BIDDEFORD

Man rushed to hospital after fall from railroad bridge

A man in his 50s was rushed to the hospital Tuesday after he fell 30 to 40 feet from a railroad bridge connecting Saco and Biddeford onto the frozen surface of the Saco River.

Emergency crews were summoned at 12:30 p.m. after the man had fallen from what local people call “the black bridge” near Biddeford High School, said Biddeford Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Duross.

Firefighters who were tethered to shore used a special ice sled to get 250 to 300 feet out on the ice to where the man was found unresponsive.

The man was closer to the Saco side of the river, but crews there would have had to pass through a couple of hundred yards of woods to get to shore, he said.

The ice did support the rescuers, but they took precautions so as not to complicate the emergency response, Duross said.

Once the man was bundled for transport, he regained consciousness but was suffering from multiple injuries, Duross said.

He was taken by Saco ambulance to Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford.

SACO

Combustibles near chimney likely caused attic fire

A fire Tuesday morning at a home on Blueberry Avenue in Saco was confined to the attic above the second floor, though there was smoke damage on the second floor, a fire official said.

Firefighters were called to the scene of the fire in a single-family home at 8:30 a.m., said Chief John Duross.

Investigators believe the fire may have started because of combustible material installed to close around the chimney, he said. Fire safety and building codes require 2 inches of clearance between combustibles and an interior chimney, he said, and there was evidence that the distance was less.

The fire was put out in about 15 minutes. Nobody was injured.

SOUTH PORTLAND

Police offer reward in effort to apprehend graffiti vandal

South Portland police are offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who sprayed graffiti on the sound barrier along Interstate 295 in mid-December.

Police Chief Edward Googins said an anonymous donor, after learning about the sound barrier graffiti, contributed $5,000 toward a fund to help identify that person and others who vandalize public property with graffiti.

“Graffiti vandalism has become far too brazen,” Googins said at a news conference Tuesday to announce the reward fund.

“This really is an in-your-face (target),” he said of the vandalism. “That sound barrier is seen by a lot of people every day. The appearance of the wall is pretty important to the community.”

Googins said it can be difficult for police to investigate since the vandals typically must be caught in the act and they operate at times when there are few people about.

Someone spray-painted the word “Bro” in large black balloon letters on each panel of the long wall.

NEW GLOUCESTER

Baby sitter and 4-year-old escape fast-spreading fire

A fast-spreading chimney fire badly damaged a home at 177 Pond Road in New Gloucester on Tuesday morning.

Firefighters were called to the house at about 9 a.m. after a baby sitter reported smoke filling the house and a possible problem with a wood-burning stove. The baby sitter and the 4-year-old child she was watching got out safely.

Capt. Scott Doyle was the first firefighter on the scene and was brought into the house by a neighbor. The two could see flames behind a wall through which the stove pipe passed to the chimney, he said.

Doyle moved his vehicle out of the 500-foot driveway to make room for the two engines, tanker and rescue vehicle that were on the way. By the time he ran back up to the house, it was engulfed in flames.

“It was remarkable” how fast the fire spread, he said. The house is of older construction, which may have contributed to the spread of the fire, he said.

Doyle summoned assistance from Poland, Gray and Raymond. In all, 25 firefighters helped battle the blaze, he said.

Nobody was injured. The structure is still standing but the house is uninhabitable, he said.

The resident, Dusty Wallace, who lives there with his two children, 4 and 6, was not home at the time of the fire. The Red Cross is helping with emergency shelter and clothing. Thee family did not have insurance, Doyle said.

ARUNDEL

Driver not seriously injured in tractor-trailer crash

A Massachusetts man escaped serious injury when the tractor-trailer truck he was driving careened off the Maine Turnpike southbound Monday morning, police said.

Michael Rossi, 36, of Woburn, Mass., swerved to avoid another truck also headed south but traveling more slowly in front of him.

Rossi’s truck went off the road and into a stand of trees, said Maine State Police Trooper Gavin Hager. The cab of the truck was destroyed and Rossi was taken to Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford for treatment of minor injuries.

Witnesses told police the truck in front of Rossi’s was traveling at the speed of other traffic when Rossi came upon it quickly. Hager said the crash could have been much more serious if the truck had been loaded or if Rossi had hit another vehicle.

Christina Conway came upon the crash shortly after it happened. She saw skid marks from the truck’s tires along the west side of the road that veered off toward the trees. She said she was amazed the driver wasn’t seriously injured.

“It looked so horrific,” she said. “It looked like a twisted tin can, like somebody took a dishtowel and rung it out.”

The truck is owned by W.L. French Jr. Trucking Co. of North Billerica, Mass.

FALMOUTH

Portland student advances to Maine State Spelling Bee

Lucy Tumavicus, an eighth-grader from Lincoln Middle School in Portland, won the Cumberland County Spelling Bee Tuesday night over a field of 28 at Falmouth Middle School.

Tumavicus, who was runner-up in the county last year, correctly spelled “potash” in the 10th round to advance to the Maine State Spelling Bee, scheduled for March 22.

Derek Allen, a Cape Elizabeth Middle School eighth-grader, finished second.

In a departure from previous years, the bee included a round of vocabulary requiring participants to choose one of two meanings for a given word.

Only three of the remaining seven spellers advanced beyond that fifth round: Tumavicus, Allen and third-place finisher Maya Denkmire, a fifth-grader from Ocean Avenue Elementary School in Portland.

FRYEBURG

Man arrested, charged with burglary, arson other crimes

A 19-year-old Fryeburg man was arrested and charged Tuesday with a series of crimes, including burglary and arson, that spread fear in an east Fryeburg neighborhood during two months last year.

Detective Sgt. Joshua Potvin said Dylan Thorner surrendered to police without incident around 2 p.m. at his home at 1302 Bridgton Road.

“Many of our citizens have been on edge since these crimes were committed. Tonight they can rest easy,” Potvin said in a news release.

Thorner, who is unemployed and lives with his parents, is being held at the Oxford County Jail in Paris on $7,000 cash bail. He was charged with eight felonies, including arson, burglary, theft of a motor vehicle, criminal mischief and theft.