Balloon pilot satisfactory day after suffering burns

The pilot of a hot air balloon was in satisfactory condition Sunday after suffering second-degree burns at the Great Falls Balloon Festival in Lewiston the day before, said a spokeswoman for Maine Medical Center.

Andre Boucher, who was still at Maine Medical Center late Sunday afternoon, was one of five people injured when propane ignited as he was charging a fuel line.

Boucher’s injuries — burns to his arms, legs and face — were the worst sustained in the incident, according to Joshua Shea, a spokesman for the festival.

About 7:10 p.m. Saturday, within minutes of the balloon’s scheduled take-off, a backup of propane came into contact with the burner and ignited.

Gay-marriage supporters gather 5,200 signatures

Gay-marriage supporters in Maine gathered more than 5,000 signatures during the first official day of petition-gathering around the state.

EqualityMaine targeted a number of communities, including Portland, Kennebunk, Biddeford, York, Bangor, Ellsworth and Brunswick, on Saturday. The idea was to hit heavily attended summer festivals.

On Sunday, EqualityMaine put the tally at 5,200.

To put gay marriage on the 2012 ballot, organizers need to collect at least 57,277 voters’ signatures by Jan. 30. The bill would first go to the Legislature, which would have an option to pass it.


Motorcycle crash sends one person to hospital

One person was hurt in a motorcycle crash on Bath Road on Sunday afternoon.

The injured person was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland after the crash, which was reported to Brunswick police just before 1 p.m.

No other information about the crash or the person who was hospitalized was immediately available.


Lightning strike starts fire that destroys shed

A shed was destroyed but a nearby home spared from damage following a late-afternoon lightning strike that started a fire here Sunday.

A dispatcher for the Limington Fire Department said the lightning hit a shed at 546 Ossipee Trail around 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

No one was injured, and firefighters were able to extinguish the fire before it could spread to a nearby home.

It was the second time in a matter of days that there was a lightning strike in Limington. Last week, lightning struck a telephone pole in the town.


Reserve officer rescues man on boogie board

A Wells reserve officer rescued a man on a boogie board who was in distress off Moody Beach on Sunday night.

Sgt. Tigg Frieh said Andrew Caron swam out to the man after police were notified that a swimmer was calling out for help.

Caron removed his vest, boots and gun belt before swimming out to 60-year-old Joseph Mahoney, a New Hampshire resident. Caron pulled Mahoney to shore safely.

“He (Mahoney) clearly could not get back to shore, and he was getting pretty desperate,” Frieh said.

As for Caron, Frieh said he dried off before finishing his shift. This is Caron’s second summer working as a reserve police officer in Wells.

Mahoney did not suffer any injuries.


Meeting to discuss concerns about CMP’s smart meters

Speakers at a meeting here Tuesday will talk about concerns with Central Maine Power Co.’s smart meters.

Called “Smart Meters: A Dumb Idea,” the forum is sponsored by the Camden Smart Meter Safety Coalition.

Speakers include Elisa Boxer-Cook of Scarborough, founder of the Maine Smart Meter Safety Coalition, and Bath City Councilor David Sinclair. The Maine Smart Meter Safety Coalition is opposed to CMP’s plan to replace all of its electricity meters with digital “smart meters” that communicate via a wireless network.

The meeting will be from 7 to 9 p.m. at the First Congregational Church on the corner of Free and Elm streets.

For more information, call Laurie Wolfrum at 236-4276 or Nancy Caudle-Johnson at 236-6855.


Hempstock wraps up four days of activities

Maine’s best-known pro-marijuana festival wrapped up Sunday afternoon after four days of events.

This year’s edition of Hempstock featured speeches by marijuana activists as well as more than 30 bands, including Gent Treadly, Big Rhythm Wine, Supernaut, Holy Smoke, Skyfoot, 220s and Between the Lines.

Organizer Don Christen said Hempstock, held at Freedom Field in Harmony, had activities for all ages, including horseshoes, volleyball and Frisbees.


LePage asks Guard to cancel its low-level training flights

Gov. Paul LePage is asking the Air National Guard to cancel plans to expand low-level training for fighter pilots over western Maine.

LePage told the National Guard and the Federal Aviation Administration that the expanded training area is a “want, not a need.” He also said the National Guard targeted Maine out of political expediency because it would be more difficult to expand training in upstate New York.

LePage’s letter, dated Friday, was first reported by the Sun Journal newspaper.

The Air National Guard is seeking additional airspace for training for homeland defense. Under the proposal, fighter jets from National Guard units in Massachusetts and Vermont would be allowed to fly as low as 500 feet over western Maine and a sliver of northern New Hampshire.

Regulators will collect old or banned pesticides

Maine pesticides regulators are asking homeowners and farmers to sign up to have containers of old pesticides they may have around their properties collected.

The Pesticides Control Board said it will dispose of banned pesticides or pesticides that have become caked, frozen or otherwise rendered unusable, at no cost to homeowners.

Old chemicals like DDT, lead arsenate and chlordane are often discovered in barns, basements, sheds and garages. Collected chemicals go to out-of-state disposal facilities licensed by the federal government, where they are incinerated or reprocessed.

Preregistration is required by Sept. 30. To register and get details, go to the pesticide board website at www.thinkfirstspraylast.org or call the board at 287-2731.

Report supports increase in spruce, fir harvesting

A new study says harvest levels of Maine’s spruce and fir trees can be increased significantly over the next 20 years while inventory levels remain steady.

The report by Old Town natural-resource consulting firm James W. Sewall Co. examines Maine’s private, state and commercial timberlands, excluding federal lands, amounting to slightly more than 17 million acres.

It predicts an opportunity over the next two decades to significantly increase harvest levels of spruce and fir while still maintaining current levels of their standing inventory.

According to state officials, this means that Maine’s forest products industry can play a significant role in a resurging national economy and in creating new jobs throughout Maine’s woodlands region.

The report was released by Gov. Paul LePage’s office Friday.

— From staff and news services