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Residents Return to Burned Homes


Residents of Lake County, California, were allowed back to their neighborhoods for the first time on Friday to see the devastation wreaked by the massive Clayton Fire. 

While some were relieved to see their homes standing, residents Kevin Dean and his wife Katie were among those crying as they sifted through the ashes. 

“It’s all gone,” Dead said, as he and his wife tried to look for anything that survived the flames. 

About 189 homes were lost in the fire, which scorched about 4,000 acres. That number grew as of Friday, when the fire topped out at 75 percent containment. 

"My mother's pearls are in there," Katie Dean said. 

The Deans' neighbor, Wes Baker, also lost something precious to him in the fire. His cat, Tica, has yet to be found. 

"She's a Siamese, and she's really old and really sweet," he said. 

The Clayton Fire, which investigators believe was sparked by suspected serial arsonist Damin Anthony Pashilk, has left another scar on a county that was still recovering from last year’s fire season. 

Jessica Harrison said flames got within a stone’s throw from her house, but it wasn't burned down. 

“I wish I could do something to help them,” Harrison said of neighbors who were less fortunate than her. “I’m thankful. I’m beyond thankful that I still have a house, especially since the day it started, the flames were literally out in that field — maybe 50 to 100 yards out.” 

After realizing that fire crews had saved her home, Harrison also said, "We can't thank them enough. They're true heroes." 

Meanwhile, Lake County animal control officials were feeding and providing water to ducks, chickens and a cat that had been left behind. They were told about a pig as well, but couldn't locate it initially, so hoped its family had taken it when they fled. 

That was unlikely, though, seeing as area residents had five minutes to grab their belongings and rush to safety. 

So Bertelli and her partner Nehemiah White checked the paperwork and then went back in to look for the pig. They found it cuddling up to a kids’ pool that they’d just refilled with water. 

“We checked and he’s OK now,” Bertelli said. 

Animal control officials have been putting in long days while the Clayton Fire has ripped through Lake County, with many people working from 6 a.m. till 8 p.m. 

The most unusual animal rescue so far was an emu, according to Bertelli. 

“That was interesting,” she said, with a laugh. “We had the [American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] here to help us with that one. Thank goodness!”

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Swimming Area at Squantz Pond in New Fairfield Reopened


Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield has reopened for swimming, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection officials said Saturday.

The swim area was closed Wednesday after testing high for bacteria. DEEP said the bacteria growth was caused by storm water runoff from heavy rains.

Lake Waramaug State Park in Kent was also closed Wednesday and reopened Friday.

Water samples taken from Squantz Pond Friday showed that bacteria was back to safe levels and DEEP reopened the park for swimming Saturday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Campaigns to Report Finances; Trump Starts to Buy Ads


New data this weekend will show whether Donald Trump’s low-spending campaign has started to burn the cash it says it raised, according to CNBC, NBC News reports. 

The campaigns are expected to report their finance activity to the Federal Election Commission for July on Saturday.

Both campaigns announced initial fundraising numbers earlier this month. Clinton’s said it raised nearly $90 million — with about $63 million going to the campaign. Trump’s campaign reported raising in about $80 million, but it was unclear how much went to the campaign itself. 

Trump has relied on news coverage and social media to push his message, pushing back against traditional advertising — and he has only started to buy ad space in battlegrounds.

In June, Trump reported just over $1.6 million in expenses for "digital consulting/online advertising."         

Photo Credit: AP

Crowds Gather for Dragon Boat and Asian Festival in Hartford


The annual dragon boat races on the Connecticut River attracted quite a crowd to Hartford’s Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, Saturday. Eighteen hundred people paddled in the boats, while thousands more were on the shore cheering them on.

Each 500 meter race was over in a matter of minutes. Many companies sponsored teams for fun. Others were in it to win it. One paddler told us her favorite part of the race is getting into a rhythm with her teammates.

“When that happens, that click, that we’re all in unison and the boat is moving, my hairs go up, there’s just no way of describing that feeling, whether you win or lose if that boat and your team’s doing that it’s awesome,” said Marlene Sostre a member of the New York City Club, Women in Canoe.

The team had some competition from fellow New Yorkers, the Electric Dragons. They practice year-round and travel across the country for competitions. Their strategy to win was a simple one.

“We call it the kitchen sink, which is throw everything into it technique,” said Kevin Ng.

“It’s a very old sport. It’s the fastest growing on water sport in the country,” explained Mike Zaleski, President of Riverfront Recapture which has been organizing the festival since 2000.

“It’s a very social sport. It’s very friendly. Even though we have competition but it’s always everybody wishing each other the best and everybody’s cheering each other on and trying to better every year,” explained participant Jackson Koo.

In the “tent city”, each of the 80 plus teams had their own area where they could rest up and fuel up while they waited their turn. Each team raced three times throughout the day.

The festival also included live performances, music, and food stands.

“It’s wonderful…. to reflect the Asian tradition, community, cooperation,” said Tom Wang, Cheshire.

“By bringing the festival that’s part of it, it brings the community together and it helps expose the sport to the rest of the world,” added Koo.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Parasite Found in Arizona Swimming Pools


More than 100 people in Maricopa County, Arizona, have become infected with a parasite officials believe was in at least 20 pools in the community, NBC News reported. 

Cryptosporidium, or “Crypto,” causes problems from stomach cramps to vomiting to fever. Those with healthy immune systems don’t need treatment and usually recover after a week or two. 

The highly contagious parasite is hard to get rid of because chlorine doesn’t always kill it, according to the Mayo Clinic. 

Officials didn’t say which pools were identified. The parasite was first discovered in Maricopa County on Aug. 4 after 19 cases were reported in July.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Butt Spray, Chalk and Gelatin Improve Olympic Outcomes


Hair gelatin and butt spray and speed glue. Oh my.

From the bizarre to the edible, and everything in between, Olympic athletes are willing to employ any trick that will help perfect their performance.

After watching the Olympics competition in synchronized swimming, some spectators walked away wondering how they managed to keep their cap-free hair and makeup immaculate throughout the routine in the water.

"It's unflavored Jell-O — we mix it with water, and it turns into a gooey mixture," Team USA members told Vogue. "When it dries, it gets really hard and your hair doesn't fall out when you swim. We like to add glitter and other decorations to it — it's easy." 

And how are gymnasts able to defy ill-fated wedgies during tumbles and leaps?

"You're not allow to [pick a wedgie] or else you get deducted. So a lot of people use like sticky spray for your butt so your leotard doesn't move," 2008 Olympic individual all-around gold medalist Nastia Liukin told People.

While butt spray helps the female gymnasts, the U.S. men’s gymnastics team brings their own chalk to competition. 

The chalk provides the perfect grip for competing in the parallel bars and the horizontal bar, also known as the high bar. The chalk can be the tool that prevents slippage. 

“They (athletes) always rechalk the bar the way they want it. That’s why a lot of these athletes travel with their own chalk — just to stay in their own comfort zones,” said Jonathan Horton, an American who competed in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Horton served as a gymnastics analyst for NBC during the Rio Olympics. 

Team USA's Sam Mikulak noted to NBC Olympics after a trip to Rio earlier this year that the chalk in South America is magnesium carbonate, which he described as feeling more like baking powder than chalk. 

For swimmers, it's not so much bringing in a new piece of equipment, it's using two of what you've got that may improve performance.

Many swimmers compete with two caps reportedly to lessen the drag felt in the pool. With six medals in Rio, Michael Phelps was the most dominate swimmer to sport two caps in the pool. 

The reason why Phelps wore two caps? To make himself aerodynamic, according to NBC News

Glue and tape also have a place in Olympic competition. 

Some table tennis players apply speed glue between the wood of their paddle and the striking surface. It's a technique that aids extra elasticity. Volatire organic compound (VOC) based glues were banned after the Beijing Olympics because of concerns regarding that type of glue on the health of competitors.

American Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings has been seen sporting kinesio tape in action playing beach volleyball.

Olympic silver medalist Haley Anderson used kinesio tape at the 2012 Olympics in London. 

"Not only does it look cool, but it actually serves a purpose," Anderson said. 

Dr. Heather Linden of United States Olympic Committee Sports Medicine says kinesio tape helps with an athlete's posture and circulation, but also admits there is no science to back up those claims yet. 

Photo Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Syrian Boy Omran Daqneesh's Brother Dies


The brother of Omran Daqneesh — the boy who became an international symbol of the devastation in Aleppo — died from his wounds, NBC News reports. 

Ali Daqneesh died Saturday from injuries he sustained when his family’s apartment was hit in a blast from airstrikes on Wednesday. Ali was 10 years old, according to the Aleppo Media Center. 

The haunting photos of 5-year-old Omran were released by Syrian opposition activists earlier this week. The dust-caked, bloodied Omran sits in an orange chair in an ambulance, his legs too short to reach the floor. Omran appears shell-shocked and weary. 

A doctor who identified him in the photos said Omran was brought to the hospital with head wounds, but didn't suffer any brain injuries, and was later discharged.

Photo Credit: Aleppo Media Center via AP

Body Found on Hwy. Believed to Be of Missing Motorcyclist


A body found off a Montana highway Friday is believed to be that of a missing South Dakota father and husband, NBC News reported. 

Police believe the body is of Zackary Baldwin, whose motorcycle and wallet were also found nearby. Authorities believe Baldwin went off the road and crashed. A cause and manner of death have not yet been determined. 

Officials with the Williams County Sheriff's Office said construction workers discovered the body along Highway 2 near Bainville, Montana, several miles from the North Dakota border. 

Baldwin disappeared on June 26, 2016, after leaving for a late-afternoon motorcycle ride.

Photo Credit: Baldwin Family

I-95 South in East Lyme Reopens After Crash


Interstate 95 south in East Lyme has reopened after an accident, according to state police.

Police said the highway was closed between exits 73 and 72 Saturday afternoon because of a rollover crash. Details were not immediately available.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Olympic Artist In Residence Wows Rio Visitors


French artist JR wowed Rio visitors during the Olympics with his larger-than-life art installations throughout the city. JR is one of three artists in residence for the Rio Games, a first in Olympic history.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

6 in a Row! Look Back at Team USA's Gold Rush Since 1996


That's six gold medals in a row for the Americans, including the most recent win Saturday in Rio over Spain, 101-72. Here's a look back at Team USA's dominance on the hardwood the past two decades.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Man Stole Over $22K from Family Member: Police


Orange police have arrested a man accused of stealing thousands of dollars from a family member.

Noah Tarifi, 36, of East Slope Drive in Orange, was charged with criminal impersonation, identity theft, forgery, larceny, credit card theft and illegal use of a credit card.

Police said in late 2015 and early 2016 Tarifi allegedly stole over checks from a family member and cashed them himself. Over several incidents Tarifi allegedly stole over $9,000, police said.

Tarifi is also accused of stealing a credit card from the same family member and charging it for over $13,000 worth of merchandise, then selling the items for cash.

Tarifi was arrested on Aug. 12 and issued a $35,000 bond. He is next expected in Derby court on Sept. 12.

Photo Credit: Orange Police Department

At Least 3 Injured in Overnight Shooting in Hamden


Hamden police are investigating an overnight shooting on Dixwell Avenue.

Police said they responded around 1:30 a.m. Saturday to the Highwood Bar & Grill at 903 Dixwell Avenue. When they arrived they found one male and two female victims with gunshot wounds inside the bar. All the victims were shot in the legs.

The victims were transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital. The injuries did not appear to be life threatening, police said.

Police learned a third female victim was grazed by a bullet, but she left the bar before police arrived.

According to police, all of the victims were outside in front of the bar when they were shot by a male suspect. He is described as 5-foot-10, 210 pounds, wearing eye glasses, a red, white and black plaid shirt and a fisherman style hat.

The suspect was last seen fleeing toward Morse Street. Police believe he may have been in the area of the VFW on Morse Street or the Highwood Bar & Grill before the incident.

Anyone with information on this crime is asked to contact Det. Joseph Liguori at (203) 407-3190.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

An Interesting Nugget on Usain Bolt's Gold-Medal Meal


After devouring the competition in the final leg of the 4x100m relay final Friday night in Rio, Usain Bolt decided to devour some food.

His meal of choice: Chicken McNuggets.

An AP reporter snapped a pic of the fastest man in the world chowing down on some nuggets post-gold medal race.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Bolt would choose Ronald’s chunks of chicken to celebrate his ninth gold medal. Bolt, you see, is no nugget newbie.

In his memoir, Bolt described how he wasn’t a big fan of Chinese food at the Beijing Olympics, so he sought out McDonald’s, which just happened to have an endless supply of his favorite food.

And it’s a good thing the restaurant was well-stocked. Bolt estimated that he ate about 1,000 nuggets while in Beijing, which worked out to about 100 nuggets per day.

“At first I ate a box of 20 for lunch, then another for dinner,” he said in his memoir, “Faster Than Lightning.” 

"The next day I had two boxes for breakfast, one for lunch and then another couple in the evening,” he continued. "I even grabbed some fries and an apple pie to go with it."

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Modern Pentathlon Event Brings the Pain


The modern pentathlon is one of the most unusual Olympic events, and one of the most painful if you don't get a good horse.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

2 Injured in Ledyard Shooting


Connecticut State police are investigating a shooting that occurred in Ledyard Saturday.

Police said around 2:30 a.m. troopers responded to Backus Hospital in Norwich after two victims walked into the emergency room with gunshot wounds.

A 24-year-old woman was suffering gunshot wound to her hand and a 21-year-old man had a gunshot wound to his right shoulder. The injuries were not life threatening.

Police said the incident occurred during a large party in the basement of a home on Shewville Road in Ledyard, part of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. Witnesses told police a male flashed a semi-automatic weapon and fired. The round went through the female victim’s hand and into the male victim’s shoulder.

The suspect has not been identified.

Eastern District Major Crimes detectives are investigating. Anyone with information should contact police at (860) 848-6566.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

U.S. 5000m Silver Medalist Disqualified, Then Reinstated


A day after the U.S. 4x100m men’s relay team was disqualified in Rio due to a bad baton exchange, it looked like another runner would lose a medal due to an infraction.

Paul Chelimo finished second Saturday in the 5000m race, but Olympic officials disqualified him, only to reinstate his finish about an hour later.

Race officials initially said Chelimo had a lane infringement, i.e. he stepped over the out-of-bounds line. A replay showed that he did. But according to the IAAF, Chelimo was reinstated after the U.S. federation officially protested the DQ.

His time of 13:03.90 is a personal best.

When Chelimo was initially told about the disqualification by NBC during its live broadcast, it was thought that officials flagged him for impeding another runner when he cut to the outside. He disagreed.

“I was trying to get to the outside,” Chelimo told NBC. “I was trying to save myself from all of the pushing.”

Chelimo is Kenyan-born but joined Team USA through the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program, according to the Associated Press. He was a runner at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro before enlisting in the Army, earning U.S. citizenship and joining the athlete program. He’s currently a water treatment specialist for the Army.

Because of Chelimo's disqualification, fellow U.S. runner Bernard Lagat moved up in the standings and was on the verge of receiving a bronze medal until the ruling was overturned. Two other runners also were disqualified after the race won by Great Britain's Mo Farah.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Ryan Lochte to NBC's Matt Lauer: 'I Over-Exaggerated'


American swim star Ryan Lochte finally spoke out about the incident in Rio that landed him and his teammates in hot water this week, repeatedly telling NBC's Matt Lauer Saturday he "over-exaggerated" his initial account of a robbery in Rio and taking full responsibility for what happened to his teammates.

"I over-exaggerated that story and if I hadn't done that, we wouldn't be in this mess," Lochte said in the exclusive interview, a portion of which aired on NBC Saturday night.

At times emotional, Lochte offered an on-camera apology one day after apologizing on social media. The 12-time Olympic medalist said he's embarrassed over his "stupid" and "immature" mistake — embellishing a late-night encounter at a gas station to make him and his American teammates sound like victims of an armed robbery — and doesn't want to be remembered for it.

But in the 14 minutes of footage aired Saturday, Lochte did not admit to lying about the incident, as local police accused him of when they released damning surveillance footage. The remaining seven minutes of the interview will air on the "Today" Show Monday.

According to Rio de Janeiro police, Lochte and three other American swimmers vandalized a gas station bathroom after a night of partying last Sunday. The three were confronted by security guards, but initially told the media that the group was robbed at gunpoint, a story that capitalized on reports of spreading crime in the Olympic host city.

As police investigated discrepancies in the story, a judge ordered the passports of Lochte and a teammate be seized, though Lochte was already out of the country. The two other swimmers involved were pulled from a plane to the U.S. and held for questioning overnight before flying back.

Lochte now admits he left out or exaggerated details — like a gun being held to his head — in his initial accounts of the incident to NBC's Billy Bush and Matt Lauer. 

Lauer asked Lochte why he embellished.

"I don't know why. It was still hours after the incident happened, I was still intoxicated," Lochte said. "I was still under that influence, and I'm not making being intoxicated an excuse ... I shouldn't have said that."

The NBC interview comes a day after he posted an apology on his Instagram account about the incident.

In it, Lochte said he should have been “more careful and candid” when he claimed to be the victim of a robbery during the Rio Olympics. He said it was traumatic to have been out late with his friends in a foreign country — with a language barrier — and to have had a stranger point a gun at him and demand money to allow him to leave.

"Regardless of the behavior of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that am sorry," Lochte said on Instagram. 

Police said that fellow swimmer Gunnar Bentz told them Lochte pulled a framed metal advertisement that was hanging on a brick wall and became belligerent after the guards drew their weapons. 

Bentz, who was pulled off his plane with teammate Jack Conger, outlined his account to police in a statement issued Friday. The two returned to the United States Friday morning. 

"After Jack and I both tugged at him in an attempt to get him to sit back down, Ryan and the security guards had a heated verbal exchange, but no physical contact was made," Bentz said in his statement.  

Calling it an "unsettling, humbling and frightening experience," Conger reiterated Bentz's account in a statement he released Saturday, according to NBC News

"Four of us took a taxi back to the Olympic Village, and on the way we pulled into a gas station to use the restroom, but ultimately relieved ourselves outside, for which I apologize. Ryan Lochte removed a poster from a nearby wall, which apparently alerted the gas station employees, leading to our being confronted by two armed security men," he said.

In exchange for his passport, James Feigen paid almost $11,000 for falsely reporting a crime. Bentz and Conger both returned to the United States Friday morning after being pulled off their plane the day before. 

Lauer asked what Lochte felt about the police investigation's conclusion that the swimmers had vandalized the gas station they said they were robbed at. 

"Whether you call it a robbery, whether you call it extortion or just paying for the damages, we don't know. All we know is there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were demanded to give money," Lochte said.

But Lochte told Lauer that seeing his teammates stuck in Rio for something he did made him feel like he let his team down. 

"I don't want them to think that I left and left them dry, because they were my teammates, and I wanted to definitely be there," Lochte said.

The executive director of USA Swimming said this week that the organization does not condone the athletes' behavior and that it will look into the incident. 

The United States Olympic Committee called the incident a "distracting ordeal in the midst of what should rightly be a celebration of excellence."

"The behavior of these athletes is not acceptable, nor does it represent the values of Team USA or the conduct of the vast majority of its members," said the statement from USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. "We will further review the matter, and any potential consequences for the athletes, when we return to the United States."

Lochte, contrite for distracting viewers in the U.S. and around the world from the Rio Games, said he can make it right at the 2020 Olympics in Toyko, should he be selected to represent the nation. But that's up to the USOC and USA Swimming, he said. 

"I learned my lesson from this, I definitely did. I know these kind of shenanigans or whatever you call it will never happen again," he told Lauer.

He seemed particularly perturbed that little kids would think of him as the athlete who drunkenly vandalized a Brazilian gas station one night. 

"I don't want them to look at me (like) 'He was a drunk frat boy' or anything like that. I don't want that. I want to be a role model for those little kids. And I know that I can change that," he said.

Photo Credit: NBC
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Community Group Demands City Fire New Haven Police Chief


Residents in New Haven demanded the city fire its embattled police chief Dean Esserman at a meeting Saturday.

Esserman is on temporary sick leave. Prior to that he served a 15-day suspension in the form of a paid leave of absence at the request of Mayor Toni Harp.

Today a group gathered to speak out against the chief. They said they’re not happy with Esserman, nor with mayor Harp for what residents view as her apparent support of the chief.

In an interview with NBC Connecticut on Thursday, the mayor said Esserman could end his “temporary sick leave” if he meets certain conditions.

“It is really up to him when he returns," Harp said Thursday.

Harp also said she did not ask the chief to resign, and credited him for a drop in crime and making the community safer.

“Most of the things that I heard her say there’s a feeling of defensiveness and excuses for the chief,” said Sheeva Williams-Nelson of New Haven.

Several community groups and the police union have called for the police chief to step down.

Before the sick leave, Esserman had been placed on that 15-day working paid leave of absence for berating a waitress at a restaurant.

Two years ago he apologized for lashing out at Yale Bowl staff during a football game.

Then this summer – a vote of no confidence from the police union, citing public outbursts, low morale, and a hostile work environment.

“We are determined, said Barbara Fair of New Haven. “We’re not going to allow this man to stay in our community, bullying his officers, bullying anyone he comes in contact with.”

This community group said the fight continues, including a petition underway calling for the chief’s firing.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Elderly Woman Pulled From Bolton Lake


Emergency crews have responded to a possible drowning at Bolton Lake in Bolton.

An elderly woman was pulled from the water Saturday afternoon, according to Tolland County dispatchers.

First responders performed CPR on the woman before rushing her to the hospital.

Neighbors reported seeing the woman swimming in the lake about an hour before finding her in distress.

There is no word on her condidtion.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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