Dental office blaze causes $642,000 in damage

A fire in a dentist’s office and computer repair facility Tuesday night caused damage worth an estimated $642,000, city officials said.

The fire at 812 Stevens Ave. was reported via a smoke alarm shortly before midnight. Firefighters called in a second alarm after responding to the fire, said Nicole Clegg, Portland’s spokeswoman.

About 30 firefighters were needed to fight the fire, which apparently originated on the first floor, where the dentist’s office was.

Clegg said the damage to the building was estimated at $142,000 and the damage to the contents was estimated at $500,000.

No one was injured, she said, and the building’s smoke and fire alarms were all functioning.


Lewiston man sentenced for killing, burying woman

A Lewiston man is going to prison for 21 years for killing a 38-year-old woman and burying her body in the basement of the apartment building where he lived.

Rob Ryder, 21, was sentenced Wednesday in Androscoggin County Superior Court.

Ryder pleaded guilty to manslaughter in June in the death of Danita Brown of New Gloucester. Her decomposing body was found in the basement of Ryder’s apartment house in July 2011.

Police say Ryder told them that he killed Brown by hitting her over the head with a clock after he paid her to have sex.


Investigation continues into fatal propane blast at home

The Maine Fuel Board continues its investigation into a fatal home explosion caused by a leak in a propane line.

The blast on Feb. 12 leveled a two-unit apartment building in Bath and killed one of its residents, 64-year-old Dale Ann Fussell.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland said the state fire marshal has largely completed his investigation, but the Fuel Board continues looking into the explosion. He said the board’s final report could be several weeks away.

The board regulates propane and natural gas, oil and solid fuel burner technicians and related equipment.

McCausland said no charges have been filed in connection with the blast, but a final decision on charges won’t be made until the Fuel Board report is complete.


Sex offender charged with probation violations

A man who is on the state’s sex offender registry has been charged with violating conditions of probation by having prohibited contact with a minor.

Bath police say Jeffrey Pope, 32, of Chelsea was arrested Monday at a female friend’s apartment. Police told The Times Record that the friend has two children younger than 14.

Chief Michael Field said there is no evidence of a sex crime, but it was “clear from his probation conditions that he was not allowed to have contact” with anyone younger than 16.

The Maine Sex Offender Registry lists Pope with nine convictions for gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact and sexual abuse of a minor.

Pope is being held without bail in the Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset.


Retirement community buying school properties

Falmouth has finalized an agreement to sell parts of the former Plummer-Motz and Lunt School properties to an adjacent retirement community, said Town Manager Nathan Poore.

The deal culminates more than a year of discussion between the town and OceanView, which plans to develop the wooded land connected to the school sites into as many as 60 cottages for senior citizens. Some of the school buildings will be used as office space.

Of the $3.25 million that OceanView agreed to pay, $1.25 million will go toward acquiring conservation land to offset the loss of the natural area.

The buyer will develop part of the land into a public green. The deal keeps open the possibility that Falmouth’s town library could move into the former Plummer School, although the library’s board of directors has yet to weigh in.


Ex-Chelsea selectwoman’s extortion trial set for April

A federal judge has rejected a former Chelsea selectwoman’s bid to have evidence in her extortion case dismissed, and her trial is now scheduled to start in early April.

Carole Swan asked that statements she made to investigators be barred from her trial, but the judge on Monday upheld a magistrate judge’s ruling allowing the statements.

The judge also upheld a decision to have Swan tried separately from her husband on three extortion counts.

Swan, 54, has pleaded not guilty to 17 counts alleging she tried to extort money from a town contractor, committed tax fraud, defrauded a federal program and lied on forms to obtain federal workers’ compensation.

Swan was a selectwoman for 19 years.


Car, industrial batteries stolen at two local sites

Police are investigating the thefts of batteries out of vehicles and heavy equipment at two sites in town.

Chief Heidi Wilcox says batteries were taken from a tractor, a generator and another piece of equipment from the town’s wastewater treatment plant Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

She told the Sun Journal that batteries were also taken from two skidders at a logging site the same night.

It is unclear whether the thefts are connected, but she says there have been similar thefts recently in Farmington and Jay.

Anyone with information about the thefts, or who sees suspicious activity, is asked to contact police.


Watchic Lake house destroyed by kitchen fire

A lakeside camp that had been converted into a year-round home was destroyed Wednesday by a fire that started in the kitchen stove.

Standish Fire Chief Brent J. Libby said all three occupants at 47 Eleanor Ave. escaped without injury. They were housesitting for owner Thomas West.

Libby said the home was located on Watchic Lake about 500 feet from the nearest driveway. Firefighters had to stretch hoses by hand through a garage and down over a hill in order to reach the home.

Snow-covered, slippery roads delayed the fire department’s response to the fire, which was reported at 4:14 p.m.