New England in brief

House destroyed, 3 firefighters injured

January 5, 2010

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A three-alarm fire in Grove Hall destroyed a three-decker last night, leaving 10 residents homeless and sending three firefighters to the hospital, a fire official said. The fire broke out on the third floor of 102 Harrishof St. around 7:30 p.m., said Steve MacDonald, a fire department spokesman. The fire was sparked by an electrical short circuit and was brought under control within a half hour, he said. While battling the blaze, one firefighter suffered a back injury, another injured his shoulder, and a third suffered facial burns and an eye injury. The Red Cross was assisting the displaced residents.

Ex-court clerk guilty of soliciting sex
A former Massachusetts court clerk pleaded guilty to charges of using his position to seek sexual favors from women facing prostitution cases. The US attorney’s office said yesterday that former Chelsea District Court clerk James Burke removed a woman from the lockup area, took her into the courthouse, and received oral sex after promising to help her with her case. Burke threatened to lock up a second woman if she did not agree to his demands. She yielded in the courthouse. Burke has pleaded guilty to two counts of deprivation of civil rights under color of law. He faces up to 11 years in prison at sentencing April 13. (AP)

Bid to trim damages in file-sharing case
A college student who was ordered to pay four record labels a combined $675,000 for downloading and sharing songs online is asking a judge to grant him a new trial or reduce the damages. Joel Tenenbaum of Providence admitted he illegally downloaded and distributed 30 songs. In a motion filed yesterday in federal court in Boston, Tenenbaum’s lawyers say the damage award by a federal jury was severe and oppressive. They argue that Tenenbaum, a Boston University graduate student, was one of millions of people who downloaded and shared music. (AP)

SUV impounded in hit-and-run death
Bourne police impounded an SUV yesterday and questioned a suspect in connection with a hit-and-run that killed Andrew J. Dexter Jr., 17, of Wareham, on New Year’s Day, Police Chief Earl Baldwin said. The vehicle, a Ford Explorer registered in Massachusetts, is owned by a woman in her 20s, Baldwin said. Police scheduled an interview with a suspect yesterday, but Baldwin would not say if the suspect owns the Explorer. No charges were filed yesterday.

Gay-marriage foes organize petition drive
Gay-marriage opponents are organizing a petition drive to put a nonbinding article on the issue before New Hampshire voters at town meetings this spring. State Representative David Bates, a Republican from Windham, is organizing the effort to ask voters whether they want lawmakers to put a constitutional amendment on gay marriage on the ballot. New Hampshire’s law legalizing gay marriage took effect Friday. Legislation has been filed to repeal the law. A constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman also has been filed. (AP)

Traffic fatalities in ’09 lowest in 47 years
Stepped-up law enforcement is credited with New Hampshire recording the lowest number of traffic fatalities in 47 years. State highway safety coordinator Peter Thomson said yesterday that 109 people died on New Hampshire’s roads last year. He had to go back to 1961, when the toll of fatalities was 100, to find a better year. Thomson credited police for stepping up enforcement of drunken driving laws. . (AP)

Snowfall of 31.1 inches sets city record
Vermont’s largest city has a new snowfall record. The National Weather Service says 33.1 inches of snow fell at the Burlington International Airport from 7 a.m. Saturday to midnight Sunday, a record for a single storm. The previous record of nearly 30 inches was set in 1969. (AP)