LYNN. Mass.

Hundreds flee as blast fills building with smoke

An explosion and fire in an electrical room sent smoke billowing through a bank office building Monday in Lynn, prompting the evacuation of nearly 500 workers.

There were no reports of injuries after the 10 a.m. explosion in the basement room at the five-story Eastern Bank building. Workers went to a gym at the community college across the street to stay warm.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.


Food sellers say college’s policies hurting business

Restaurants and caterers in Amherst are crying foul over University of Massachusetts policies that keep hungry students and visitors on campus.

When alumni returned to campus for homecoming last fall, the lure of free food gave them an incentive to stay on campus for meals. An on-campus service delivers chicken wings and pizza to dorm rooms at lower prices than nearby restaurants. And departments that want on-campus events catered are required to use food provided by the university’s auxiliary services.

Restaurant owners said the policies might put some of them out of business.


Governor ready to name fill-in for Sen. Kerry’s seat

Gov. Deval Patrick is preparing to announce as early as Wednesday who will temporarily fill U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s seat until a special election can be held June 25.

Patrick said he’s all but made up his mind on the interim senator. “I have one or two other questions to ask,” Patrick said when asked Monday about the special election. “We’ll be ready.”

Among those mentioned as possible interim senators are Michael Dukakis, the former governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee; Victoria Kennedy, widow of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy; and former Democratic congressman Barney Frank.


U.S. suspects state of violating disabilities act

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the state of Rhode Island for possible violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

WJAR-TV reported Monday that federal investigators visited the offices of three social services providers last week. Spokespeople for the groups confirmed the visits.

In a letter to one group, an attorney in the Justice Department’s Disability Rights Section says they’re investigating whether the state of Rhode Island violated Title II of the act. That says people with intellectual or developmental disabilities should be provided with jobs in the community and necessary transportation.