READFIELD

Body found after house fire; three occupants still missing

A fire ripped through a Church Road home early Wednesday, killing at least one person. Three of five occupants remained unaccounted for Wednesday night.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office recovered one body in the rubble of the house at 447 Church Road, and the victim had not been identified Wednesday afternoon, according to a news release from Maine Department of Safety spokesman Steve McCausland. Officials spent much of the day looking for David Silva and Lindsey Spence, who rented the home.

Officials did not identify the two people who had been accounted for Wednesday, or the one other who had not.

Readfield fire Capt. Al Godfrey said firefighters spent several hours at the scene searching the rubble for any indication Silva and Spence might have been at home at the time of the blaze. “The car was gone. We’re under the presumption nobody was home,” he said.

Subzero conditions made work more difficult for firefighters, who had to contend with freezing trucks and walkways. A school bus was brought in to help warm firefighters chilled by temperatures that hit 5 below zero.

An investigator with the state Fire Marshal’s Office spent Wednesday at the scene.

Anyone with information about the fire or the occupants of the house is asked to call the Maine State Police in Augusta at 624-7076.

AUGUSTA

Maine students 12th in U.S. in gauge of college AP test

Maine ranked 12th in the nation for the percentage of high school students in the class of 2010 who had at least one successful Advanced Placement experience, the Maine Department of Education announced Wednesday.

Nearly one in five Maine high school seniors took a college-level course and scored at least a 3 out of 5 points on an AP exam, which is eligible for credit at many colleges and universities, the College Board reported.

Maine had a higher percentage of students participating in AP courses than the national average, and a higher percentage of students scoring well on the exams.

Maine also showed a significant increase in the percentage of students scoring well on an AP exam, 4.8 percent over five years. Only three other states had a higher rate.

Among 33 possible subjects, the most popular AP courses for Maine’s class of 2010 were U.S. history, English literature and composition, English language and composition, calculus and biology.

SOUTH PORTLAND

Man who reported pot theft arrested after raid at home

Police arrested a 37-year-old man after seizing 135 marijuana plants and more than 2 pounds of processed marijuana from his home.

Brendan McGann is charged with felony cultivation of marijuana and marijuana trafficking.

Police say McGann reported the theft of four marijuana plants last fall from his backyard. At the time, he told police he was allowed to grow the plants because he was registered as a “caregiver” under state medical marijuana law.

Upon further investigation, police say they determined McGann was not registered with the state and therefore couldn’t legally grow marijuana. Maine’s medical marijuana law allows registered caregivers to grow up to six marijuana plants for up to five medical marijuana patients.

PORTLAND

State awaiting blood tests to determine cause of death

The state medical examiner is waiting for blood tests to determine what killed a Portland man whose body was found outside 255 Oxford St. on Monday morning.

Police on Wednesday identified the man as David S. Ring, 39. An autopsy performed Tuesday in Augusta was inconclusive.

Police say there was no indication of foul play.

Wells man in critical condition after being ejected in crash

A Wells man remained in critical condition at Maine Medical Center on Wednesday afternoon after a single-car crash on Route 202 in Waterboro the night before.

Cale Boston, 26, was ejected from the car at about 10 p.m. He was taken to Goodale Hospital before being transferred to Maine Medical Center with life-threatening injuries.

The car’s other occupant, Devin R. Brennan, 21, of Sanford suffered minor injuries and refused to be taken to the hospital.

Police say alcohol and speed contributed to the crash at RailRoad Avenue, but no charges have been brought yet. Police are still trying to determine who was driving at the time of the crash. The car belonged to Boston’s mother.

The case remains under investigation and the crash is being reconstructed by the Maine State Police.

Police say man found dead in Congress Street apartment

Portland police are investigating the death of a man in an apartment on Congress Street.

Police were called to the 800 block of Congress Street just after 3 p.m. Wednesday There were no immediate signs of foul play.

BRIDGTON

Flames, explosion destroy automotive repair shop

Fire and an explosion destroyed an automotive repair shop at the intersection of routes 107 and 117 Wednesday night.

Deputy Fire Chief Tim Cook said firefighters encountered heavy fire when they arrived at Johnson’s Garage.

As firefighters prepared to attack the flames, a large explosion rocked the garage, blowing out several windows and causing the roof to collapse. No one was injured.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office will investigate the cause of the fire, which was reported about 6:30 p.m.

BETHEL

Ailing owl in recovery center after decapitating chickens

A Maine barred owl is in rehabilitation after it was caught inside a Bethel barn where it had been decapitating a chicken a day and flying off with the heads.

Wildlife biologist Judy Camuso says owls are having a tough time finding food this winter and the owl was doing everything it could to survive. She says it was near death.

She says many animals that owls live on, such as squirrels and voles, live under the snow.

Camuso says chickens are too big for owls to carry off and owls are known for eating the heads of their prey.

The owl was captured Sunday. It was taken Monday to Avian Haven, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Freedom.

“This individual is in fairly good shape compared to others we have admitted in the last couple months,” said Avian Haven’s Diane Winn in an e-mail. “Most of our winter admissions, like this one, have been juveniles that seem to be having a hard time making it through their first winter.”

In addition to being undernourished, Winn said, the Bethel owl has an eye injury.

She said the center will keep the owl “at least until the eye injury has healed, and possibly a bit longer, until weather conditions are more favorable for making a living.

BATH

Snowe, Collins hail contract for BIW engineering work

Maine’s two U.S. senators are applauding a $6.7 million contract so Bath Iron Works can perform additional engineering services on the design and construction of the U.S. Navy’s Zumwalt-class destroyer.

Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both Republicans, say the money from the Department of the Navy will allow the team at the Bath shipyard to continue the engineering work.

They say the award is another reminder that Bath Iron Works remains the crown jewel of the Navy’s shipbuilding base.

BOSTON

Regulators propose raising limit on yellowtail flounder

Regulators have proposed a substantial increase in the catch limit of a key New England fish species, yellowtail flounder.

The recommendation announced Wednesday came from regulators of a section of Georges Bank jointly managed by the United States and Canada.

Their proposal would allow an 18 percent increase from last year’s catch limit and 44 percent more than what had been proposed for the 2011 fishing year, which starts in May.

The change, which needs final federal approval, follows a new law that exempts U.S. negotiators from considering a 10-year time line to rebuild fish stocks when dealing with Canada. Lawmakers said the tight time line put the United States at a disadvantage.

Fishermen also argued they needed a higher yellowtail limit because if they exceed their limit on one species, they must stop fishing on all stocks.