Family loses home in early-morning fire

A family lost their home on Highland Lake and most of their belongings Wednesday in an early-morning fire.

Fire Chief Howard Rice Jr. said Jan and William Bennett, who own the home, escaped safely with two other occupants and a dog after they were awakened by the sound of smoke detectors.

The two-alarm fire, reported at 3:13 a.m., brought fire crews from Falmouth, Windham, Westbrook and Cumberland to the home at 40 Lowell Farm Road.

Rice said firefighters fought the fire in temperatures that reached 6 degrees below zero. Several firefighters slipped on ice and fell, but no serious injuries were reported.

Because the year-round home, which was converted in the 1970s from a camp, is on a gravel road overlooking the lake, fire crews had to lay down a 3,000-foot-long water line from the house back to a hydrant on Mast Road, on the Westbrook line.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of the fire, which appears to have started near the chimney.


OSHA fines hospital for safe workplace violations

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is fining a mental health hospital $11,700 for failing to provide a safe workplace for its employees.

OSHA’s investigation into Bangor-based Acadia Hospital determined that it failed to provide a safe workplace for employees and faulted the hospital for inadequately documenting work-related injuries.

The investigation began after an employee complained of an increase in assaults by patients in the wake of a stringent “no restraint” policy imposed by hospital management.

The Bangor Daily News said the first complaint elicited additional concerns from employees.


SAD 44 considers closing two elementary schools

School Administrative District 44 is considering closing two elementary schools as a way to balance the budget.

Voters in the district that serves Andover, Bethel, Greenwood, Newry and Woodstock could vote to close the elementary schools in Woodstock and Andover to save $458,000. The two schools have a total of 105 students.

Officials are trying to close a $1.2 million budget shortfall caused in part by a decrease in state aid. If the schools were to close, the children would be sent to the Crescent Park Elementary school in Bethel.

The Sun Journal said the school board plans to meet Monday to vote on closing the two schools as well as modifications to the Woodstock school, if it remains open.