Fire lieutenant serendipitously drives by a restaurants igloo on fire and responds. At 11:19 a.m. on Friday, Westford Fire Lieutenant Donald R. Parsons was driving past the Fuse Restaurant when he saw one of its plastic igloos on fire. Parsons immediately leapt into action and used a fire extinguisher to quell the flame.
Due to the small fire at the Westford restaurant, fire officials have put out a warning for the public specifically when using extension cords.
Parsons determined that it started with Christmas lights that had been plugged into a series of two extension cords, including one with exposed wires that had been wrapped with duct tape. One extension cord ran under a door to the restaurant, where it was subject to friction from the opening and closing door.
“Extension cords can be convenient, but they should always be used safely,” said Westford Fire Chief Joseph Targ. “Check your extension cord before use and discard it if the insulation is cracked, worn, or damaged. Replacing the cord is much less expensive than replacing all the items that can burn in a fire.”
State Fire Marshal Ostroskey added that plugging one extension cord into another can overload and overheat it, creating a fire hazard.
“If you’re using an extension cord outdoors, be sure it’s listed by a qualified testing organization like UL and marked for outdoor use. And be sure to use a cord that’s rated for the wattage of whatever you’re powering. Appliances like space heaters should be plugged directly into a wall socket that can handle the current, not an extension cord,” Ostroskey said.
An electrical fire, or any type of fire, in or near a Christmas tree can grow to engulf a room in seconds, fire officials said. Use caution with lights, cords, and heating appliances, and be sure there are working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on all floors of the residence. Water your tree regularly to reduce the hazard further.
The U.S. Department of Commerce released a public service announcement over a decade ago accompanied by a video showing the incredible speed of a live Christmas tree fire.
In the video the fire spreads up the tree and gushes across the ceiling, setting the rest of the room ablaze. Smoke engulfs the frame from the top down until all is black.
Weeks before a Leicester man was indicted for murder, the Worcester District Attorney’s office received DNA evidence that excluded him as a suspect, according to Sarah Hamilton, an attorney representing another man who is now being investigated in the killing.
Dana Gaul was the man arrested and charged with murder in connection with a stabbing last year that killed 19-year-old Jehlon Rose in Worcester. Since then, Gaul has been released and authorities are eyeing a new individual in connection with the killing.
According to a statement from the office of Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr., the Worcester Police Department Detective Bureau investigated the stabbing for seven months and identified Gaul through surveillance footage, cell phone images and video and eyewitnesses.
The 43-year-old Leicester man was arrested and charged with murder on June 24.
But on Nov. 10, an individual and his attorney walked into the Worcester Police headquarters and provided authorities with evidence that would appear to clear Gaul. The man, who is Hispanic but investigators say bears a striking resemblance to Gaul, who is Black, was Jorge Luis Rivera-Baez of Worcester, court records said.
Gaul was then released on personal recognizance with a GPS bracelet and a condition that he report to probation.
Hamilton, who is representing Rivera-Baez, asked Judge William Ritter in Worcester District Court Wednesday for another week to craft a response to new information the commonwealth has provided on exculpatory evidence regarding Gaul. The new information included a police report, two photos and a DNA report.
Attorney William J. O’Neil, who is representing Gaul, requested the court deny the motion arguing that Gaul provided DNA that excluded him but nonetheless he was arrested and charged in late June of this year, was held without bail until Nov. 30, still faces the indictment and is on a GPS bracelet.
Hamilton argued that Gaul’s circumstances are not somehow only affected by her motion and referenced a DNA report that came back on June 9 or 10 and excluded Gaul as the individual responsible for Rose’s killing.
Gaul was secretly indicted by a Worcester County Grand Jury in late June, more than two weeks after a DNA report excluded him from the possibility of being Rose’s killer.
Ritter approved Hamilton’s motion and postponed the hearing until Tuesday, Dec. 28. On that date, the judge will approve or deny the commonwealth’s motion for Rivera-Baez to provide a buccal swab DNA sample.
In the meantime, Hamilton said she will meet with a DNA expert to help understand the contents of the DNA report the commonwealth provided.
Last week, the commonwealth argued that there is probable cause Gaul did not kill Rose, adding that there are multiple samples with unknown mixture to them, including saliva from a jacket and blood from shoes and fingernails of the victim that require more investigation.
On Wednesday, Hamilton said the prosecutors had initially made it seem that the DNA was just taken from the victim, and stated, “What the documents also show, there were several samples and I don’t think it’s quite as simple as the initial suggestion and certainly as someone who doesn’t have the technical training in DNA, need an expert to consult.”
That expert consultation, she said, will also show how the evidence would aid in the commonwealth’s investigation.
“I didn’t think a DNA expert would delay the case,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton also put forth a motion for the commonwealth to provide grand jury minutes regarding Gaul. The attorney referenced a MassLive article published on Dec. 20 and argued that the public is now aware of an open investigation into Rivera-Baez and they shouldn’t be denied more information that was provided to the grand jury regarding Gaul.
The commonwealth objected to the release of the grand jury minutes and Ritter denied the motion.
Court records show Rivera-Baez has faced a slew of assault charges dating back to 1999. Just this year he was arrested four times in the past five months.
Most recently, Rivera-Baez was arrested and in police custody in an unrelated case on Dec. on 7. He was released on personal recognizance, court documents show.
In an interview, Jehlon Rose’s father, Tehron Rose, told MassLive he’ll accept the outcome, either way, no matter who is sentenced.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which supports the families of hundreds of service members and first responders who have died in the line of duty, on Tuesday visited the home of former Massachusetts State Police Trooper Thomas Clardy, killed by a driver in 2016, to pay the mortgage of his surviving wife and children.
Clardy died on March 16, 2016 at the age of 44 when his police cruiser was struck by another driver as he conducted a traffic stop on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Charlton. The driver, David Njuguna, of Webster, was accused of driving high on marijuana at the time. He was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after prosecutors were unable to prove that THC found in his blood was indicative of an impaired ability to drive.