 18.

Sgt. Carrillo said the accident remains under investigation, and its cause remains to be determined.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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Courtesy Greg Smith(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- A Florida man who was moved by a homeless woman who never asked him for money, even though he passed her every day on his way to work, said he finally found a way to help her only after she “dropped a bomb” on him – she never learned to read.

Greg Smith wrote in a now viral Facebook post that a woman who introduced herself as "Amy Joe" offered him polite greetings instead of requests for money as he went by her daily on his way to work in downtown Orlando. It led to the two having lunch every Tuesday.

"For 30 min to an hour I get to hear how positive she is even though she really has nothing," he wrote.

During one of those sitdowns, Smith, 25, wrote that his new friend "dropped a bomb on me."

"She cannot read. Amy Joe does not smoke, drink, have a drug addiction, or anything to that nature," he explained. "She simply just has never had anyone teach her how to read.

"She began to tell me any money that she can collect she uses to check out library books that help with learning to read instead of buying FOOD," Smith continued. "So now not only do Amy Joe and I sit and have lunch, I'm teaching her to read. I rent one library book a week and we read it together Tuesday and she practices on her own throughout the rest of the week."

Smith told ABC News that Amy Joe was ecstatic about their weekly reading date.

"She lit up! I could see in her face that she felt amazing," he said.

The sales account executive said he shared Amy Joe's story not to brag, but to inspire others to be kind.

And thanks to the large response, Smith started a GoFundMe page to raise money for a new foundation he said he plans to start to benefit the homeless in his community. He's dubbed it the Amy Joe Foundation. As of Saturday, he's raised a little more than $1,000 and has already met with a lawyer to develop the organization, he said. He has even decided on his slogan: "One person at a time."

"I want to be able to help anybody, whether it be giving them some food or clothes," Smith said. "I don't want to just narrow it down to helping people read because there's so many other people that need more help."

And how does Amy Joe feel about what she's started?

Smith said he told her that their story went viral Friday.

"She thought it was amazing," he added. "She said, 'I can't wait!'"

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A 64-year-old woman and her four grandchildren were found dead amid flooding in eastern Texas Saturday morning.

The woman and her grandchildren -- ages 6, 7, 8 and 9 -- were found when officers responded to waist-deep flooding on a street in Palestine, Texas, about 150 miles north of Houston, police said.

Two of the children were found in the front yard of a home. The other two children and the woman were found behind some houses. They appeared to have been swept away by the fast-moving waters, police said.

The victims' names were not released.

Six to eight other families who live on that street have been displaced, police said. Heavy downpour in Palestine began just after midnight Saturday.

The dangerous, severe weather is pounding much of the southern Plains today. Flash flood watches and warnings were in effect this morning from eastern Texas to western Tennessee.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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Arizona Humane Society(PHEONIX) --  A tiny kitten is now recovering after being rescued from a manhole in Phoenix, Arizona, where she had been trapped for at least three days, according to the Arizona Humane Society (AHS).

The rescue started last Friday after a good Samaritan called with concerns about meowing in a storm drain, AHS public relations manager Bretta Nelson told ABC News. After lowering a snake cam through a storm grate, rescuers confirmed the meowing was indeed from a trapped kitten.

AHS emergency animal medical technicians (EAMTs) "lowered food to the little kitten as they kept watch through a snake cam snake cam" while waiting for the city to open a nearby manhole, Nelson said.

The rescue mission ended Sunday, when AHS EAMT Kelley Mallon was finally able to pull the kitten from the manhole through a trap and take her to AHS' Second Chance Animal Trauma Hospital, AHS said in a news release on Wednesday.

The feline was fully examined and given a bath, AHS said, adding that the kitty was named Tera.

"While in relatively good health, the little girl weighs in at just one pound," AHS said. Tera "is now in foster care with Kelley as she gains another pound in order to go up for adoption in approximately three weeks."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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YouTube/Alexa Meade(SAN FRANCISCO) -- This proposal wasn’t life imitating art, but rather life becoming art.

Dan Levine came up with the perfect plan to capture his romantic, eye-popping proposal to longtime girlfriend Cristina Cordova on Sunday. He enlisted the help of a high school friend, artist Alexa Meade, who uses acrylic paint to transform her muses into what appears to be 2D pieces of art.

“A few months ago, he contacted me and asked if I could paint both him and his girlfriend,” Meade told ABC News of the exciting endeavor. “He asked if he could propose to her through that, and I was like, ‘Yes, oh my God, that’s amazing.’ I was so excited."

As they were roaming the Mission District neighborhood of San Francisco covered in acrylic paint, the lovebirds obviously started attracting quite the crowd.

“It was cool because it became somewhat of a spectacle,” said Meade. “Random people would see us walking down the street and wander with us from location to location. It was such a curious thing.”

At the end of a long day shooting, the paint-covered couple paused for a few minutes in front of a wall that read, “NEW MURAL SOON.” Meade instructed Cordova to stand while Levine remained on bended knee.

Cordova giggled while saying, “I knew you were going to do it,” in the video capturing the adorable moment. The two have been dating for six and half years.

“They’re a lovely couple and they’re so in love,” said Meade. “If I can create art to celebrate that love, to commemorate one of the biggest moments in their lives, that’s amazing. It was really fun.”

Meade said it was absolutely a highlight of her career.

“I can create the art but the rest is up to them,” she said of her newly engaged friends.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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ABC News(JUPITER, Fla.) -- Newly released video shows missing Florida teens Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen as they pull out of the Jupiter inlet by boat the day they went missing.

In the video, both 14-year-olds are shirtless and wearing dark-colored shorts. At one point, Stephanos takes off his hat, showing his blond hair and indicating he was driving the 19-foot single-engine boat as Cohen sits on the boat's edge, facing him.

The video, which shows several different angles of the boys as they cruise through the inlet lined with luxury homes, was released as part of the investigation into their disappearance.

The boat was found on March 18 off the coast of Bermuda, the U.S. Coast Guard announced last weekend. An iPhone belonging to Stephanos was recovered from the boat.

The boys' parents initially feuded over what to do with the phone, with Perry's mother, Pam, taking the issue to court. They eventually agreed Friday to have Apple analyze the iPhone, which may hold the key to what happened to the boys.

The teens, both experienced boaters, went missing on July 24. They were last seen buying more than $100 worth of fuel at the marina in Jupiter.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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ABC News(HEMET, Calif.) -- Two hours east of Los Angeles, in Hemet, California, sits a 500-acre Scientology compound known as the “Gold Base.”

The Church characterizes the base as a slice of Scientology utopia, with state-of-the-art facilities and gorgeous landscaping.

“If you talk to the staff, they'll tell you it's a worker's paradise,” Scientology attorney Monique Yingling told ABC News 20/20. “It couldn't be a better place to work.”

But that’s not how Ron Miscavige remembers it.

Ron Miscavige, the father of Scientology’s leader David Miscavige, and his wife Becky moved onto the base in 2006, where he said they were forced to live under serious restrictions.

“I’m living on a compound…where your mail going out is read before its seal and sent out, where before you get your mail, it’s opened and read before you get it,” Ron Miscavige told 20/20 in an exclusive interview. “Phone calls, you’re on the phone, somebody else is listening on an extension.”

Gary Morehead, a former Scientologist turned Church critic, says he was once director of security for the Church and would go through people’s belongings at Gold Base to collect information on them.

“I would go through people’s personal belongings out of their berthing, where they slept… obtaining bank records, date of birth, passwords, any personal information, where their family addresses were,” Morehead told 20/20.

Before he moved to the base, Ron Miscavige had joined the Sea Organization, or “Sea Org,” the clergy of the Church, in 1985 and was working as a musician and composer for the Church’s Golden Era Productions. But Miscavige said by the late 2000s, the crushing workload, rigid lifestyle and lack of sleep on the base became unbearable.

The Church rejects those claims, telling ABC News in a statement that “long and hard hours” and a “restrictive lifestyle” are part of the mission that Sea Org members sign up for.

“These are people that have dedicated their lives to something they really believe in,” Yingling said. “They may work hard. They may work really long hours… but they enjoy it.”

As for Ron, he “was working with first-class musicians in one of the best studios in the world,” she continued. “He had nothing to complain about.”

To prove it, the Church gave 20/20 photos of Ron enjoying fancy birthday meals they said his son David Miscavige provided and a car David and his two sisters had bought their father for his birthday.

The Church also sent ABC News video testimonials and letters from Ron’s former bandmates and other staffers in which they called Ron “lazy,” and claimed he used “racial and ethnic slurs,” was a “poor musician” and a “disgusting pig.”

All of which Ron Miscavige disputes, pointing to a video showing him being allowed to play at a birthday party the Church threw for Tom Cruise, and asking why he would be allowed to be a part of the celebration if Church members thought so little of him.

Ron also claims he was subjected to a practice called “over-boarding,” a disciplinary measure in which a Sea Org member in trouble with the Church is thrown overboard from the Sea Org ship into the water with clothes on. The Church claims over-boarding is voluntary.

“When you jump off… you commit yourself to the sea, so that you’ll be cleansed and come back, you know, better,” Yingling said. “There’s… some sort of an ecclesiastical discipline thing or it can be done as a group, and when a group does it, it’s more, sort of, because they’re all agreeing that somehow they screwed up, and ‘let’s get together and cleanse ourselves of it.’”

But Ron disagreed.

“I’m going out there and I’m thinking to myself, this is straight lunatic asylum stuff,” Ron Miscavige said. “This is going to make me better? The only effect it had on me is make me all the more want to possibly get out of there.”

For months, Ron Miscavige and his wife Becky said they planned what they called their escape from Gold Base by conditioning guards into letting them make regular Sunday trips to the music studio across the street. It all came to a head one day when Ron drove his car up to the security gate and pressed the button. To his relief, the gate opened.

“I drove out slowly so it wouldn’t arouse suspicion,” Miscavige said. “When I turned left, I put my foot right to the floorboard… I knew we were free. I knew they couldn’t catch us.”

“It was an escape,” he continued. “You can’t leave. You think you can just walk out? No. You will be stopped. I escaped.”

The Church denies that this was an “escape.” Yingling told 20/20 that Gold Base “is not a prison.”

“People can come and go as they please, and they do,” she said.

But Gary Morehead said he had many ways to discourage would-be deserters from leaving the base.

“I wouldn’t open up the gate,” he said. “I would send my rover guard down there to meet up with them face-to-face in case he started scaling in and I would try to calm, cool and collectively talk to him on the intercom.”

During his tenure there, Morehead said he tracked people down who he said had deserted and got them to come back.

“I used to have to keep a statistic which is a printed out graph of security threats, and that was the people who wanted to leave or the people to had left that we brought back and were undergoing handling,” Morehead said. “So every time somebody left, I learned something new to make it that much quicker for me to find somebody… the amount of sheer pressure that I would get until that person was back here was incredible.”

At the time, he said he thought that he was “helping that person.”

“They’re obviously having troubles, they’re leaving for a reason,” Morehead said. “So I’m going to be the one to help bring them back and… regain their spiritual enlightenment… and that sheltered my true view of the way I should look at it.”

The Church told ABC News in a statement that Morehead hasn’t worked at “any Church of Scientology” for 20 years, his comments are false and, “He is a teller of tales with no credibility.”

Once Ron and Becky Miscavige were off the base, they said they drove for three days to Wisconsin where Becky’s mother lives. But despite all of Ron’s complaints about the Church, he said he sent his son David Miscavige a letter asking for money soon after they left.

“In that letter, I said, ‘Hey, listen, I spent a lot of years in the Sea Org, I couldn’t live under those conditions, and I have very little money paid into social security. If you can give me some financial help, I would appreciate it,’” Ron Miscavige said.

He said his son David gave him $100,000, from money David had inherited from his mother, to buy a house.

“Maybe he read it and he’s thinking, you know, ‘he is my old man and he’s old, maybe I’ll help him out,’” Ron Miscavige said. “And then on the other hand… I think, ‘well, maybe he did it just so it would be insurance that I wouldn’t do anything.’ And I wasn’t going to do anything.”

Ron Miscavige wrote a memoir, “Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me,” with Dan Koon, a former Church official who is now a vocal critic. It's out in stores on May 3.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- A man who was shot by police after reportedly making a bomb threat at a Baltimore TV news station now faces felony charges as he remains hospitalized for non-life-threatening injuries.

Alex Michael Brizzi, 25, is facing charges of second-degree arson and first-degree malicious burning -- both felonies -- as well as threat of arson, reckless endangerment and possessing a phony destructive device, Baltimore police said Friday.

Police said the incident was not connected to organized terrorism.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said Friday that Brizzi, of Howard County, Maryland, had challenges with mental illness and that his father has been cooperative with authorities. Police said Brizzi will undergo a psychiatric evaluation when he’s well enough.

Brizzi was wearing a hedgehog "onesie" and a surgical mask, as well as what appeared to be an explosive vest, when he entered the Fox-affiliated news station WBFF Thursday, holding a flash drive with something he apparently wanted the station to run on the news.

Police said the USB flash drive contained video rants of Brizzi talking about the end of the world.

When Brizzi walked out of the station and didn't take orders to remove his hands out of his pockets, he was shot at least three times by an officer, police said. A robot was later deployed to disarm him.

Following the stand-off with police, investigators found that what originally appeared to be an explosive device on Brizzi was actually a vest stuffed with chocolate candy bars wrapped in aluminum foil, and nothing was wired that could possibly blow up. There was also a small motherboard contraption that was attached to him and a wire running down the sleeve of his jacket that emulated a detonation device, police said.

A car was also set on fire in front of the news station at the time Brizzi entered the station. Police said the fire was associated with Brizzi.

Police said Friday a search of the TV station and Brizzi’s home and car didn't turn up any other real or fake explosives.

Police said Friday they are still examining the contents of the flash drive.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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Alissa Adams(MESA, Ariz.) -- Officials removed a controversial poster from the Desert Ridge High School library in Mesa, Arizona, Thursday after some students took offense at its message that appears to be a humorous attempt to highlight the school’s dress code.

“I don’t get offended easily, but this definitely crossed the line for me,” senior Alissa Adams, 18, told ABC News.

The poster, which had a photo and cartoons attached, claimed that girls who came to school “looking pretty cute” made boys see them as “meat, and it’s distracting.” It went on to say that boys would “make lousy grades” as a result, but the girls “end up with one of them anyways because he thought you looked HOT!”

It suggested that the distractions posed by a girl left a boy “underemployed because he learned nothing in school,” leaving the girl to support him.

When Adams first saw the poster a couple days ago, she took a pen and wrote on the bottom, “So it’s the girls fault, right? #feminism,” she said.

Adams said she approached the librarian who put up the poster, but she declined to remove it, saying that Adams was the only person who took offense. Later that day, she said, another student alerted the principal, who directed the librarian to remove it.

“Hanging of the poster was inappropriate and very poor judgment on behalf of the librarian,” school spokeswoman Irene Mahoney Paige said in a statement. “It is not reflective of the spirit and community of Desert Ridge High School or the Gilbert Public Schools District.”

School officials said they had no idea who created the poster, only that the librarian put it up after she found it lying around. The school district declined to make the librarian available for comment.

Even after it was removed, Adams and other students voiced concern about the message.

“They shouldn’t have compared boys to animals and girls as meat,” Adams said. “They could’ve done it better.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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Lisa Hall Mazzaglia(AMESBURY, Mass.) -- A Massachusetts woman was reunited this week with the purse she says was stolen from her shopping cart 14 years ago.

Lisa Hall Mazzaglia of Amesbury said she was “stunned” to hear that police in Seabrook, New Hampshire, had her purse after it was found in the trash can of a Seabrook grocery store.

"I found this confusing since my purse was sitting in my kitchen," Mazzaglia, a talent agent, told ABC News. "I did have a fleeting thought of the purse that had been stolen years earlier but I dismissed it as ridiculous."

"I had since married and changed my name and I live in a different city than when the purse was stolen," she said.

Mazzaglia said her black leather purse was stolen in 2002 as she loaded Christmas presents that she planned to donate into her car. She said she was at a completely different store from where her purse was found this week.

The purse that was returned to Mazzaglia by Seabrook police was like a “time capsule," she said.

"Everything, with the exception of a large portion of cash, was there and in perfect condition," Mazzaglia said, adding that the purse's still-in-place contents included a cellphone and pager, credit cards, receipts, a checkbook and even a camera and undeveloped rolls of film.

Seabrook Deputy Chief Brett Walker told ABC News they received a call Tuesday saying a Market Basket employee had found the purse in a trash can.

“We sent an officer to retrieve it and the officer came back and we returned it to Ms. Mazzaglia,” Walker said. “I don’t think there was anything missing, aside from the cash.”

Walker said the statute of limitations has expired on the alleged theft. The wallet contained Mazzaglia's old driver's license, which is how she says police tracked her down.

"It took a lot of precise moves to have it all work out," Mazzaglia said. "It's so strange but really kind of cool."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Five protesters in San Francisco's Mission District, called the "Frisco Five," continue their hunger strike over what they call racist actions by the San Francisco police department, which they say include shootings of minorities and racially-charged text messages by officers.

The group is calling for the resignation of San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr, as well as San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. They have been camped out in front of the Mission District police station since April 21, refusing to eat.

Protesters cite the separate shootings over the past three years of Alejandro "Alex" Nieto, Amilcar Perez-Lopez, Mario Woods and Luis Gongora as evidence of racism in the department.

They also mention the recent release of months-old transcripts showing racist text messages written by Officer Jason Lai, who has since resigned. The texts were discovered during a criminal investigation of Lai last fall. He was charged last month with six misdemeanor counts for unlawful access and use of criminal and motor vehicle data bases.

"The investigation also revealed that three other officers had each received single questionable text messages from Lai," a statement from the San Francisco Police Department reads. "The investigation concluded that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against the officers."

Despite the rising pressure to resign, Suhr "has no intentions of stepping down," the department's spokesperson Officer Albie Esparza confirmed to ABC News.

Instead, Esparza said Suhr is working to clean up the department, mandating that all officers currently attend anti-harassment classes.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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Family Handout(CHICAGO) -- A medical student has been missing for over a week in Chicago, where he's doing a two-year clinical rotation. And his brother is desperate to find him with just a few weeks to go until his graduation.

Ambrose Monye, 28, was last seen April 21 in the area of Jackson Park Hospital in Chicago, the Chicago Police Department said. He often goes to coffee shops in the Hyde Park neighborhood and the John Crerar Library, police said.

Monye, from Baltimore, is a student at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico and is in Chicago for a two-year clinical rotation at Jackson Park Hospital, according to ABC Chicago station WLS-TV. Monye was in his last rotation, which would have likely ended in May, said Margo Brooks, the hospital’s vice president of development.

Chicago police have no evidence pointing to anything criminal, but are continuing to investigate, a police spokesman told ABC News Friday.

Ambrose Monye's brother, Joseph Monye, who said he is also a medical student, told WLS, "We went through his apartment, we saw his reading lamp was on. His fan was on. ... He had a fridge full of groceries. ... So we had no reason to think he went anywhere or went away. Definitely he would have told me, because we're pretty close.”

Monye added: "His ticket is already booked to go for his graduation ceremony. This is very unlike him. We have no idea what could have possibly happened."

Arturo Barriga of the University of Guadalajara told ABC News via email, "We hope and we are praying for him to be found."

Monye is a black man with black hair and brown eyes, police say. He’s 5-foot 10 and weighs 180 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Chicago's special victims unit.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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Instagram/@tonilconrad(SALEM, Pa.) -- A natural gas explosion erupted into a massive ball of fire near Salem Township, Pennsylvania, Friday morning. One person was injured.

Forbes Road Fire Department Chief Bob Rosatti said in a press conference it was the “biggest ball of fire I’ve ever seen.” As firetrucks "were coming around the bend, it looked like you were looking down in hell,” he added.

The Forbes Road Fire Department was dispatched at 8:17 a.m. after multiple calls of a huge fire. Spectra Energy reported the incident, which involved the Texas Eastern pipeline owned by the company.

“Our first concern is for the safety of the community, our employees and any others who may be affected. We have activated our emergency response plan,” Creighton Welch, manager of external communications for Spectra Energy, said in a statement.

One man sustained burns after running out of his home and being exposed to the heat from the fire ball. The man described the explosion as a loud noise like a tornado.

The Delmont Fire Department said homes and businesses within a one-mile radius were evacuated. By 9:30 a.m. the flames started to die down and it was mostly black smoke, according to the fire department.

Approximately 10 to 12 homes remain in the evacuation zone. The explosion is being investigated.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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Alice de Anguera/National Park Service(SALT LAKE CITY) -- Staffers at the Arches National Park in Utah are speaking out against the rise in graffiti after discovering one of the ancient rock formations in the park was vandalized a couple weeks ago -- and the damage might be irreparable.

“There has been an enormous problem with graffiti in the past couple years,” Kate Cannon, superintendent of Arches National Park, told ABC News Friday. Graffiti is prevalent in arches and canyonlands in parks all over the country, according to Cannon.

This most recent incident on April 15 was at the Frame Arch, where the words “Staten” and “Andersen” were carved deeply into the famed rock formation.

The park has been victim to graffiti “of all types,” from minor scratches and paint to larger defacements, such as the etching in the Frame Arch, according to Cannon. But the park staff decided to use this most recent incident to post the photos and send a message to the public that the graffiti is doing “significant damage” and needs to “be made socially unacceptable.”

Cannon said the park does not have a way of boosting up surveillance and they won’t be closing areas of the park. “We have as our purpose to make parks available to the public, so there aren’t really good solutions in closing it for us. That defeats our purpose,” she said.

The hope is that “just as the graffiti trend accelerated and grew, we can push it back with the public’s help,” Cannon said. She urges the public to report when they see defacement or see someone defacing the land.

People caught in the act can face a $5,000 fine and up to six months in jail, according to Cannon.

The park staff is thinking about filling back in the rock where the graffiti was scratched in, but “we know that if we do, we will have to go back and repair it over and over again,” Cannon said, adding that the same rock formation “was extensively cleaned of graffiti in last couple of years."

"How many times can you grind it down until it is no longer there?" she asked.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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