December 28, 2009 in Nation/World

Nation in brief: ‘Suspicious’ fires leave two dead

From Wire Reports

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Authorities said nine fires that left two people dead in a western Massachusetts town are “suspicious,” and they’re treating them as potential crimes.

Federal, state and local fire and police investigators are trying to determine what caused the fires, which local District Attorney Elizabeth D. Scheibel said are suspicious.

Scheibel said the fires broke out in the downtown area of Northampton, Mass., between 2 a.m. and 3:15 a.m. Sunday. She said five fires were in buildings and the rest in cars.

The two victims were found on the first floor of a house that was engulfed in fire. Police have not identified them, but state property records list Paul Yeskie Jr. as the house’s owner.

Disabled tugboat towed into port

VALDEZ, Alaska – A crippled tugboat that spilled fuel into Alaska’s Prince William Sound after hitting the same reef that caused the Exxon Valdez oil disaster 20 years ago reached port early Sunday morning, a spokesman for the tug’s owner said.

The Pathfinder arrived under tow into Valdez, and crews will now work to determine how much diesel fuel spilled into the bay after the tug ran aground on Wednesday, Crowley Maritime Services spokesman Jim Butler said.

The Coast Guard said that two of the tug’s tanks – containing an estimated 33,500 gallons of diesel fuel – were damaged.

In Valdez, responders were checking the stability of the Pathfinder in preparation to begin removal of about 93,000 gallons of fuel from seven of the vessel’s eight undamaged tanks.

That work was expected to begin later Sunday.

After the grounding, diesel fuel sheens of one mile and three miles spread across the waters on two separate occasions. Officials said no animals were injured and the fuel didn’t reach land.

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