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Ellington Passes No-Smoking Ordinance


Ellington residents came together at a town meeting last night to approve an ordinance that will ban smoking in public areas in town.

The ordinance mandates:

"No person shall use, carry or smoke a lighted cigarette, cigar, cigarillo, pope or use cannabis-type substance including marijuana... in any form in or upon any building, park, playground, recreation area, athletic facility, trail, beach or area of assembly owned, leased or controlled by the Town of Ellington... provided however, that signs with letters at least four (4) inches in height are posted in the area such as to reasonably warn persons that the area is subject to this No Smoking Ordinance."

Ellington has a population of nearly 16,000, per the town website.

According to the meeting minutes, only 14 residents came out to vote.

The motion was passed 10 to four and the ordinance is set to take effect Aug. 30.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Four New Haven Mayoral Candidates Still in the Race


After a week of petitioning, four candidates for New Haven mayor collected the required 2,406 signatures to stay in the race and make it onto the Sept. 10 ballot.

Henry Fernandez, Hillhouse High School principal Kermit Carolina, city alderman Justin Elicker and State Sen. Toni Harp, the Democratic party nominee, are all still in the running.

Harp was endorsed by the Democratic party on July 23. In theory, the endorsement should have exempted her from the petition, but one day later, the party missed a key deadline, failing to submit the results in time.

Harp was required to petition alongside her three opponents.

As it turns out, she had nothing to worry about.

“I think it bodes well for us in the overall election,” said Harp, “and we’re going to keep knocking on doors and making our case to the people of New Haven.”

All four candidates received the necessary signatures, with Elicker collecting around 4,700, Harp collecting 5,500, Carolina collecting 4,000 and Fernandez collecting more than 6,000.

“Sometimes you have to sit down and enjoy the little victories,” Carolina said, “and this is a little victory in the sense that we were able to collect the signatures we needed.”

The candidates will face off at the polls next month.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Woman Says She Was Harassed on Flight for Breastfeeding


Breastfeeding advocates are rallying around a Laurel, Md. mom who said she was harassed on an American Airlines flight last month because she refused to cover her son while breastfeeding him.

A group of mothers held a "nurse-in" at BWI Marshall Airport Wednesday morning in support of the woman, an Anne Arundel County public school teacher who has asked to remain anonymous in order to avoid harsh reactions from her students' parents.

But a friend of hers posted the woman’s story on her Facebook page Sunday, along with a letter from American Airlines in response to the woman's formal complaint to the company after the incident.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the letter has been shared on Facebook more than 7,500 times.

"I feel sorry for all the nursing mothers and babies who have experienced this kind of shaming and discrimination," the woman wrote. "I worry that some other moms may have stopped nursing their babies just to appease another adult who has no business making them feel ashamed of nourishing their babies."

According to Hanna Butta's post, the incident occurred July 21. The woman and her husband were flying home with their five-month-old child.

After lift-off, the woman began nursing her son in order to keep his ears from hurting and stop him from crying during the flight.

"[A flight attendant] shook her head at me and gave me a very unpleasant look, like I was doing something very obscene," the woman told News4 Washington.

The flight attendant came back and asked the woman to put a blanket over her son because there were children on the flight, the post read. The woman’s husband said they preferred not using a blanket and the woman continued to nurse her son.

A few minutes later, the flight attendant returned again and told a young girl in the aisle seat next to the woman and her husband that she was going to move her back because she could have been feeling uncomfortable, according to the post.

The woman stressed in the post that it appeared the young girl didn't even notice the nursing. The flight attendant allegedly avoided her and her husband for the rest of the flight and never offered them drinks.

The woman filed a complaint on the American Airlines website, describing the flight attendant’s behavior as "inappropriate" and "harassment-style."

In its letter, American Airlines apologized but said they ask that anyone breastfeeding on an American Airlines flight to show "certain discretion and a sense of modesty."

"I think an appropriate response from American Airlines to my written concern would have been a sincere apology and a promise to address that employee’s behavior," she said. "Instead, I received a letter claiming to be an apology but was more like a justification for the flight attendant’s unprofessional actions."

In a statement to NBC Washington, American Airlines spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said,
"To clear up a misunderstanding, American Airlines has always allowed mothers to breastfeed during flight. The approach our flight attendants take is to ensure breastfeeding mothers have the privacy they wish to have, while also ensuring the comfort of our other passengers.

"We apologize to the breastfeeding mother who was offered a blanket during a recent flight by a well-intentioned flight attendant. The intent was to make everyone onboard comfortable, including the unrelated 12-year-old sitting in the same row."

Huguely also acknowledged that the company's letter should have used language closer to that in flight attendant manuals, which state that the "breastfeeding of infants is permitted during all phases of flight" and "F/A’s should not place restrictions or requirements on the mother of the infant."

American Airlines representatives also sent the woman a travel voucher.

Teen Admits to Choking Autumn Pasquale, Takes Plea Deal


Justin Robinson admitted in court Wednesday that he murdered 12-year-old Autumn Pasquale inside his family's home in Clayton, N.J.

Robinson was 15 years old when he was arrested for her murder along with his older brother Dante, who was 17 at the time.

Police say Autumn was riding her bike on her way to a friend's house on Oct. 20, 2012, when the Robinson brothers allegedly lured the girl into their home with the promise of trading bike parts.

Two days after her disappearance, the girl's body was found stuffed into a recycling bin a few blocks away from her home.

In court Wednesday, the now 16-year-old Justin Robinson pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter and took sole responsibility for her murder.

Camden County Prosecutor Warren W. Faulk said about 25 members of Autumn's family were in Superior Court today, as Justin admitted to choking Autumn in the basement of his family's home.

Prosecutors say Robinson's mother and stepfather were not home at the time.

"Autumn's death was senseless and it shook the community to its core. There will never be punishment commensurate with her brutal killing," said Faulk.

The 16-year-old entered his plea today as an adult. "In our opinion, the nature of the crime demanded that Justin Robinson be sentenced as a adult and face adult penalties," said Faulk.

Robinson's plea carries a 17-year sentence, Faulk said, and requires that he serves at least 85 percent of that time before he's eligible for parole.

The case against his brother, Dante, is still pending in Juvenile Court. Faulk couldn't comment on that case.

Photo Credit: Facebook/Autumn Pasquale

Wildfire Destroys Homes, Burns 6,000 Acres Near Banning


A raging wildfire on Wednesday destroyed several structures, including homes, injured two firefighters and a civilian, forced residents to evacuate and charred a wide swath of land between Banning and Idyllwild, Calif.

Dubbed the "Silver Fire," the blaze began about 2 p.m. and grew to at least 6,000 acres before 10 p.m., prompting Cal Fire officials to expand mandatory evacuations in rural areas of Riverside County. 

At least 15 homes have been destroyed and some 1,500 people were under evacuation orders, officials said.

The condition of the three people injured in the blaze was not known late Wednesday. However, officials said the civilian suffered extreme injuries.

"The civilian -- very, very tragically -- was very badly burned," said Cal Fire Riverside Chief John R. Hawkins. The civilian suffered full-thickness burns "from head to toe" and was at a hospital burn center, he said.

Adding to firefighters' worries is the fact that the blaze is in the same treacherous area as the 2006 Esperanza Fire, a wildfire that killed five U.S. Forest Service firefighters.

Aerial video showed multiple structures burning, including homes with vehicles still in the carport and driveway, pictured below.  Some residents rushed out, leaving animals behind.

Photos: Silver Fire Scorches Homes | Send Your Photos to isee@NBCLA.com

The blaze was first reported in the area of Poppet Flats Road and Highway 243 (map), which was closed to traffic between Banning and Azalea Trail, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

The mountain communities of Poppet Flats, Twin Pines and Silent Valley were under mandatory evacuation order due the blaze, which the department said was "burning at a critical rate." Evacuations were also ordered in the Vista Grande and Mt. Edna communities, according to Cal Fire.

Just after midnight Thursday, new evacuations were ordered for portions of Cabazon including Peach, Plum and Eucalyptus streets, and Riza, Ida, and Helen avenues.

"The biggest challenge for us is the people who are in their homes, and when we try to evacuate them, them moving on the same streets as the fire engines," Cal Fire Capt. Lucas Spelman said.

An evacuation center had been set up at Hemet High School 41701 East Stetson Ave. in Hemet.

Air quality warnings have been issued for a large portion of Riverside County. In addition to the Silver Fire, the 1,400-acre Falls Fire continued to burn Wednesday about 5 miles west of Lake Elsinore.

Residents in the following areas are being told to avoid unnecessary outdoor activities: Lake Elsinore, Perris Valley, Hemet/San Jacinto Valley, Banning Pass, Coachella Valley and Temecula Valley.

Anywhere that residents can see or smell smoke from the wildfires is also included in the warning, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

An NBC4 viewer in Palm Springs -- 25 miles away from the Silver Fire -- said remnants of the fire were present in the resort town.

"The smoke is so thick here in Palm springs, the ashes are coming down like snow, and the air quality is really bad!!" Michelle Renee Robinson-Scruggs wrote on NBC4's Facebook page.

The Silver Fire broke out in an area about 20 miles north-northwest of the origin of the Mountain Fire, which burned 43 square miles last month. In that blaze, which prompted the evacuation of thousands of area residents, fire officials had warned of extremely flammable fuels due in part to a dry winter.

The Silver Fire had scorched more than 300 acres within its first hour, according to the fire department’s online incident report.

Four air tankers, five helicopters, 450 firefighters and 71 engine companies have been assigned to the firefight so far.

Temperatures in the area were in the high 80s Wednesday afternoon with wind gusts up to 17 mph, according to the National Weather Service. Humidity was about 17 percent.

On the other side of the San Jacinto Mountains, on the edge of Palm Springs, a fire broke out Tuesday and grew to 60 acres in the extremely steep, rocky terrain near the base of the popular Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The tram had reopened by Wednesday.

Refresh this page for updates.

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Photo Credit: NewsChopper 4

Bodega Owner Arrested For Operating Drug Factory


Authorities busted a prescription drug factory that was operating out of a neighborhood market.

Hartford police said they executed a search warrant on the Los Cubanitos Market at 206 Park Street around 11 a.m., Wednesday.

During the search of the store, authorities seized a large quantity of  illegal prescription drugs including Oxycodone, Suboxone, and Viagra.

The owner of the bodega, 46- year-old Henry Depena, is facing several charges including possession of narcotics with intent to sell and operating a drug factory. He is being held on a $200,000 bond.

According to police, this is the fourth time in five years police have conducted a drug search at the bodega.

Officers have been dispatched to the market over 150 times in the past five years.






Vigil Held for Teen Shot Outside Hartford Nightclub


Hundreds gathered for a vigil Wednesday night to remember a teen who was murdered outside a Downtown Hartford nightclub.

19-year-old Brian Simpe of Manchester was shot in the chest outside the Up or On the Rocks club around 2 a.m., Sunday.

Police said the shooting took place when a big fight broke out over a girl.

“He went out and I knew he was supposed to come home,” said Gloria Gyebi. Her 19 year old son, never did come home on Sunday.  “I thought it was just a dream.  I thought I was just dreaming until when I woke up Monday I knew it was true…my son was gone,” she added.

Brian's family and friends gathered for a vigil, just feet away from where the teen lost his life.

“He loved people he had a passion for people. He would give you the last dollar in his pocket just so that he could help you,” said his brother Kevin Yeboah. 

Friends of Brian told NBC Connecticut he was trying to break up that fight when someone shot him.  “No he never deserved this,” Yeboah explained.

Now, his loved ones are demanding justice. Hartford Police still don’t know who pulled the trigger.

“I want the person who did this to just come out and turn himself in, because he knew he was wrong my son never did anything to him,” Gloria Gyebi said. 

If you have any information on the crime, you are asked to contact the Hartford Police Department at 860-527-6300.

Family Turns Boat Sinking into Life Saving Idea


A shoreline family is looking to turn their scare on the water into a life saving idea.
This the idea of 14 year old Jamison Wenc of Waterford.  Life jackets saved his family when their boat sank on Long Island Sound.

A week later Wenc felt compelled to do something after a 6-year-old New London boy who fell into the water wasn’t as fortunate.

“Needless to say I was shocked. I thought about my little brother,” said Wenc.  He could only think what if it was his brother who was in Anthony Bernoudy’s place on July 4th. Bernoudy drowned at Green Harbor Beach in New London.

“I'm not glad that Anthony had to pass but I'm glad I have people in my life to help me bring this to actually the beaches to save people,” Wenc added.

New London Parks and Recreation unanimously approved Jamison’s idea to put life jackets at the beach Wednesday night. “It does  show that there is a humanistic aspect to many people in our community,” said Tommie Major, New London’s Director of Recreation.

“I know he's a sensitive kid but he always really goes above and beyond for everybody,” said Jennifer Antonino, Wenc’s mother.

She knows she is lucky her four kids are safe now after their experience more than a month ago.  The family was boating off the coast of Seaside Beach in Waterford. They had life jackets and were able to flag down another boat that helped them to safety.

“If every boater donated one life jacket and you look at how many boats there are, that's a lot of life jackets,” said Antonino who helped her son organize it with the Parks Department. “More than for Green Harbor Beach and Anthony's name.”

The rest was Jamison’s initiative to aid his neighboring community.  “What better way just to help out and actually make a difference,” said Wenc.

Anthony Bernoudy’s grandmother says they’re still in shock over his death but are grateful for the program in his memory that could save lives.

Asiana Passenger Speaks Out on Lawsuit


They survived the crash of Asiana Flight 214 at SFO, but for some recovering from the injuries they suffered in the crash has become a long painful process.

One survivor, who is not able to return home to recover, is taking legal action against the airlines.

Henry Xie, 60, walked out of the wreckage, but says he can't escape pain from a back injury and nightmares about the crash. 

He says he wonders if his life will ever be the same. “I was seated with seatbelt, but maybe not tight enough because the impact was very strong,” Xie said.

Xie says he remembers slamming to the tarmac when Asiana Flight 214 crashed, but he's not sure how he ended up with a cracked jaw, a strained neck and shattered vertebrae in his spine.

Xie has spent a restless and painful month recovering in a South San Francisco hotel. He says sleeping has become a problem due to the pain – and the nightmares. 

He says he can't return home to Shanghai, China and his job as a university professor until his back heals because right now he can’t sit through the 11 hour flight.

“The bone is broken. For my age I don't know there will be.. can I heal or not. I don't know,” Xie said.

Xie and his wife filed a lawsuit against Asiana Airlines in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco accusing Asiana of gross negligence. The couple is seeking at least $5 million.

Xie is able to file suit in the U.S. because his son bought his ticket in the states. His attorney says hundreds of other foreign nationals on board are only able to file suit in Korea or China.

Xie's lawyer Mike Verna said he wants to expose the truth about why Asiana Flight 214 crashed and he wants Xie to be compensated for his pain and suffering.

Xie said what he really wants is his life back. “For me if I can get health, I don't want $5 million at all. I just want health,” Xie said.

Xie says his doctor at Stanford told him he may not be able to return home to Shanghai China until October.
NBC Bay Area contacted attorneys who represent the airlines tonight for reaction to the lawsuit and have not yet heard back.

Veteran's Group Claims Filner Sexually Harassed Rape Victims


A women’s veterans group has claimed San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has sexually harassed victims of rape and is launching a “Please Resign” campaign.

Special Section: Mayor Under Fire

President of the National Women Veteran's Association of America (NWVAA) Tara Jones, whose organization reaches out to veteran women who have been sexually assaulted, said in a press conference Wednesday that members of her group have experienced inappropriate behavior from Filner at one of their own events.

Shortly after multiple accusations surfaced claiming Filner had sexually harassed women, the group rescinded an offer for the mayor to speak at a benefit for sexual assault victims.

The mayor is currently participating in two-week intensive behavioral treatment at an undisclosed location.

Jones, wearing a bright blue shirt that said “Please Resign,” called Filner “a wolf in sheep's clothing." She claimed the mayor re-victimizes women who have already been traumatized, and her organization is ashamed.

Jones did not detail what allegedly happened between the women and Filner. She said she personally was not harassed by him, but his actions toward other women is astounding.

“Save yourself honor and resign," Jones said.

Jackie Robinson Statue Vandalized With Racial Slur


A statue of Jackie Robinson outside Brooklyn's minor league baseball stadium in Coney Island was vandalized with a racial slur and a swastika, police said.

The NYPD hate crimes task force is investigating after the vandalism was discovered on the statue outside the Brooklyn Cyclones stadium Wednesday.

Police say someone wrote in black marker "die n-----" and had a swastika and the word "Hitler."

It also said "F--- Jackie Robinson."

The monument, dedicated in 2005, shows former Brooklyn Dodger Pee Wee Reese with his arm around Robinson, depicting their historic friendship.

It was a symbol of courage and conviction of which even 10-year-old Lou Orlando of Fort Greene understood the significance.

"The heroic meoments of Jackie Robinson, and Pee Wee put his arm around him when the crowd was booing him," said Orlando. 

"It's really mean to vandalize that," he said. "It not only affects Jackie Robinson but affects people who like him. It's like an insult."

Other fans leaving the Brooklyn Cyclones game Wednesday were equally upset to see the statue defaced. 

"It's disgusting," said Julie Toro of Staten Island. "How far have we really come if people are going to do things like this?"

Michael Klebanow said, "The bottom line is that you can't have that, especially nowadays. I'm just kind of speechless." 

When Patrick Jabour heard what happened, he was prepared to grab his graffiti cleaners, anxious to get rid of the ugly words and symbols. 

"A lot of people went through hell and back, especially Jackie Robinson," he said. "That's why it bothered me."

The Parks Department did the cleaning instead, power washing the statue and working to restore it. 

Police are scanning more than three dozen cameras posted around the ball park, looking for possible suspects.

Sen. Charles Schumer said in a statement that "defacing the Jackie Robinson statue is a dagger in the heart to everything America stands for, and I hope those who are responsible are caught, punished and taught why what they did is so disgusting and offensive."

Teen Arrested in McDonald's Slide Sex Assault of Girl, 4


A 14-year-old boy has been arrested for allegedly hiding at the top of a covered slide in the play area at a New York City McDonald's and sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl, police said. 

Officials tell NBC 4 New York that a suspect believed to be the teenager went into the Queens McDonald's on Hillside Avenue at about 6 p.m. Tuesday and lurked in the play area for about two hours before the girl arrived with her mother.

At about 8 p.m., officials say the girl encountered the suspect lying on his back at the top of the slide and that he asked her "do you want to be my best friend?" He then sexually assaulted her.

When the girl got away and told her mother what had happened, the mother went after the suspect and grabbed him as he was trying to flee. He struggled away and left the restaurant, officials said.

The teenager was taken into custody late Wednesday and later charged with committing a criminal sexual act, police said.

Law enforcement officials say this week's assault was the second sexual assault on the slide since March. In that case, a suspect assaulted a 9-year-old girl and also asked her if she wanted to be his best friend. Officials say the attack wasn't reported until April, when the girl told her mother.

Customers and parents were horrified to learn of the attacks.

"I'm sure the mother is devastated and it's just crazy," said Brenda Segura, who also has a 4-year-old child.

McDonald's said it was cooperating with authorities and could not comment on the specifics of the case.

"This type of behavior is not tolerated at our restaurants," said Cortesia Norman, the franchise owner. "The safety of our customers is our top priority."

Amber Alert Expands for Missing Lakeside Children


An Amber Alert was extended to Oregon Wednesday as the search continued for two missing children from San Diego’s East County believed to be traveling with a 40-year-old suspect.

At the request of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, the Amber Alert for Lakeside residents Hannah Anderson, 16, and her little brother, Ethan Anderson, 8, has been extended to Oregon.

Hannah and Ethan were last seen on Saturday. Their mother, Christina Anderson, 44, was found dead inside a burned out home in the rural community of Boulevard, near the Mexico border.

Officials determined the mother was murdered, but have not yet released details of her death due to the ongoing investigation.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said a child’s remains were also found on the scorched property in the 2000 block of Ross Avenue.

The child’s identity has not been released, but on Wednesday investigators said the size of the child’s body is consistent with that of an 8-year-old.

“We still don’t have a positive ID,” said San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Glenn Giannantonio.

Officials are searching for suspect James “Jim” Lee DiMaggio (pictured above, right) in connection with the incident. He owned the home that burned to the ground, and had a “close platonic relationship” with Anderson, according to officials.

Investigators believe DiMaggio abducted Hannah and possibly Ethan. All three may be traveling together in a 2013 Nissan Versa with the license plate 6WCU986.

On Wednesday, officials from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said a vehicle resembling the 2013 Nissan Versa was believed to have been spotted in northern California along Highway 395/299 from Alturas northbound, possibly heading toward Oregon or Nevada.

At around 2 p.m., a possible sighting of the suspect vehicle was reported in southern Oregon near Lakeview. Law enforcement officers from multiple agencies across states are on the lookout for the car.

Meanwhile, in San Diego, friends of the missing Anderson children are holding out hope that they’re both still alive.

Outside the family’s apartment in Lakeside, candles burn for Hannah and Ethan.

Neighbors, including Lakeside resident Robyn Nolin, tell NBC 7 they’re shocked.

“How could this happen? What happened? How is this so close to home?” said Nolin.

Three close friends of the Anderson family gathered Wednesday at El Capitan High School, where Hannah is a popular student. The friends said Ethan is also a great kid, beloved by his older friends.

“I mean he had so much ahead of him. It’s crazy,” friend Alan McNabb said.

Hayley Wilcock, a close friend of Hannah’s, said the Anderson siblings really love one another.
"With my brother, we're always fighting, but I've just never seen that with them. They're just always so nice to each other,” said Wilcock, “It was just a really good relationship between them."

Family friend Hannah Darby said they all spent time at the Anderson home, and said Christina Anderson treated them like her own children.

"She was like a second mom to me. She did everything for Hannah and Ethan. And every time they had friends over she would always try to do everything for them as well,” Darby told NBC 7.

"She was just so funny. Always cracking jokes, always smiling; she was a really good mom. She was always nice to her kids. I mean no trouble -- they had the strongest connection I've ever seen," added Wilcock.

4 Killed, 4 Injured in Dallas-Area Shootings


At least four people are dead and four more are wounded in two separate but related shootings in Dallas and neighboring DeSoto late Wednesday night.

DeSoto police took the suspected shooter into custody without incident at the second shooting scene. Police say the suspect is male, but did not release further information identifying him.

Police said the suspect being held at DeSoto Jail pending charges and further details will be forthcoming after he is officially charged.

Warren Mitchell with the Dallas Police Department said officers responded to a shooting call in the 7100 block of Long Canyon Trail in Dallas around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. They arrived to find four gunshot victims, two of which were deceased. A third victim from that home was taken to Parkland Hospital and another to Methodist Hospital in Oak Cliff.

Mitchell said the suspect in that shooting then fled to DeSoto and was involved in a second shooting scene.

Cpl. Melissa Franks with the DeSoto Police Department said officers were sent to that second shooting scene around 10:45 p.m. Wednesday. Officers found another four people shot, two of which were deceased, at the  shooting scene in the 100 block of Galleria Drive in DeSoto.

No ages or sexes of the victims was released by either department.

Agents from the FBI and ATF were on scene in DeSoto to assist in the investigation, but police did not confirm a specific reason for those teams being on site.

Neighbors said they heard an explosion at the DeSoto scene, but police did not confirm that information.

Dallas and DeSoto police departments are working together on the case.

NBC 5 has crews gathering more information about this developing story. Information in this article may change as crews gather new details and confirm additional facts.

Photo Credit: NBC 5

Three Winners Split $448 Million Powerball Jackpot


Three lucky people now share one of the largest lotto jackpots in history. 

Three winning Powerball tickets were sold - two in New Jersey and one in Minnesota - for the $448 million Powerball jackpot. The winning numbers were drawn Wednesday night at 10:59 p.m. ET.

Just before the Wednesday night drawing, Powerball officials announced that the jackpot had increased from $425 million to $448 million - the fourth largest lotto jackpot ever. The winning tickets were sold at a Super Stop n Shop in South Brunswick, N.J., and the other sold at Acme Markets #7858 in Little Egg Harbor, N.J., lottery officials announced Thursday.

The winning numbers were 5, 25, 30, 58, 59 and Powerball 32. None of the winners have come forward yet. 

This jackpot started as a $40 million prize on June 26 and is the result of 12 draws without a jackpot winner.

The biggest jackpot in American history was $656 million, divided among three winners last year in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland, according to NBC News. That was a Mega Millions win, which is also played in 43 states.

The largest Powerball payout was in May, when an 84-year-old Florida widow named Gloria McKenzie hit the $590 million jackpot.

In November 2012, winners in Missouri and Arizona split a $587 million Powerball prize.

Powerball is played in 43 states plus Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Odds of winning the jackpot prize are one in 175,223,510, and overall odds of winning any prize are one in 32.

Earlier this year, the Powerball jackpot reached a record $600 million.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida

Victim Remains in Coma One Year After Fire


It's been one year since someone set fire to a multi-family home in Willimantic that left a woman in a coma, and there are still no arrests.

Firefighters pulled Kathy Hill from the Fire on Aug. 7, 2012.  She remains in a coma at a rehabilitation center in her native New Zealand.

"I'd just like to see a little bit of justice for Kathy," said Kathy Dubay, manager of the South Street property that burned a year ago.

Dubay is hoping someone will come forward with information about the crime.

Police said someone used accelerants to set the blaze, but so far they have not found the person responsible.

Hill's husband, David Marshall, barely escaped the flames.

Both Marshall and Hill worked as researchers at the University of Connecticut.

To mark the first anniversary, Dubay and others just posted hundreds of flyers around Willimantic to call attention to the crime.

Dubay also delivered lunch to the firefighters who saved Hill's life.

"This is just a small token of our appreciation," Dubay told them.

Dubay continues to speak out about the crime, hoping new leads will come in and the case will be solved.

"There's no need for a 33-year-old girl to celebrate her 34th birthday in a coma when they were innocent. Innocent," said Dubay.

Six firefighters were hurt that night.

Captain Ron Palmer, of the Willimantic Fire Department, helped pull Hill from the burning home.

"We were able to get her out. We gave her a chance," said Captain Palmer. "You do keep the faith that she improves health wise. You also keep hope that somebody will come forward and that there can be some type of information to help push this case forward."

In the year since the fire happened, the charred building has been torn down.  A new one is being built in its place with video surveillance and a sprinkler system.

For now, there are few answers about what happened that night or why.

"I feel somebody has to have some information as to who started the blaze," said Dubay.

A $2,500 reward continues to be offered for information leading to an arrest in the case.

State police and the state fire marshal are investigating.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

State Capitol Police Make Sex Assault Arrest


State Capitol Police Department have arrested a Bristol man accused of inappropriate contact with an individual on the State Capitol campus.

Hartford Superior Court issued an arrest warrant charging Daniel Esten, 66, of Bristol, with sexual assault in the fourth degree and breach of peace in the second degree.

State Capitol Police have not released much information, but said the charges stem from an investigation by the State Capitol Police into a complaint involving inappropriate contact.

Esten turned himself in on Wednesday. He was released on a written promise to appear and is due in court on Aug. 21.

Photo Credit: State Capitol Police

10 Departments Respond to Sterling Energy Plant Fire


Ten fire departments responded to the Exeter Energy plant in Sterling early this morning to battle a fire. 

Officials said the fire started around 4 a.m. at the waste tire-fueled power plant located in the Sterling Industrial Park. The fire is now out.

Employees were in the building when the fire broke out, but no injuries are reported.

The facility uses shredded tires as a primary source of energy.

In January, the facility was evacuated on a Friday morning after fire broke out in a hopper located in the boiler room.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

SoCal Wildfire Spreads to 14,000 Acres


A raging wildfire that spread rapidly in Southern California mountain foothill communities was scorching more rugged terrain Thursday, and the reported number of homes destroyed was expected to increase.

Five firefighters and one resident had been injured by the Silver Fire, which prompted evacuations in several communities as it raced through nearly 16 square miles between Banning and Idyllwild in less than 24 hours.

At least 26 homes and a commercial building had been destroyed, according to a Thursday night update from the Riverside County Fire Department. Two structures have been damaged by Silver Fire flames.

At a Thursday afternoon news conference, Cal Fire Riverside Chief John R. Hawkins said more than 500 structures had been threatened in the blaze, which moved rapidly and jumped a highway after erupting about 2 p.m. Wednesday about 90 miles east of Los Angeles.

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Two firefighters were being treated for heat exhaustion after facing flames on Wednesday, Hawkins said. He did not have details, but said two other firefighters were also injured.

The fire's size grew Thursday night to 14,000 acres, or about 22 square miles, according to an online update from the Riverside County Fire Department. Containment was at 20 percent.

During the afternoon news conference, Hawkins said the "dangerous fire" was still spreading, burning both up the mountain and toward Cabazon.

Steady winds forecasted for Thursday were a major concern for firefighters.

"Hopefully, as we progress through the day we'll be able to gain some ground," said Jeff LaRusso, of the Riverside County Fire Department.

An estimated 400 homes and more than 1,800 people were affected by the evacuation orders, which Hawkins said would remain in place.

Displaced residents were worried and wondering about the status of their homes, as smoke spread broadly across the area.

"It's stressful, you always wonder if your house is going to be there or not," said resident Mike Galusha.

Aerial video showed numerous homes being swallowed by flames, including homes with vehicles still in the carport and driveway, pictured below. Some residents rushed out, leaving animals behind. At least 15 structures were destroyed, but it was not clear how many were homes.

One resident was severely burned from "head to toe."

"The civilian -- very, very tragically -- was very badly burned," Hawkins said.

The resident suffered full-thickness burns over the entire body and was taken to a hospital burn center, he said.

Raw Video: Silver Fire Burns Overnight

At an afternoon news conference, Sen. Barbara Boxer emphasized the growth of wildfires this year in California, in part blaming climate change.

"Open your eyes, breathe the air and see what’s going on," she said, addressing climate-change deniers.

She said the smoke at her home in Riverside County’s Rancho Mirage was “so thick” that she thought there was a fire in community.

Boxer also warned that federal spending cuts would mean fewer firefighters, saying that sequester-induced spending reductions would be “disastrous.”

The fast-growing blaze is in the same treacherous area as the 2006 Esperanza Fire, a wildfire that killed five U.S. Forest Service firefighters, adding to the worries of those battling the flames.

Hawkins called the Silver Fire a "180-degree mirror image of Esparanza Fire."

Six air tankers,13 helicopters, 1,000 firefighters and 84 engine companies were aiding in the firefight as of Thursday morning.

The fire was first reported in the area of Poppet Flats Road and Highway 243 (map), which was closed to traffic between Banning and Azalea Trail, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

Evacuation orders remain in effect for Vista Grande, Mt. Edna, Poppet Flats, Twin Pines and Silent Valley. Evacuation centers were established at Hemet High School, 41701 East Stetson Ave. in Hemet and Beaumont High School, 39139 Cherry Valley Blvd., in Beaumont.

Just before 1 p.m., a warning evacuation notice was issued by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department for the lower Cabazon area from Elm east to Snow Creek.

By 4 p.m., mandatory evacuations were ordered for the community of Snow Creek. Residents are being told to use Highway 111 to the north to leave.

An animal evacuation center was established at the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus, 581 South Grand Ave. in San Jacinto.

Boulder Basin and Black Mountain Campgrounds on Black Mountain Road have been closed through August 15th.  

"The biggest challenge for us is the people who are in their homes, and when we try to evacuate them, them moving on the same streets as the fire engines," Cal Fire Capt. Lucas Spelman said.

Highway 243 south of Banning is closed.

In addition to the Silver Fire, the 1,400-acre Falls Fire continued to burn Wednesday about 5 miles west of Lake Elsinore.

Residents in the following areas were told to avoid unnecessary outdoor activities: Lake Elsinore, Perris Valley, Hemet/San Jacinto Valley, Banning Pass, Coachella Valley and Temecula Valley.

Anywhere that residents can see or smell smoke from the wildfires was also included in the warning, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

An NBC4 viewer in Palm Springs -- 25 miles away from the Silver Fire -- said remnants of the fire were present in the resort town.

"The smoke is so thick here in Palm springs, the ashes are coming down like snow, and the air quality is really bad!!" Michelle Renee Robinson-Scruggs wrote Wednesday on NBC4's Facebook page.

The Silver Fire broke out in an area about 20 miles north-northwest of the origin of the Mountain Fire, which burned 43 square miles last month. In that blaze, which prompted the evacuation of thousands of area residents, fire officials had warned of extremely flammable fuels due in part to a dry winter.

The Silver Fire had scorched more than 300 acres within its first hour, according to the fire department’s online incident report. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

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1 Million-Dollar Powerball Winner in CT


If you bought your Powerball ticket for last night's game in Connecticut, you are not one of the lucky winners to share $425 million. 

However, you could be a millionaire. One $1 million ticket was sold in the state. It was in New London County, according to lottery officials.

Two other people will also see their bank accounts grow because there were two $10,000 winners.

Grab your tickets and check. The winning numbers are: 5-25-30-58-59 Powerball: 32.

If you are the lucky winner, you must claim your prize within 180-days of the drawing date.  

As you might already know, Powerball is a multi-state lottery and the winning tickets were sold in New Jersey and Minnesota.

The next drawing will be on Saturday and the jackpot is $40 million.

The odds of winning the jackpot are pretty slim -- just 1 in 175.2 million, according to the Powerball Web site.

The largest Powerball jackpot to date is $590.5 million and the winning ticket was sold in Florida on May 18.

There have also been five Powerball jackpot winners in Connecticut since 2003.

For information about the CT Lottery, call (860) 713-2700, or visit ctlottery.org.

If you have a problem with gambling, you can call the 24-hour confidential problem gambling helpline at 1-888-789-7777.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Philadelphia
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