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Brush fire in Miami-Dade under control, fire officials say

A grass fire that threatened about a dozen homes in south Miami-Dade Sunday is now under control.

The fire burned near Southwest 224th Street from 117th Avenue to 115th Avenue, requiring 20 crews from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue to tame it.

"We've been able to contain the fire to just the area that it's burning and protect all the residents in the area," said firefighter Michelle Fayed.

Firefighters said their biggest obstacle was the dry, erratic wind that fanned the flames.

"The winds are whipping on a very beautiful South Florida day, but the winds are contributing to the fire's progression in all different directions," Fayed said.

The conditions forced firefighters to use different types of equipment to dump water on the fire from all angles. They teamed with the Florida Forestry Service to control the blaze.

"Twenty crews are around the perimeter of the fire and we have Florida Forestry in the center of the fire setting back fires to impede on the fire's progression," Fayed said.

Saturday, Miami-Dade fire crews were just three blocks away battling a larger grass fire. Firefighters said the conditions this time of year create a breeding ground for these types of fires.

"It's been an exceptionally dry season here," Fayed said. "Even though we've had a lot of rain over the past week, it's not nearly enough to saturate the ground and prevent grass fires from happening."

Warnings went out for neighbors nearby. The fire burned so close to the homes, residents not only saw it, they felt it.

[RELATED: Fire burns close to homes]

"I felt the heat from the fire right there and suppose it would've been closer. It probably would've got a hold of the house," Smith said.

Smith's home and at least a dozen others were dangerously close to the brush fire, so close that fire crews put residents on notice about the possibility of forced evacuations.

"I was hoping they would contain it so we wouldn't have to evacuate," said resident Sherelle Golden.

No one was hurt in the fire, but a dog had to be rescued. The canine that had been left chained in the path of the fire is now in the care of animal services.

Residents are now able to breathe a sigh of relief, while still keeping a watchful eye on the smoldering hot spots.

"I thought they (were) going to handle it. They had it together," Golden said.

Stay with Local 10 News and Local10.com for updates on this story.

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Published: Mon, 04 May 2015 03:27:44 GMT

Woman drowns off Miami Beach, police say

According to Miami Beach police, one woman is dead and another is in critical condition after being pulled from the ocean.

Police said the two women, who are in their 20s, were pulled from the water in the area of West 54th Street and Collins Avenue.

Both were transported to Mt. Sinai Medical Center.

Police said one woman was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Police said the women were visiting from New York.

Stay with Local 10 News and Local10.com for updates on this story.

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Published: Mon, 04 May 2015 03:29:04 GMT

Atlantic Tropic Season starts early

The National Hurricane Center issued a Special Tropical Weather Outlook Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

An area of low pressure is forecast to develop near the Bahamas later this week.  As it moves slowly northward, it could begin to gradually acquire subtropical characteristics as early as Thursday or Friday.  The NHC is calling for a 30 percent chance of formation through the next 5 days, and a zero percent chance for the next 2 days.

[RELATED: Subscribe for weather alerts | Track storms ]

The moisture associated with this developing area of low pressure will bring us a dramatic increase in rain chances Monday night into Tuesday.  Right now, the forecast calls for a 70 percent chance of rain during that time period, dropping to 50 percent by Wednesday.  Winds are forecast to be east 15-20 mph, with gusts in the mid 20s Monday through Tuesday. 

Right now computer models are indicating this system will slow down and stall to our north on Thursday along the coastline of South Carolina before being pushed a touch south toward Jacksonville, Florida, late Saturday into Sunday.

Right now the biggest impacts for South Florida will be heavy rain with localized flooding Monday night through Tuesday.

The National Hurricane Center will not issue another Special Tropical Weather Outlook on this system until 11 a.m. Monday.

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Published: Sun, 03 May 2015 22:23:05 GMT

Florida judge refuses to dismiss chat room terror support case against Kenyan man

A Florida federal judge has refused to dismiss terrorism support charges against a Kenyan man.

U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro's ruling means that 27-year-old Mohamed Said will stand trial in June unless a plea agreement is reached. Said faces eight terrorism-related charges involving alleged support for al-Qaida and terrorism groups in Africa and Syria.

Said sought dismissal of a grand jury indictment on several grounds, including lack of a U.S. connection to his actions. The charges are based on chat room conversations Said allegedly had with undercover FBI operatives about financing terror groups and recruiting fighters.

Said also claimed his arrest in Saudi Arabia amounted to an illegal abduction by the U.S.

Ungaro on Friday rejected all of Said's claims. A co-defendant previously pleaded guilty.

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Published: Sun, 03 May 2015 22:09:08 GMT

Argument after car crash ends in fatal shots being fired

A woman was arrested Saturday on a charge of second-degree murder after she shot a man with whom she shared a home, police said.

The shooting happened in the early morning hours Saturday at a home located at 1060 NW 102nd St. in northwest Miami-Dade.

Miami-Dade police said officers were called to the scene because of a report of shots fired. Officers arrived and found a man suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.  

The victim, Taurus Frazier, 40, was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center, where he later died.

Police said Markeita Davis, 31, ran from the home that she shared with Frazier.

Earlier in the evening, police said, Davis was involved in a car crash, causing her vehicle to be disabled. As a tow truck was bringing the car to her, the couple got into an argument.  

Police said that is when Davis shot Frazier and fled.

As police continued to gather evidence, Davis returned to the scene and was taken into custody without incident.

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Published: Sun, 03 May 2015 14:29:52 GMT

Goal of 1 million meals surpassed at Dolphins event

Volunteers made well over their goal of 1 million meals at an event created to feed individuals 50 years old and older in South Florida.

A representative for the Dolphins said about 4,000 volunteers, including 15 current Dolphins players and coach Joe Philbin, were able to make 1,071,360 meals.

The volunteers worked an assembly line at 3301 College Avenue, combining ingredients and vitamins, to make nutritious meals of rice and beans.

The Dolphins, through their Special Teams Driven by Chevy Volunteer program, partnered with AARP for the event.

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Published: Sun, 03 May 2015 22:07:34 GMT

Singer Jimmy Buffet announced as commencement speaker for the University of Miami

Singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffet is scheduled to give the commencement address for University of Miami.

The university says Buffet will speak Friday when during the combined graduation for six of the university's schools, including the school of music.

The Margaritaville singer is also a best-selling author, philanthropist and businessman.

Buffett is active with environmental causes, such as the Save the Manatees Club, which he co-founded in 1981. Last month, he performed at the Florida Capitol, to rally the cause of buying Everglades land from a sugar company for preservation.

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Published: Sun, 03 May 2015 22:09:39 GMT

Florida legislators push bills, issues tied to their professional lives outside the Capitol

During the recently-concluded legislative session, Senate President Andy Gardiner constantly warned about the threat to the state's hospitals if they were to lose more than $1 billion that now comes from the federal government.

There's a good reason Gardiner understands hospitals: he works for one.

Gardiner's employment is legal, but it highlights a common practice in the Florida Legislature. Many legislators have places where their professional lives and legislative work overlap. The Florida Legislature is a "part-time" job that pays slightly less than $30,000 and most legislators have outside jobs that allow them to spend two months a year at the state Capitol.

The 46-year-old Gardiner is a vice president with Orlando Health, a network of private, nonprofit hospitals that receives state funding. Gardiner's pay is almost $200,000 annually and it includes incentives tied to hospital performance, including how well it does financially.

During this year's session, Gardiner has cited the potential loss of federal money as the rationale to move ahead with a Medicaid expansion plan that would draw federal money linked to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. The senators have so far stood fast against their Republican colleagues in the House, leading to the budget stalemate that was not resolved by Friday's scheduled end of session.

As the stalemate has dragged on, there's been a whisper campaign suggesting Gardiner's motives are due to his employer, and not out of concern for the hospitals dependent on the federal money known as "low income pool."

Gardiner brushes aside the criticism.

"I think it's almost more irresponsible if I say, 'I see that problem over there but I'm not going to touch it because I work in health care,'" Gardiner said.

Other Florida legislators whose professional and political careers have collided include:

— Republican Sen. John Legg, who works at a Pasco County charter school, has the lead role in shaping education laws including those that deal with charter schools. Charter schools are privately run but receive public money.

—Rep. Eric Fresen, a Miami Republican, sponsored a measure this year that could result in millions of local school district taxes being shifted to charter schools. Fresen works for an architectural and design firm that gets contracts to build charter schools. His sister is married to the head of one of the state's leading charter school management companies.

—Sen. Bill Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat, is deeply involved in education legislation. Montford's day job? He earns nearly $200,000 a year from the association that represents school superintendents. During one committee meeting this session, Montford intervened to make sure a school superintendent could testify.

—Rep. Randolph Bracy, an Orlando Democrat, was hired in mid-February as an economic development consultant by the city of Ocoee. Emails obtained by The Associated Press show that on March 13 Bracy's office submitted requests to obtain state money for the city, including a request for more than $800,000 to pay for a sidewalk trail.

The forms show that the name included as a contact for the project was the assistant city manager for Ocoee who recommended hiring Bracy.

When asked about it, Bracy said that he had put in budget requests for all the cities in his legislative district. He noted he had not started his new job yet. Bracy added that he has asked the House general counsel for an opinion about any conflict between his city contract and his legislative post.

"If they tell me that from now on I can't, I won't do it anymore," Bracy said.

The rules guiding conflict of interests for legislators aren't strict. They are allowed to vote on nearly all measures, with the exception of those that provide a special benefit to them directly. They can still vote on measures that benefit their employer, provided that they disclose it.

Florida's ethics laws are loose enough that legislators rarely get in trouble over them. Former House Speaker Ray Sansom was charged in 2009 over a budget item he pushed that appeared to benefit a GOP donor in his district. But the charges were later dropped after a judge would not allow a key witness to testify.

The Florida Commission on Ethics concluded earlier this year that Rep. Marlene O'Toole, a Sumter County Republican, violated the law because she did not disclose within 15 days that she voted on bills that steered millions to her employer, Take Stock in Children. O'Toole maintained it was an unintentional oversight and that she did not read the previous instruction of House lawyers who advised her to disclose her conflict.

Her punishment? Nothing.

Rep. Ritch Workman, the Melbourne Republican in charge of the House Rules, Calendar and Ethics Committee, in March concluded that O'Toole corrected the problem when she eventually disclosed her conflict nearly four months after the votes — and after they had been publicized.

"Your actions constitute an appropriate correction and final resolution on this matter," Workman wrote.

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Published: Sun, 03 May 2015 21:56:49 GMT

Pacquiao fans call for Mayweather rematch

Their hometown hero may be nursing his wounds, but Manny Pacquiao fans in the Philippines are already calling for a rematch.

"We are not satisfied," said Gel Bucani, 19, a Manila shopkeeper. "Rematch!" she added.

"For all of us Filipinos it's disappointing. He did everything, but nothing happened," said Mike Camenza, 23, who insisted he was still proud of the Philippines' most famous son.

Love for the "Pacman" runs deep here, even after his loss to American Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas.

The country's President, Benigno Aquino III, issued a statement Monday via his press spokesman thanking "Pacman" for his efforts.

"Filipinos can hold their heads up high... Pacquiao did us all proud when he stood his ground against one of the best boxers of our time, Floyd Mayweather," said Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr.

Coloma said the President also thanked Pacquiao "for serving as an inspiration to every Filipino in overcoming the daily challenges in the pursuit of a better life and future.

"He is a worthy exemplar that the Filipino is able to compete in the global arena -- for as long as there is a level playing field."

The statement also appeared to suggest it was time for Pacquiao to hang up his gloves.

"Hopefully, Manny may now be able to devote more time with his family and that he is able to maintain good health that will serve him in good stead in all his future endeavors."

Rags-to-riches story

Pacquiao is a huge star in his home country, where his rags-to-riches story connects to locals.

He is not just a boxer, but also a congressman, singer, basketball coach and owner of everything from a bottled water brand to a shopping mall.

Millions in the Philippines watched the fight, which was broadcast on all major television networks, shown in stadiums and parks, and even in movie theaters. Even a heat index of upwards of 40 degrees in some parts of the country wasn't enough keep the fans away.

Some 10,000 gathered for a free screening in a basketball stadium in the Manila neighborhood of San Andres.

The crowd responded boisterously when Pacquiao entered the ring to a self-recorded song, entitled "I will fight for the Filipinos." They cheered every time Pacquiao landed a punch and rarely missed an opportunity to boo his opponent, at times breaking out into chants of "Manny, Manny."

Celebrity attendees at the match in Las Vegas -- including Mark Wahlberg and Michael Jordan -- were also popular with the crowd, though they didn't have much time for Justin Bieber, who had thrown his support behind Mayweather.

No signal scare

Near disaster struck for the San Andres viewers in the 8th round, when the local satellite feed cut out and the big screen at the end of the stadium broadcast the message "no signal." Some frustrated fans started to leave the stadium, before the signal was restored to a reception of joyous shouts in the 10th round.

"It was just a technical problem," explained Sally Ramillo, duty officer of the San Andres Sports Complex.

After twelve rounds without a knockout, fans held out hope that the judges would rule in Pacquiao's favor, but it was not to be.

Disappointed after the unanimous points decision in favor of Mayweather, they quickly shuffled out of the stadium.

Less than two hours later, fans on the street were not eager to talk about the blow to their idol. But they were sure of one thing: they definitely want a rematch.

Published: Fri, 01 May 2015 09:36:23 GMT

Director pulls out of future 'Star Wars' film

One film among of a batch of new "Star Wars" movies in the pipeline has suffered a setback after director Josh Trank pulled out.

Trank, 30, was supposed to direct the second film in the "Star Wars" anthology, a spinoff series.

The official website StarWars.com announced Friday that Trank, the director of the 2012 sci-fi hit "Chronicle," had decided to jump ship.

"After a year of having the incredible honor of developing with the wonderful and talented people at Lucasfilm, I'm making a personal decision to move forward on a different path," Trank said in the statement. "I've put a tremendous amount of thought into this, and I know deep down in my heart that I want to pursue some original creative opportunities."

According to the Hollywood Reporter, however, Trank was fired from the film.

The anthology series is different from the new "Star Wars" movie that's set to come out later this year. That film, "Star Wars: Episode VII -- The Force Awakens," directed by J.J. Abrams, is set after the events depicted in "Return of the Jedi." The movie comes out December 18.

But the first anthology movie, "Star Wars: Rogue One," will take place between "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" and "Episode IV: A New Hope" (known to many as the first "Star Wars" movie from 1977).

"Rogue One" is about a group of rebels that goes on a rogue mission to steal plans for the Death Star. The movie is directed by Gareth Edwards ("Godzilla"), stars Felicity Jones and is expected to come out next year.

Trank was due to direct the next movie in the series. Disney didn't announce a new director, saying only that "the Star Wars team is continuing to develop the project."

The director's reboot of "Fantastic Four" is due in theaters August 7.

Published: Sun, 03 May 2015 05:00:00 GMT

'Star Wars' stars: Where are they now?

Today is national "Star Wars" Day in honor of the pun spoken on this date: "May the forth be with you." Find out what the stars of the blockbuster films are up to today.

Published: Sun, 04 May 2014 12:00:00 GMT

On this day: May 4

Al Capone heads to prison, the first-ever Grammys are presented, the Ohio National Guard opens fire at Kent State, and the Unabomber receives four life sentences, all on this day.

Published: Mon, 04 May 2015 06:00:00 GMT