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Associated Press Updated: October 22, 2014 at 4:45 pm

SCHOOL LAB FIRE

Fired Denver teacher charged in classroom blast

DENVER (AP) — A Denver school chemistry teacher who was fired after four students were burned in a science experiment gone wrong now faces a criminal charge.

Prosecutors filed a third-degree assault charge, a misdemeanor, against 22-year-old Daniel Powell on Wednesday. Powell couldn't be located for comment.

School officials say a fire erupted in Powell's classroom at the Science, Math and Arts Academy charter school on Sept. 15 while he was conducting a demonstration with methanol.

It marked the second time in a month that a fire linked to methanol in a science demonstration caused injuries. Thirteen people, many of them children, were hurt in a flash fire at a Reno, Nevada, museum on Sept. 3.

The Denver school said this month that three students are back in class and the fourth student continues to improve.

ISLAMIC STATE-COLORADO

Colorado girls make possible bid to join militants

DENVER (AP) — Three teenage girls from suburban Denver flew to Europe in a possible bid to join Islamic State militants in Syria, and now authorities are looking at their friends to see if any have similar intentions.

A U.S. official said the evidence gathered so far made it clear that the two sisters, ages 17 and 15, and their 16-year-old friend were headed to Syria.

The official said investigators would be trying to figure out whether there were "like-minded" friends and acquaintances in the girls' social circle.

Another U.S. official said investigators were reviewing evidence, including the girls' computers.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation by name.

The Denver Post reported that the sisters are of Somali descent, and their friend is of Sudanese descent.

PERUVIAN ARTIFACTS

US returns dozens of stolen artifacts to Peru

DENVER (AP) — Dozens of artifacts are on their way back to Peru after being seized in the United States during investigations into the smuggling of cultural relics.

U.S. Homeland Security investigators held ceremonies in Denver, San Antonio and Boston on Wednesday to repatriate over 40 items, including 20 Incan artifacts allegedly taken from graves in Peru. Investigators say a middleman purchased those items from local farmers and then shipped them to a smuggler in New England.

A Utah man forfeited two other objects — a pre-Columbian statue and a funerary vessel — after Israeli authorities arrested him on smuggling charges. Those two items and a vessel from northern Peru were returned to the Peruvian consul general during the Denver ceremony.

MASON CITY SCULPTURE

'The Farmer' sculpture wins Mason City award

(Information in the following story is from: Globe Gazette, http://www.globegazette.com/)

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) — A statue of a farmer leaning on a spade has been selected among 20 other sculptures as the most popular in Mason City.

The work, called "The Farmer," is this year's winner of the People's Choice award in the north Iowa city. The city will buy it for $15,000 and put the sculpture on permanent display. The winning sculpture is by Lawrence Starck of Loveland, Colorado.

The Mason City Globe Gazette reports the sculptures are displayed throughout Mason City as part of a program sponsored by River City Sculptures on Parade.

According to the chairwoman of River City Sculptures on Parade, more than 400 votes were cast in the competition.

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