The cause of the fire was under investigation, the dispatcher said, adding that the house appeared to be a complete loss. Settlement to be filed in church sex abuse caseA $660 million settlement for 508 victims of sexual abuse by clergy in the Los Angeles Archdiocese is to be filed in court today, according to attorneys for the victims and the Archdiocese. It is by far the largest payout yet by an archdiocese since the Catholic church sex abuse scandal broke in Boston in 2001, and comes as the first civil case against the Archdiocese was to begin today. It his first statement since the settlement was revealed, a contrite Cardinal Roger Mahony apologized to victims – many of whom were children when they were molested – and acknowledged he made mistakes handling the scandal. During a news conference yesterday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, he also said he suffered a spiritual “bottom” during the past few years. “Once again I want to apologize to anyone who has been offended, who has been abused by the Catholic church, by priests, by deacons, religious men and women or lay people in the church,” he said. “It should not have happened and it should not ever happen again.” Mahony said his biggest regret is that he cannot give the victims back their innocence. “So many of the victims have told me in various ways that even though the cases are resolved, even though they’re receiving some compensation, there really is no way to go back and give them that innocence that was taken from them,” he said. “It is the one part of the settlement process I find most frustrating, because the one thing I wish I could give the victims I can’t, and that is a restoration to where they were.” Some of the victims said they believe the cardinal settled only because he didn’t want to testify. They also said he should be criminally prosecuted for covering up the scandal for years. Spector trial to continueNightclub promoter Punkin Irene Elizabeth Laughlin is expected back in court today to testify about her late friend, actress Lana Clarkson, in the murder trial of rock music producer Phil Spector. Spector, 67, is accused of fatally shooting the 40-year-old Clarkson, who was also a House of Blues VIP hostess, in the foyer of his Alhambra mansion during the early hours of Feb. 3, 2003. He maintains she committed suicide. Laughlin, whose nickname is “Punkin Pie,” is expected to testify about Clarkson’s mental state in the months leading up to her death, in particular her alleged despair over her sagging acting career, her relationships with men, her alcohol consumption and financial difficulties. Laughlin testified Thursday that Clarkson was her “best friend in the whole wide world.” Clarkson and Laughlin became fast friends after meeting at a Halloween party in 1993, she told the court. “She was my mother, my sister, the best date you ever had because she was always on time,” Laughlin said. “She was the funniest person I ever knew.” Prosecutors are still expected to call more witnesses, possibly finishing their case-in-chief today, Deputy District Attorney Patrick Dixon said Thursday. Attorneys on both sides are also expected to argue this week about whether convicted Hollywood madam Jody “Babydol” Gibson will testify for the defense. Gibson suggested in her autobiography that Clarkson worked for her. Port union talks to avoid strikeTalks on reaching a new three-year contract and avoiding a strike by clerical workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach were under way early today despite a midnight deadline that had been set by the union. A strike by the office workers could cripple the two ports, which handle between $1 and $2 billion of cargo daily and together represent the nation’s biggest port complex, during one of the busiest shipping months of the year, when goods for sale over the Christmas season begins arriving. Longshoremen have vowed to honor the clerks’ strike if one takes place. John Fageaux, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s Office Clerical Unit Local 63, which represents about 930 clerks, had said they would go on strike if no agreement was reached by midnight, but talks continued at a Long Beach hotel after the deadline passed. Attorney Stephen Berry, representing 14 shipping firms operating at the ports, said the clerks have been offered a “generous” three-year package, including 20 paid holidays, 13 sick days and up to six weeks of vacation a year. According to Berry, the union earlier rejected a proposal to raise the hourly wage of clerical workers from $37.50 to $39.20 over three years. There are also disagreements over work rules and technology. Port clerks make about $78,000 a year before benefits, Berry said. The two sides have been in talks since May. The previous contract expired June 30. Movie, TV writers negotiate contractNegotiations will begin today for a new collective bargaining agreement for movie and television writers amid wide differences, mistrust and fears of a strike that could wreak havoc on primetime schedules. The Writers Guild of America is seeking a residual formula for rerunning programming on the Internet and terms governing writing new materials for emerging platforms, which also include cellular telephones. Other demands include increased jurisdiction over unscripted series, game shows, animated and non-fiction programming; the residual formula for DVDs; product integration into scripted series and pay for programming for The CW and My Network TV, the so-called mini-networks. Officials with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios and networks, have called for a study that could change the time-honored residual system, which provides for writers to receive additional payments when movies and television series are released on DVDs, shown abroad or otherwise resold. The guild quickly rejected the proposal. Lohan emerges from rehabLindsay Lohan is out of rehab after a six-week stint at a swank Malibu substance treatment center, but her representative says she has elected to wear analcohol monitoring bracelet, attend daily AA meetings and submit to daily testing. Lohan, who left Promises on Friday, was in Las Vegas over the weekend, attending a surprise party for her roommate/assistant, Jenny, at a nightclub called Pure, along with some 10 friends on Saturday night. She sipped an energy drink, People magazine reported on its Web site. Triple-digit temps predicted in desert Triple-digit temperatures are expected today in the desert areas, with heat hovering in the high 80s and low 90s in the San Fernando Valley, forecasters predict. Temperatures were predicted for 92 in Woodland Hills, 101 in Palmdale, 100 in Lancaster, 94 in Santa Clarita, 87 in Glendale, 88 in Burbank, 90 in San Fernando, and 85 in downtown Los Angeles.Three-vehicle crash on Antelope Valley (14) Freeway The CHP reported a three-vehicle crash this morning on the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway near Santiago Road. The crash was reported at 5:11 a.m. No injuries were reported.Crime news For up-to-date news and observations on crime in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, check out the Daily News’ crime blog by clicking here.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Fire burns house in Leona ValleyLEONA VALLEY – A house burned down today in the unincorporated Leona Valley area west of Palmdale, a fire department dispatcher said. The fire at 40210 97th Street West, near Elizabeth Lake Road, was reported about 12:45 a.m. and knocked down about 1:35 a.m., said a Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatcher. A firefighter was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, he said. Neighbors said there was no one home at the time of the blaze, he said. Small earthquakes reported Two tiny earthquakes struck the Southland early today, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The first, with a magnitude of 2.7, struck at 2:37 a.m., its epicenter 2 miles east-northeast of Lake View Terrace, according to the U.S.G.S Web site. The second, registering a magnitude of 1.4, came at 2:51 a.m. and was centered 2 miles southeast of Palm Desert in Riverside County.