Responders battling wildfire atop Big Spencer Mountain

Maine forest rangers and other emergency response workers were battling a two-acre wildfire Sunday on top of Big Spencer Mountain, about 22 miles northeast of Greenville.

Maine Forest Service Lt. Jeff Currier said the fire isn’t large by wildfire standards, but is “highly problematic” because of its remote location, the dry and windy conditions and the lack of nearby water.

He said the fire was burning from the top down and will probably take several days to put out.


Fire on second floor leaves 51-year-old woman dead

Police say a 51-year-old woman has died following an apartment fire here.

The fire on Hampshire Street was reported to police early Sunday morning. When authorities arrived, smoke was coming out of the building’s second floor.

The woman was located in her apartment and transported to Central Maine Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. Her name was not immediately released.

The fire was quickly brought under control before it could spread within the building or to adjacent buildings. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Officials planned to let residents return to their apartments late Sunday.


Two facing charges linked to theft of copper piping

Police say two Bingham residents face charges in the theft of copper piping from a vacant home on U.S. Route 201 in Bingham.

Somerset County Sheriff’s Corporal Ritchie Putnam was patrolling the area about 1 a.m. Sunday and saw a vehicle parked by the road with its lights on and trunk open, according to a police news release issued Sunday. Putnam saw and spoke with a man, Eric Thompson, and a woman, Seigi Brillard, both 28, and received conflicting stories about what they were doing there, the release said.

Putnam checked the vacant home to see if it was secure. Ultimately, it was determined that Thompson had entered the home, cut copper piping from the basement area and placed it in and around the vehicle, police said.

Putnam arrested Thompson and charged him with burglary and theft. Brillard was summonsed and charged with criminal trespass, for allegedly entering the home’s upper level, according to the release. The copper was valued at about $200.

Police urged residents to report any unusual activity at or near homes that are vacant or where homeowners are away. The sheriff’s department’s anonymous tip line is 474-0230.


Veterans benefit recipients warned of potential scam

The Maine Department of Labor is warning veterans of a potential scam targeting their bank accounts.

Veterans who have signed up or been approved for the new Veterans Retraining Assistance Program have been specifically affected. The program provides $1,473 monthly stipends to enrolled veterans attending an approved community college or technical school.

Some veterans say they’ve gotten phone calls from someone who promises matching money for those stipends. The caller also asks veterans to call a number to report their bank account number and to pay a $205 service fee.

Labor Commissioner Robert Winglass said veterans need to be aware of scams that target benefits they have earned. He said people should keep their financial information private and never provide it to anyone they have not directly contacted themselves.


Getaway driver in robbery sent to prison for 22 months

A New Hampshire woman is going to prison for 22 months for driving the getaway car during a bank robbery in Maine.

Christie Hendrix, 34, of Manchester, N.H., pleaded guilty and was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Prosecutors said Hendrix was with Bernie Subocz, 44, of Manchester, N.H., when he robbed a Savings Bank of Maine branch in York. Subocz allegedly stole the getaway car from a Manchester car dealership the day before the robbery. He is being held without bail on bank robbery and other charges.

The Bangor Daily News cited a sentencing memorandum that said Hendrix was repeatedly beaten by Subocz and that she was addicted to drugs at the time of the robbery.


County jail taking inmates after pay dispute resolved

A Maine county jail has begun accepting out-of-county inmates after resolving a dispute with the state Board of Corrections over payments for those prisoners.

Somerset County jail officials stopped housing out-of-county inmates in May because the state had withheld $300,000 in payments to house them.

The state’s 2008 jail consolidation law turned most of Maine’s county jails into temporary housing facilities where inmates are held until being transferred to four regional cost-effective jails, including the Somerset County Jail. The state is supposed to reimburse those jails, but Somerset County officials said the state was withholding money.

The jail has agreed to take in out-of-county inmates again after the Board of Corrections agreed to pay back $280,000 it owes from last year and fulfill its annual obligation.


Work at damaged paper mill permanently moved to Maine

Two papers mills in Maine are getting more work after their corporate owner decided to permanently close a Minnesota paper mill that has been shut down since it was gutted in a fatal Memorial Day explosion and fire.

Memphis-based Verso Paper Corp. said it will transfer work that was previously done at its plant in Sartell, Minn., to its Maine mills, in Bucksport and Jay.

Company spokesman Bill Cohen said some of the production at the Minnesota plant had already been shifted to Maine after the fire, and that the production transfers are now being made permanent.

Cohen said the increased paper production in Jay and Bucksport will not result in more jobs.


Lobster festival closes with crate race, eating contest

Maine’s largest festival celebrating the state’s signature seafood came to a close Sunday evening.

The Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland offered free admission and a full day of events Sunday, including its lobster crate race, where competitors run across lobster crates floating in the water. Also on tap were a children’s codfish carry contest and a lobster-eating competition.

The festival, now in its 65th year, annually draws about 100,000 visitors who put away more than 20,000 pounds of lobster.


Rider injured, hospitalized after ATV rolls on top of him

Officials say a Maine man has been hospitalized with chest, abdomen and back injuries after an all-terrain vehicle accident in Phillips.

The Maine Warden Service said 57-year-old Dennis Hanson Sr. of Phillips was injured Saturday when he went over an embankment while backing up his ATV on a local ATV club trail and the ATV rolled on top of him.

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