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Bridge fire temporarily shuts down rail traffic over Potomac

Capital fire officials say a blaze on a CSX bridge over the Potomac River has been extinguished and trains are running again after an hours-long delay on the only rail bridge linking the District of Columbia and Virginia.

D.C. fire spokesman Doug Buchanan said the department battled the fire from above and below the Long Bridge after it was reported at about 1:45 p.m. Friday. Two fireboats pulled water from the river to spray the underside of the structure.

CSX shares its century-old bridge with the VRE commuter line and Amtrak passenger trains.

CSX spokesman Rob Doolittle says rail traffic resumed about 4 p.m.

Flames tear through former restaurant on California pier

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Flames tear through former restaurant on California pier

Fire raged through a vacant restaurant on the ocean end of Southern California’s Seal Beach Pier Friday, leaving the structure in ruins, with much of its roof collapsed.A fleet of fireboats raced to the scene and directed water cannons toward the flames while 70 firefighters battled the blaze from atop the pier, finally quelling the inferno in less than two hours.A firefighter suffered a minor injury and was taken to a hospital, said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi.Firefighters found no one inside the structure, formerly a Ruby’s Diner that closed in 2013, and has been fenced off for years.The cause of the blaze was under investigation.Witnesses reported fire near the restaurant around 7:35 a.m.

It’s a small town, it’s a close community, and our pier is an integral part of where we live.

Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi

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Aquacraft Rescue 17 Fireboat

Clipper Race 10: Seattle to Panama

This was a long and challenging race, but not the conditions I was expecting!  It started with a parade of sail along the Seattle waterfront, complete with fireboat and then a 120 mile motor out of Puget Sound to the Pacific Ocean.  After a bit of delay while Telemed sorted out a problem with their mast track (the thing that hold the main to the mast) we were off.  

Most people are leary of sailing down the coast of the Pacific Northwest, as you are usually confronted with gale after gale and big seas pushing you south.  Typically there is no respite until you are south of Point Conception (Santa Barbara)  Instead we had pleasant conditions, with no winds over 30 knots for  the first 7 days.  It was mostly flying an assortment of spinnakers on and off for days.  

And then where the winds usually die in southern Mexico, we continued to have wind (on and off) much longer than expected. While our weather files typically showed 5-8 knots of wind, we would see either no wind or 15 knots of wind (so on average the files were right!)  This allowed us to sail further than expected before the race was called and we started the motor south.  There were several virtual gates set up, the northern most at Acapulco, so that the race could be ended at any of those gates.  It ended up being the third gate, off the coast of El Salvador, that became the actual finish line.

The challenges we faced were not due to the expected big winds, but rather the ‘adventure’ of life on a boat.  On day 8, our generator failed to start with an over temperature warning, and despite valiant efforts by skipper Greg, we were never able to get it working again.  This mean running our main engine 10 hours a day to charge the batteries (and pumping massive amounts of heat into the boat in the tropics!)  

On day 9 we found that our watermaker was producing about 4 liters of water per hour, versus the normal 20 liters per hour.  With a new water pump installed, we were able to get closer to 10 liters per hour, but still way short of normal.  With 19 people on board, this meant water rationing for the remainder of the trip - no use of freshwater for rising dishes, brushing teeth, showers on mother duty, etc.  Drinking and cooking became the only use of freshwater onboard for the next 20 days.

On the positive side, after rewiring our race tracking transponder and mounting it on the stern rail, with a clear view of the satellites it needs to communicate with, we never missed another poll of our position by the race tracking system.  Hopefully this resulted in more consistent position information for our boat on the race tracker.  

After the race finished off El Salvador, we grouped into groups of 4 boats by finish position (we were 9th overall, so in the group of the last 4 boats) and started motorsailing south once we were all within radio range.  To give our engines a rest each day, we would stop for an hour or two and go for a swim, complete with swinging off the bow pulpit on the spinnaker halyard and flinging ourselves out into the water.   With all the boats running low on fuel, we pulled into Golfito, Costa Rica in the wee hours of the morning and waited for the bar and fuel dock to open.  Fortunately for the crew, the bar opened (with a little cajoling from James) at 6:00, followed by the fuel dock at 7:00.  The crew managed to eat and drink an overwhelming amount in a couple of short hours and as soon as Greg had cleared us in and out of customs, immigration and with the port captain, we were back on board and underway to Panama at 9:30.  But not before adding Cost Rica to the list of places I’d like to come back to for a proper visit.  Beautiful coastline, towering mountains and jungle that runs right down to the breakers - very Jurassic Park looking.  

Another two days of motorsailing and we covered the 350 miles to Panama and the Flemenco marina.  Greeted by a skeleton crew from Clipper and cold beers, we have just over 2 days to rest, load up on fresh provisions, refuel again, finish some final maintenance and transit the Panama Canal, before we set off on Race 11 to New York City.  Already looking forward to a proper rest when we get to the Big Apple!