tv NBC Nightly News NBC June 27, 2012 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
firestorm. the fire danger in colorado explodes overnight. new evacuations from a major city. part of the air force academy shut down. tonight the moment of crisis for families trying to escape these flames. diet pill, the first new weight loss prescription in a decade. but why the questions about safety? high honors for a proud grouof u.s. marines. why it took so long to give them the recognition they deserve. what a life, remembering norah ephron, the author, humorist and screen writer who has suddenly left us with so much material. "nightly news" begins much material. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with brian williams. good evening. tonight the situation is growing desperate in colorado.
while fires are burning throughout the american west, the effort to suppress a big one moving toward colorado springs is verging on a combat operation tonight. the conditions sadly are perfect for fires. single digit humidity, 100 degree plus temperatures during the day, high winds at night. the conditions are miserable for the army of firefighters trying to slow it down, trying to make a stand. the campus of the u.s. air force academy has been evacuated now because of this encroaching monster. 32,000 people are out of their homes, and many of those homes sadly are no longer there to return to. these are indeed desperate times in the rockies. we begin once again tonight with nbc's miguel almaguer in colorado springs. miguel, good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening. it was this time last night when those winds started kicking up again like they are right now. the situation here on the ground quickly spiraled out of control.
tonight it's feared dozens of homes have been lost. in the hills above colorado springs, a raging inferno devouring home after home. 1,000 firefighters overwhelmed. what they call a firestorm of epic proportions. >> it's as bad as it gets out there right now. door to door, street by street. firefighters inside, outside trying to keep the flames away from buildings. >> with winds whipping at 65 miles an hour, flames exploded past fire breaks. >> it jumped two ridges, and it moved three miles in less than an hour. >> the governor toured from the air and said it looked like a movie set. >> there weren't trees on fire. there were people's homes burned to the ground, block after block. it's almost surreal. >> with toxic smoke spreading and ash raining across the city of nearly half a million, mass evacuations were ordered during rush hour. >> everybody trying to get out of the neighborhood.
people, look at that. it's chaos. >> interstate 25 jammed for hours. the air force academy cleared 600 homes, entire subdivisions were empty. scott collected family heirlooms. >> this has got to go. >> reporter: sarah felt the flames closing in on her home. >> i lived there for 20 years, so many friends. >> reporter: this morning from the air, lingering smoke obscured the full extent of the damage. more than 100 planes and helicopters joined the fight. >> it's different when it's your hometown. >> for veteran air force pilot robert fairbanks, this is personal. >> very close to home. very close to home. very close to family, friends, church, schools. >> reporter: after a night of destruction, this afternoon a light rain, a brief moment of relief. >> it's like this black thing coming over. >> reporter: jean escaped the flame. today with our long lens camera,
she saw her home still standing. with the forecast calling for more wind and high heat, one firefighter tells me they have seen what this fire can do and they are now prepared for a second punch. on friday the president will tour the destruction zone here in colorado. brian. >> miguel almaguer starting us off again tonight. by the way, when we use figures like 32,000 evacuations, try to think about what that means, apply it to your own life. all these people are yanked from their homes and their lives and told to get out now. they are forced to make split second decisions and they often don't know where to go. we have some of their stories tonight from nbc's kristen dahlgren. >> oh, my god, this is just not good. >> reporter: if you had just minutes to leave your home, what would you bring? >> things passed down from my mom. >> reporter: where would you go?
what would you worry most about? >> how do i get to her? do you know how i get to her? >> reporter: family, pets. for 32,000, decisions are now split seconds. there's no time. bobby romero can't reach his sister-in-law. >> i'm just praying a lot, praying a lot. >> he's going to have to find a new home today. >> for some, home is now the back of a truck. for others with friends in safe neighborhoods. or if they are lucky to find a vacancy -- >> right now i just need to be in a hotel because i need to calm my dog down. the uncertainty is just is my house still standing. >> reporter: do more than watch. >> i have a tv in my room and a radio and a clock. i just miss all my things. >> reporter: clinging to what
they do still have, hope. >> hoping that fire will go away. >> reporter: knowing that for some, that hope may be all they have left. >> god is good, and it's going to be okay. >> reporter: kristen dahlgren, nbc news. >> unbelievable. while it's different, there is misery tonight in florida. tropical storm debby is finally gone officially, but the damage and the mess left behind are extreme. weather channel meteorologist jim cantore still on the scene and is with us again tonight. hey, jim, good evening. >> reporter: hey, brian from one extreme right to another. you can see a lot of floodwaters remain behind me here. trucks and buildings still submerged tonight. here is the latest we've got. four confirmed dead now from tropical storm debby. 6,000 homes in 17 counties without power. hundreds of roads in north central florida are under water at this time. interstate 10, which has been closed since monday morning at 9:00 a.m. may reopen tomorrow morning.
that is a tremendous time for an interstate to be closed. that's because the water is simply not going away here. 300 people had to be evacuated today from several counties in northern florida. many people tried to venture out. they have been in their homes a couple of days now and actually had to be rescued because they ran into floodwater that was just way too deep. the rivers are expected to crest next month, brian. this is a very flat area. it's going to take a long time for water to get in the rivers. once those rivers do crest, they will recede slowly, possibly toward the end of next month. for the next extreme, we will talk about extreme heat. we're talking several days of 100 degrees or better across at least two-thirds of this country. >> jim, we're thinking of them down there tonight, too. jim cantore, live oak, florida. thanks. just after 10:00 a.m. eastern time tomorrow, we will know if the u.s. supreme court is going to let stand the obama health care law or not. whatever they say will affect all americans. parts of that law are already in effect. children can be covered on their
parents policies until the age of 26 and they can't be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. also in effect already, preventive screenings like mammograms, colonoscopies. the big provision slated to arrive in 2014 is that mandate requiring every american to have insurance. by 2014, no adult can be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. there can be no annual dollar limit on the amount of coverage a person can receive. so having said all that, a lot at stake. our justice correspondent pete williams is at the court tonight. pete, you know as much about the court as anyone i know, so here is the question. they can uphold, they can strike it down, and don't they have a number of options in between? >> exactly right. if they say the individual mandate, the requirement to have health insurance is unconstitutional, then the question is how much of the rest of this 1,000 page long law will stand. the obama administration says if the mandate goes away, that's a big revenue stream for insurance
companies, then likely the things that will cost the insurance companies more will have to go, too, such as pre-existing condition coverage for adults and things the insurance companies can't vary rates based on a person's age or sex or medical condition. >> all right. pete williams, we'll be speaking with you on this broadcast tomorrow night as we review what the court has to say. pete williams at the supreme court. also in washington tonight, a long overdue honor, as the government took a step to recifying an injustice over treatment african-american marines received when they were first allowed to join the corps back in the 1940s. today some 400 survivors received the congressional gold medal, an honor many of them could not have imagined back then but an honor their nation owed them. a report from our pentagon correspondent, jim miklaszewski. >> reporter: at 87, george mitchell and oscar culp still put in a six-day week at their
furniture store in oceanside, california. culp says it's a work ethic developed as montford port marines. >> the marine corps made a man out of me. >> reporter: but it was a painful journey. at the height of world war ii, culp and mitchell were among the first blacks in the marine corps and immediately segregated from white marines. 20,000 recruits went through boot camp at montford point, built specifically for blacks, little more than a mosquito, snake infested swamp. >> what was that like? >> it was hell, really. the water was terrible. smelled. >> it's where they trained, ate and slept, without ever seeing a white marine. once out of boot camp, mitchell became a target for racial taunts. when he refused to step to the back of the line, he took a beating. >> but in the heat of battle in the pacific, that racial divide disappeared. >> when you're being shot at over there, the bullets, they don't have no color on them
really. you become very close. >> reporter: the montford port marines had joined a marine corps that really didn't want them. to fight for their country that had denied them their civil rights. when the war had ended, their battle was far from over. they came home to a still segregated america. >> that hurt inside. you tried not to show it but it hurt. >> reporter: mitchell and culp persevered, became career marines, helped break that color barrier. thp afternoon, 70 years later, the montford point marines got the recognition they deserved, the congressional gold medal, one of the nation's highest civilian honors. >> thank god i lived long enough to see it. >> i went through hell but it was worth it. >> reporter: jim miklaszewski, nbc news, the pentagon. still ahead along the way on wednesday night, a new prescription for losing weight. is this latest pill the answer to an american epidemic?
pill is really safe. our report tonight from our chief science correspondent robert bazell. >> reporter: the drug provided only modest weight lost for most volunteers. the fda decided the benefit was worth putting it on the market despite some concerns about its safety. many weight loss doctors agreed. >> i think it's going to make it a little easier to have a tool for chronic weight loss management for those individuals that are obese, struggling to lose weight with diet and exercise alone. >> clinical trials, participants who took the drug lost an average of 3% more than those on placebo after one year. for a 220 pound man, for instance, that would be a drop to 214 pounds. just over a fifth of those in the study shed at least 10% of their body weight. the reason the fda has taken 13 years to approve a new diet drug, it was forced to pull the popular appetite suppressant fen-phen in 1997 because it
caused severe heart valve problems. this latest drug caused heart problems in animals but the company said it did not see them in human trials. some consumer advocates say the fda is making a big mistake. >> the idea of having a diet drug that's just going to press the magic bullet called hunger and not affect the rest of the body is delusional. the history of diet drugs is a history of one drug after another being approved, causing damage to the heart, causing strokes and heart attacks and being taken off the market. >> the fda ordered that the manufacturer continue studies to look for possible dangerous side effects. robert bazell, nbc news, new york. still ahead here tonight as we continue, a day that few in the uk or elsewhere for that matter thought they would ever see.
sad at and begin come to mind. so do nixon and chairman mow. this one in northern ireland. it didn't look likely in our lifetime. michelle kosinski has more on the queen's history making visit. >> reporter: a simple handshake that meant so much, the queen of england and martin mcguinness, former commander of the army, now a government official, in a friendly meeting today in belfast. pictures allowed but no sound. it once would have been unthinkable. for decades trouble in northern ireland divided catholics and protestants, separatists and loyalists. the i.r.a. led a bloody fight again irish rule, more than -- against british rule. more than 3,000 people died, including the queen's own cousin, lord mountbatten killed on his boat in 1979. in the town of enniskillen where the king visited yesterday, a a 187 bombing killed 11, among them marie wilson, who died in her father's arms. >> she said, daddy, i love you
very much. those were the last words she spoke. >> reporter: he forgave the bombers, what began a long process of reconciliation. today's handshake mattered. >> absolutely clear evidence the political process is here to stay. there's no going back. >> reporter: still security today was tight in a society that for years has been divided between republicans and unionists. mcguinness himself remains defiant. something rare happened today in northern ireland, a moment of peace and goodwill worthy of this queen's jubilee year. michelle kosinski, nbc news, london. for a moment while we're focused across the pond, look what appeared today across the river thames, olympic rings on the gateway to the city. they will be a glowing centerpiece during the games which begin in one month, july 27th, 2012. >> barry becher has died.
he is better known as the man who brought us tv viewers the amazing ginsu knives. remember they cut through anything including cans. they never seem to get dull, thus their 50-year guarantee. he was among kings of the american infomercial. we can thank him for armourcote cookware, by the way, and miracle slicer. the brooklyn born becher was 71. his family says they are considering a tombstone that reads, "but wait, there's more." there's very little that can't be helped by humor in life. when we come back tonight, a woman who believed in that and made our lives a little bit better for it. remembering norah ephron. someone said today that
norah ephron was necessary and indispensable. she also may be irreplaceable. she died last night at the age of 71. she was, of course, an extraordinary writer and humorist. while she hated cliches, she liked a surprise ending, which is exactly what it turns out she left us with. it turns out not even close friends knew she was so sick with leukemia until yesterday's first bulletin that she was gravely ill. she was both poignant and funny.
for example, when asked about her own religion, she answered, you can never have too much butter. that is my belief. if i have a religion, that's it. well, tonight nbc's anne thompson has a look back at one of the very best. >> reporter: as a screen writer, norah ephron had a delicious way with words. >> i better go deliver this. i have a very thirsty date. she's part camel. >> reporter: it was her observations about men and women. >> you're going to be a gymnast. >> journalist. >> reporter: in films like "when harry met sally." there's two kinds of women, high maintenance and low maintenance. >> which one am i? >> the worst kind, you're high maintenance but you think you're low maintenance. >> that earned ephron a place in our hearts and film history. >> yes, yes, yes! >> i'll have what she's having. >> reporter: sally, she told bob costas, was more or less her. >> i am as big a nightmare when ordering in a restaurant as she was.
>> reporter: that nightmare was an inspiration to women. >> i think she really paved the way for people -- >> reporter: ephron broke into the boys club of hollywood directors with "sleepless in seattle", "you've got mail" and "julia & julia." >> you're book is going to change the world. >> reporter: laughing at her life. >> don't be frightened, you can always change your mind. i know. i've had four careers and three husbands. >> reporter: the daughter of screenwriters, ephron started as a newspaper reporter and then went to magazines. it was during the break up of her marriage to watergate reporter carl bernstein that she put to use her mother's lesson about humor. >> if you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you. but if you tell people you slip on a banana peel, you're a joke. >> reporter: she wrote "heartburn" a best selling novel with recipes. the movie starred meryl streep. >> i'm never getting married again. i don't believe in marriage. >> i highly recommend having meryl streep play you.
>> reporter: whether writing about aging or divorce, ephron had this mantra. >> be the heroine of your life not the victim. >> she never was the victim, even as she died from leukemia. her friend, tom brokaw. >> she went out on her own terms. it was a terrible illness. she kept it to herself for the most part. when we lost her, she had lived a very complete life, professionally and personally. >> reporter: in her final book ephron wrote a list of what she'd miss, her kids, her husband nicholas pileggi, butter, coming over the bridge to manhattan, pie. what we'll miss is norah ephron. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. that's our broadcast for this wednesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. of course we hope to see you right back here tomorrow. of course we hope to see you right back here tomorrow. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com
good evening and thank you for joining us. >> paradise interrupted, a family vacation to hawaii turns into a frightening scramble after a shark attack. we broke this story last night. a 16-year-old from livermore bitten in the leg. tonight scientists from an elite shark network have questions for her. this particular shark is usually not a threat to humans. >> reporter: the shark thought to be involved in this attac