New England in Brief

Lightning strikes start three house fires

July 24, 2011

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Lightning strikes ignited three house fires in Halifax yesterday, heavily damaging one home and razing another, fire officials said. Firefighters were called to a home at 11:15 a.m. on Monponsett Street, where the fire was contained to the attic and caused extensive damage, Halifax Fire Chief William C. Carrico said. About 15 minutes later, firefighters were called to a house on Ocean Avenue, but were delayed by construction at a railroad crossing, he said. By the time crews arrived, the home was engulfed in flames, and the house was a total loss, he said. Lightning also started a fire on Carver Street around noon, but the blaze was already out by the time firefighters arrived, he said. No one was injured in the fires, he said.

Police officer under investigation The island’s police are investigating a sergeant in their ranks who was charged with drunken driving and may face weapons charges, police said. The off-duty sergeant, whose name was not disclosed, is accused of being drunk while driving his personal vehicle with his high beams on, then starting to tailgate another car late Thursday night, according to Nantucket police spokesman Lieutenant Jerry Adams. The sergeant has been placed on administrative leave, with pay, pending the investigation. “We are just investigating all the allegations and any possibilities of wrongdoing and criminal activity,’’ Adams said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Tornado-ravaged towns to get US funds The US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has approved up to $657,000 in federal funds to remove trees and other debris left by the tornadoes that struck Western Massachusetts last month. The money is being provided to the city of Springfield and the town of Monson through the Emergency Watershed Protection program, which is administered by the conservation service. Springfield and Monson officials were concerned that uprooted trees and other debris caused by the tornadoes could block culverts during heavy rains, flooding streets, and threatening public safety and nearby homes and businesses. The program will cover 75 percent of the cost of debris removal. (AP)

Firefighter sickened while battling blaze A firefighter was sent to the hospital for heat exhaustion after responding to a two-alarm fire on Webster Street yesterday afternoon, according to an official at the Weymouth Fire Department. The fire started in the kitchen of one unit at the building and was contained about 2 p.m., about an hour after the fire was reported. Chief Deputy Jonathan Tose said the unit below received extensive water damage. Residents were displaced from both units, Tose said. The fire, which caused about $100,000 in damages, is not considered suspicious but remains under investigation.

Man arrested for stabbing woman A Bristol man is under arrest after allegedly stabbing a 21-year-old Cranston woman nine times, then fleeing. Police say 33-year-old Christopher Amaral faces charges of assault with intent to commit murder after the attack on Andrea Wilmot in her driveway early yesterday. They say Amaral stabbed Wilmot in the arms, chest, shoulders, and neck, but her injuries don’t appear life-threatening. Wilmot told police Amaral was an acquaintance and former co-worker, but she didn’t want to see him anymore. She said Amaral called all night, then accosted her from behind when she returned home from an evening out. She told police she refused his request to go for a walk, then he stabbed her when they were saying goodnight. He was arrested shortly afterward by Bristol police. (AP)

Former governor Sundlun mourned Mourners passed through the state Capitol Rotunda yesterday afternoon to say goodbye to former governor Bruce Sundlun, who died Thursday at his Jamestown home at the age of 91. At 2 p.m., the Rhode Island National Guard’s Military Honor Guard detachment carried Sundlun’s coffin into the State House, followed by members of Sundlun’s family and state officials. A funeral service is set for today. (AP)

Twelve inmates arraigned in jail riot Twelve Vermont inmates were arraigned on felony charges stemming from a riot in a Massachusetts jail. The inmates were arraigned Friday on charges of malicious destruction of property worth more than $250 and conspiracy to commit malicious destruction of property worth more than $250. The Greenfield Recorder reported they all also are charged misdemeanors of disturbance of a correctional facility and defacing a county building. (AP)