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Fishing Suspended After Massive Bridgeport Factory Blaze


Officials have some environmental concerns after a massive five-alarm fire at a Bridgeport, Connecticut, factory that forced hundreds of neighbors to evacuate Thursday night and they are asking people to avoid fishing in the area as a precaution until they can determine how safe the water is.

The fire started around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at 2102 Seaview Ave., a factory that houses the Rowayton Trading Company, which was storing around 1,000 50-gallon drums of products including recycled industrial perfume products; and L.A. Barnaby and Sons, officials said on Friday morning.

Red foam was in the water, so the Coast Guard flew a helicopter over at the harbor and the shoreline this morning and noticed "heavy product" in the Yellow Mill Channel as well as some at the head of the Pequonnock River, Commander Jonathan Theel, of the Coast Guard, said.

The Coast Guard will also be checking Pleasure Beach.

Fire Chief Brian Rooney said there were several "tremendous" explosions during the fire, which was so intense that United Illuminating had to cut power to around 1,400 homes in the area.

"The fire continued to rage throughout the evening and had tremendous explosions. It seemed every five minutes we were getting plumes coming into the air. Huge heatwaves were coming toward the firefighters who held their ground," Rooney said.

As crews battled the factory blaze, roofs of around nine neighboring houses were on fire, so firefighters had that to contend with as well. 

Deputy Fire Chief Dominick Carfi said it a miracle no one lost a home, he said.

Now, efforts are focuised on the environmental impact.

Officials from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said samples of the Yellow Mill River and the harbor show minute levels of material from the warehouse where the drums were stored.

Air quality tests indicate there is no immediate public health threat to the community, officials said, and the drinking water is safe.

Carfi mentioned that a private company provides the water supply and there is no well water in the area.

More samples and air quality tests will be done today.

One issued first responders faced was that Material Safety Data Sheets, which identify chemicals in the building, were not available. They were inside the burning building and the fire was raging too intensely to send crews in to get it.

Because of that, the Fairfield County hazmat team was called in and local officials reached out to the Coast Guard and EPA, because of concerns about the Yellow Mill River.

Bridgeport Public Safety spokesman Bill Kaempffer described the fire as a "major industrial blaze," which burned throughout the night. He said there were fireballs into the sky.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries, but no one was seriously hurt, officials said. One injured an ankle and the other was taken to the hospital to be treated for heat exhaustion. The Red Cross provided first responders with food and water.

Around 400 residents who live in the area were evacuated to St. Ambrose Church on Boston Avenue, according to Red Cross spokesman Paul Shipman. As of Friday morning, the Red Cross continued to help 13 people affected by the fire.

Authorities are investigating to determine the cause of the blaze, but have not been allowed inside because of building collapses.

Until tests come back showing that it will be safe to fish, no shellfishing is allowed from Fairfield to the Housatonic River and there will also be no fishing in the harbor.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Chief of Rivers Clinic Out


A leading gastroenterologist at the clinic where Joan Rivers stopped breathing during a minor throat procedure last month is out as medical director of the facility, NBC 4 New York has confirmed.

Yorkville Endoscopy said that Lawrence Cohen, a board-certified gastroenterologist and associate clinical professor of medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital, was "not currently performing any procedures ... nor is he currently serving as medical director."

The 81-year-old Rivers went into cardiac arrest during a procedure at the 93rd Street facility Aug. 28, officials have said. The legendary comedian was put on life support and died a week later. The city medical examiner's office said an initial review of Rivers' case proved inconclusive, and further tests would be needed to determine Rivers' "cause and manner of death."

A spokesperson for Yorkville Endoscopy would not say if Cohen was Rivers' doctor, nor would the spokesperson say if he was performing the endoscopy on the day she stopped breathing. It wasn't clear if Cohen resigned or was fired. 

According to his online biography, Cohen’s primary research focus is gastrointestinal endoscopy and he lectures throughout the world on subjects ranging from colonoscopy and colorectal cancer screening to endoscopic sedation. An e-mail to his Mt. Sinai address bounced back, and the hospital could not immediately confirm if he still worked there.

A voice recording at New York Gastroenterology Associates on East 79th Street, where Cohen also worked, said he was no longer part of the team. A cellphone number for Cohen wasn't immediately available.

Yorkville Endoscopy is accredited by the the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities. The association said it was investigating the facility's accreditation.

The state health department has also said it's investigating the clinic, and is examining documents and medical records, observing the facility, and interviewing staff members and doctors to make sure the center is complying with state health regulations.  

Follow Pei-Sze Cheng on Twitter @PeiSzeCheng4NY

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

Photo Credit: AP Images/NBC 4 New York

Brush Fire Scorches SoCal Forest


Mandatory evacuations were ordered Friday evening for a canyon area where a 1,600 acre brush fire was burning, Orange County Sheriff's officials said.

The fire broke out about 10:30 a.m. in the 30500 block of Silverado Canyon Road in a remote part of the Cleveland National Forest, about 20 miles east of Santa Ana, fire officials said.

The blaze was initially reported at about 15 acres, burning in Silverado Canyon near the Orange/Riverside County border, but grew to more than 1,000 acres by the afternoon, according to the U.S. Forest Service, which was leading the firefight.

No structures were immediately threatened.

"I didn't smell anything until the flames were outside when we looked," said Robert Walters who evacuated his home with his wife and dog, Jack. "I said, 'grab a bag, grab valuables and run.'"

Mary Feliz was worried about her daughter.

"I'm stuck out here," she said. "I can't get in there to get her, to bring her down. That's my biggest concern."

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued at 6 p.m. for residents living from 30500 Silverado Canyon Road east to the end of the canyon, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department. Some residents had already been voluntarily evacuating from the area.

The American Red Cross set up an evacuation center at El Modena High School, 3920 E. Spring St., in Orange.

A column of smoke could be seen from Irvine, Aliso Viejo, Lake Forest and other communities.

Fire crews said they were allowing the fire to burn to the canyon rim and would attack its flanks, said Capt. Larry Kurtz, of the Orange County Fire Authority.

"Fires that have happened in the past out here follow the same footprint," Kurtz said. "That helps us anticipate where the fire is going to be."

Water- and fire retardant-dropping aircraft  -- including helicopters and a heli-tanker -- responded to the location, deep in the forest's rugged canyons.

About 100 firefighting personnel were at the site, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.

A few houses are located in the area, but no structures were threatened.

The fire appeared to be burning away from homes, but shifts in wind direction could change the fire's path.

The fire began during a stretch of dry, hot days in Southern California.

Triple-digit heat and dry conditions are expected through the weekend, but strong winds -- a major factor in a fire's rate of spread -- were not reported Friday in the Silverado Canyon area.

"It's very hot, but fortunately there's no wind," Kurtz said.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory for portions of Orange and Riverside counties due to the blaze. The areas "directly" affected by the smoke, according to the agency, include Saddleback and Capistrano valleys of Orange County and the Corona, Norco and Lake Elsinore areas of Riverside County.

Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi said the agency sent four planes to the scene, including air tankers to drop retardant on the flames.

Tauhir Jones, U.S. Forest Service spokesman for the Cleveland National Forest, said the USFS had sent 10 engines, two water-dropping helicopters, one helitanker, one hand crew and two water tenders to the scene.

A pair of DC-10 retardant-dropping planes were also aiding in the firefighting effort.

A stretch of Silverado Canyon Road was closed in the area, but it reopened by mid-afternoon for residents as the flames moved deeper into the canyon.

The Orange County Emergency Operations Center established an information hotline at 714-628-7085.

No Trial Delay in Texas DAs' Deaths


The murder trial of the man charged with killing two Kaufman County district attorneys, along with the wife of one of them, will begin this month as planned, after a judge refused Friday to postpone it.

State District Judge Mike Snipes ruled that Eric Williams' defense has had enough time to prepare after Williams' lawyers filed a 14-page motion for continuance to review all of the evidence.

Jury selection is set to begin Sept. 22, and opening arguments will begin Dec. 1.

“The defense will have had nearly 20 months to prepare for this case, assuming the case begins on Dec. 1, which is significantly more than the other death penalty cases that I have presided over,” Snipes said.

Williams, a former Kaufman County justice of the peace, appeared in court Friday in a business suit, not his jail outfit.

Investigators say revenge was the motive for the January 2013 murder of Assistant Kaufman County District Attorney Mark Hasse and the March 2013 murders of District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia. They contend Williams was angry after his conviction on burglary and theft charges prosecuted by the DA and his assistant.

Williams' estranged wife, Kim, is also a co-defendant in the case. But she is to be tried separately with no date scheduled. She has confessed to helping her husband commit the murders, is listed as a witness against him and is widely believed to be helping prosecutors in many ways with their case.

Federal agents searched Williamses' former Kaufman County home again Thursday and left with several bags of what appeared to be new evidence.

Eric Williams' lawyer Matthew Seymour accused prosecutors of concealing a deal with Kim Williams for her cooperation.

“It seems disingenuous to me that some type of agreement has not been reached with Mrs. Williams for her substantial participation in this case as a witness or to provide additional evidence,” Seymour said. “There is something afoot with Mrs. Williams case and it’s not proceeding like this case is and we think we know why.”

Special prosecutor Bill Wirskye bristled at Seymour's suggestion.

“No one at this table is being disingenuous. I’ll tell everyone in the courtroom, there is no deal with Kim Williams. Very simple,” Wirskye said. “It’s the state’s purgative who we try first. We decided to try Mr. Williams first. We will deal with Mrs. Williams at the appropriate time and the appropriate way. There simply is no plea bargain or any other agreement.”

The first trial will be for the death of Cynthia McLelland. Eric Williams' lawyers Friday sought to exclude evidence pertaining to the Hasse murder and Williams' burglary and theft case, but Judge Snipes said those issues should be heard by the jury.

“I agree that the allegations at least do go to show an overarching plan of the defendant to seek revenge,” Snipes said.

Judge Snipes from Dallas has asked two other judges with death penalty trial experience to help him with jury selection when it begins this month to guard against errors.

The trial was moved to Rockwall from Kaufman County where the murders occurred.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Hartford Man Wanted on Assault Charges


Hartford police are searching for a 24-year-old man wanted in connection with a domestic assault and said he may be suicidal.

Police have obtained an arrest warrant charging James Eric Williams with second-degree strangulation, third-degree assault and second-degree threatening following a domestic incident that happened last September.

Williams has suicidal tendencies, according to police.

He’s described as a medium-complexioned black man with black hair and brown eyes. Police said he stands 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighs 140 pounds and has a tattoo reading “Lashell” on his right arm.

The felony charges are accompanied by a $100,000 bond.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to contact Hartford police at 860-757-6300.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

Slain Mtn. Lion Had Attacked Boy


The mountain lion killed in Cupertino this week was indeed the animal that attacked a 6-year-old boy, and the big cat did not have rabies, lab results released Friday showed.

California Department of Fish and Game Lt. Pat Foy said the testing was completed Wednesday at the agency's wildlife center in Sacramento, confirming the DNA of the mountain lion was one and the same. He was 74 pounds and about two years old, the results showed.

The UC Davis California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory said the rabies test came back negative, which means the boy can discontinue the rabies shots.

The mountain lion attacked the boy on Sunday about 1 p.m. along the Picchetti Ranch Zinfandel Trail, biting his neck and body. The boy was released from the hospital the following day.

On Friday, Amanda Kim, spokeswoman for the MidPeninsula Regional Open Space District, said the trail is still closed for "cleanup." Updates about the trail can be found here.

Trackers killed the lion on Wednesday near the same spot where the boy was injured.

An estimated 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions live in California.

Photo Credit: California Department of Fish and Game

Manchester Asks Residents to Conserve as Water Level Drops


Manchester residents are being asked to conserve water as levels drop because of the lack of rain.
Manchester’s reservoirs have dropped to 80 percent of their capacity because of the lack of rain, according to a message the town of Manchester sent to residents on Friday.

Residents are asked to take shorter showers; run dishwashers and washing machines only when they are full; shut off water while washing hands, shaving and brushing teeth; and water of lawns and gardens sparingly. 

Residents are also asked to avoid power washing, cut down on washing your car and refilling your swimming pool and replace leaky plumbing fixtures be repaired or replaced with low-flow devices.

The water department will be monitoring the reservoirs and lift the alert once the reservoir capacities return to normal. .

If the condition worsens, Manchester might need to implement a drought contingency plan, which could include mandatory use restrictions so there is enough water available for normal consumption and fire protection.

For more information, call 647-3115 or visit the town’s website http://www.townofmanchester.org/Water/WaterSupplyStatus.cfm.

UConn Bomb Threat Suspect on House Arrest


The 21-year-old Wethersfield resident who is facing state and federal charges in connection with a bomb threat at UConn has been placed on house arrest and is forbidden from using electronic devices, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Matthew Tollis was arrested on federal charges Wednesday and has been involved in at least six "swatting" incidents, including a bomb threat at UConn and other schools in New Jersey, Florida, Texas and Massachusetts, the U.S. Attorney's Office Says.

He appeared in court Friday and was released on $100,000 bond, co-signed by his mother, who has been appointed a third-party custodian.

He is required to remain on home confinement with electric monitoring, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Tollis is not allowed access to phones, computers, gaming devices or other electronics with Internet capabilities. Other devices in the house must remain password protected, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

He must undergo a mental health evaluation and counseling and is not allowed to have contact with other people involved in the incident, including the online community known as "Team Crucifix or Die," (TCOD), of which he was a part.

TCOD is comprised of X-Box gamers who use Skype to call in false bomb threats, hostage situations, gun scares and mass murders, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Tollis was arrested Sept. 3 on state charges in connection with the April 3 bomb threat at UConn, which sparked a “multiple hour, campus-wide lockdown” that drew UConn police, a state police bomb squad and SWAT teams to the scene, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Morning classes were canceled and a Tasker admissions official pulled the fire alarm to evacuate the building, according to court documents.

School officials said the caller claimed someone had planted explosives in the building the night before and wanted to “kill people.” Tollis is not a UConn student and said he believed the school was targeted because of the success of the men and women's basketball teams, which won NCAA championships.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says TCOD members have been found responsible for six additional swatting incidents in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Three of the suspects live in the United Kingdom and have made swatting calls from abroad.

The FBI is working with UK officials to identify those suspects.

Tollis is charged with conspiring to engage in a bomb threat hoax, aiding and abetting a bomb threat hoax and aiding and abetting the malicious conveying of false information regarding an attempt or alleged attempt to kill, injure or intimidate or to unlawfully damage or destroy a building or personal property by means of an explosive.

He could face a total of 15 years in prison if convicted on federal charges.

Fatal Manchester Fire Ruled Accidental, Cause Unknown


The cause of a two-alarm blaze that left one resident dead and displaced 60 others at a Manchester apartment complex Thursday will remain a mystery, although fire officials are calling it accidental.

Firefighters said flames broke out early Thursday morning in the bedroom of 26-year-old Thomas Lafontaine, who lived in a unit at 54 Chestnut Street in Manchester and died in the fire.

The cause is too uncertain to be officially determined. Fire Chief David Billings said anything from discarded cigarettes to faulty electrical cords could have sparked the blaze at the Centennial Apartments.

Firefighters tried to rescue Lafontaine but said furniture had been placed against the doors.

Lafontaine's friends said he'd gotten a new mattress and the old one was leaning on the door because the units are small and there was nowhere else to put it.

Firefighters were driven out of the building by exploding ammunition, and said six or seven guns had been secured in Lafontaine's apartment, along with several hundred rounds of ammunition and two inert hand grenades and a mortar shell.

Lafontaine's friends described him as a sweet, soft-spoken man who worked hard all week at a moving company in New Britain. He had guns because he enjoyed going to the shooting range on weekends, they said.

Many of the residents who were displaced returned to their homes by the end of the day, but firefighters said up to 16 units could remain uninhabitable for an extended period of time.

State's First 2014 Case of West Nile Virus Occurs in Bridgeport


This year’s first human case of West Nile virus has been reported in Bridgeport, and officials warn that insect-borne illnesses could still be a factor despite the change of season.

According to the state Department of Public Health, a Bridgeport resident in his or her 40s contracted the virus and developed symptoms the third week of August.

The patient suffered from a high fever, severe headache and blurred vision and was hospitalized for treatment of meningitis associated with West Nile virus, according to the DPH.

That person is now recovering.

As of Sept. 10, officials have detected the virus in 52 mosquito pools in 14 municipalities around the state, including nine WNV-positive pools in Bridgeport, one in Cornwall, two in Danbury, two in Darien, three in East Haven, one in Groton, two in Hartford, one in New Britain, two in New Haven, one in Norwalk, six in Stamford, 20 in Stratford, one in West Hartford and one in Wethersfield.

“The number of affected towns continues to increase,” said Medical Entomologist Dr. Philip Armstrong, of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. “While early- to mid-August is when the number of positive mosquito pools typically peaks, the peak this season appears to have been delayed with continued risk of transmission to people through September.”

Eastern Equine Encephalitis, another mosquito-borne virus, has not been detected in Connecticut this year.

Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen said “mosquitoes may remain active well into September and insect-borne illness remains a threat.”

Residents are urged to use insect repellant and cover bare skin when spending time outdoors, especially at dusk.

Four Connecticut residents contracted West Nile virus last year. All four have recovered, according to the DPH.

More information is available online through the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program.

Photo Credit: Foto: EFE

Officials Warn of Fake Luke Bryan Tickets


Thousands will flock to Hartford on Saturday as country megastar Luke Bryan takes the stage, and Hartford police are urging concert-goers to be on the lookout for ticket scams.

Just last month, police arrested two people in West Springfield for allegedly selling fake Luke Bryan tickets on an online ad site.

At least four residents fell victim to the scam, one of whom lost more than $600, according to police.

The vice president of Ticket Network, Jay Mullarkey, examined a copy of one of the fake tickets and said the clue was in the performance list: one of the names printed did not appear on a real ticket.

With such subtle signs, how can you snag a seat and stay safe?

According to Mullarkey, the first step is to always purchase tickets with a credit card, which will protect you much better than cash. Secondly, never buy from someone you don’t know.

“We always say you should buy wether from the box office or from a reputable seller,” said Mullarkey.

Hartford police Deputy Chief Brian Foley echoes this sentiment. Even though police will be on the lookout for faulty transactions, there are no guarantees.

“On scene, there’s not much an officer can do. He’s trying to maintain security at the concert; he’s not prepared to do a fraud investigation,” said Foley.

Other recommendations include looking for barcodes and correct spelling. The analysis may sound tedious, but it could save you big bucks and a big headache.

If you're afraid this cuts your chances of seeing the stars, there's still hope.

“Stay smart about it," Mullarkey said. "There are still lawn seats available and a chance to see the show.”

Texas Teacher Assaulted Boy: Cops


A North Texas music teacher has been arrested for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy he says he met on the gay dating app Grindr, police say. 

Roger Kessler, 43, who has taught music at RISD Academy in Richardson for 14 years, was arrested Thursday by McKinney police responding to a report of a suspected burglary in progress at the teen's home. When police arrived, they found the teen's mother holding Kessler.

Kessler told police that he and the boy met four times, had oral and anal sex and used protection every time except once. He said he has HIV but did not tell the boy, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by The Dallas Morning News.

Kessler said he knew the boy was 15 years old but didn't know his name, police said.

According to court documents, during a forensic interview the boy denied there was sexual contact.

Police notified the Richardson Independent School District of the arrest. Kessler has been placed on administrative leave.

"Kessler has been a music teacher in RISD for 14 years, all at RISD Academy, with no history of complaints of this nature," the district said in a statement. "RISD Academy parents were informed through a letter home Thursday."

Kessler was booked at the Collin County jail. His bail was set at $250,000.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

Photo Credit: McKinney Police Dept.

15-Year Sentence in Vet's Murder


An Orange man was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison Friday for the 2012 murder of his roommate, a Cal State Fullerton student and Army veteran.

Kwang Choi “KC” Joy, 55, was convicted July 29 of killing 36-year-old Maribel Ramos, whose body was found in Santiago Canyon two weeks after she disappeared.

Joy has maintained his innocence, and at the sentencing hearing did not admit to killing Ramos. He spoke to the court and said he had fond memories of Ramos.

He said he cared for her as much as anyone else and recalled going on walks with their dogs together.

Family members also delivered victim impact statements, and said how much Ramos was missed, and how they felt betrayed by Joy.

"He was in our lives. As a family, we befriended him," cousin Andrea Leonardo said. "He took her away from us. She had such a bright future ahead of her."

Prosecutors said Joy was in love with Ramos, and the two got into a fight after she asked him to move out of their apartment for failing to pay rent. They argued that during the altercation, he killed her.

The night of her disappearance, she was seen on surveillance video dropping off the rent check and was not seen again.

During his trial, prosecutors showed video of Joy walking into an Orange library branch the same day Ramos’ body was located.

There, his search history revealed he looked up “How long does it take a human body to decay?” as well as the site where Ramos’ body was eventually discovered on Google Earth.

During opening statements, Joy's attorney acknowledged that she had died and his client had "improperly disposed" of her body.

Police Responding to Oxford Crash


Authorities are responding to a crash on the 600 block of Oxford Road in Oxford, according to state police.

There has been no word on injuries.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates.

Man Shot in Head in Hartford's 10th Homicide of Year


A man was shot in the head and killed near the intersection of Hungerford and Park streets in Hartford, according to police.

Police said the 28-year-old victim was shot multiple times around 9:15 p.m. Friday in the area of 530 Park Street. He was pronounced dead at the scene in the city's 10th homicide of the year.

"It's kinda scary, especially on a Friday night," said Eduardo Lopez, who lives nearby. "Thank God there's no kids out here at this time"

Homicide detectives responded to the scene, along with the Hartford police Shooting Task Force and crime scene investigators.

Hartford police spokesman Deputy Chief Brian Foley said authorities found evidence at the scene and are working to track down a suspect.

Police are hopeful that surveillance video can shed light on the incident. Foley said the shooting does not appear to be a drive-by.

The victim has not been publicly identified.

Anyone with information on the shooting is urged to call Hartford police at 860-757-4089.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Shot in Arm in Bridgeport


Police in Bridgeport are investigating after a young man was shot in the upper arm Friday night.

The victim, who is in his early 20s, told police a masked man with a small stature shot him shortly after 9 p.m. Authorities suspect the shooting happened in the area of Park Avenue and Olive Street.

Police said the victim was taken to Saint Vincent's Medical Center for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Detectives are actively investigating.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Volunteers Build Playground for Kids With Special Needs


More than 400 volunteers will gather in Bridgeport next Thursday to help build a playground featuring equipment for special needs children.

But the equipment is not the only thing that makes this play area one of a kind. It's based on drawings children created at a design event in July.

Community members will meet at Shell Street and Ocean Terrace on Thursday, Sept. 18.

Ground breaking starts at 8:30 a.m. and the playground will be completed by the end of the day.

The playground will provide more than 300 local kids with a safe and fun place to play while promoting an active lifestyle, according to a news release from the Stop & Shop’s Our Family Foundation and KaBOOM!, a non-profit organization based in Bridgeport, which are spearheading the project.

Shaded seating, planters, and a garden will all be included in the design.

New Haven Man Shot During Robbery Attempt


Police are searching for the teen who shot a 46-year-old man during an apparent robbery in New Haven on Friday night and said he fled the scene with an accomplice.

Police said the incident happened shortly before 8 p.m. Friday in the area of 517 Norton Parkway. The victim was shot in the wrist and was taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

The shooter is described as a thin black teenager wearing black pants, a black hooded sweatshirt, a blue T-shirt, black half-ski mask and black hat with a red brim, according to police. He was armed with a black handgun.

His accomplice is also described as tall and thin. Police said he was wearing a red hooded sweatshirt with the drawstrings pulled tight to hide his face.

The suspects ran from the scene on Norton Street toward Crescent Street, according to police. It's not clear if anything was stolen.

Anyone with information about the shooting is urged to call New Haven police detectives at 203-946-6304. Calls may be kept confidential.

Woman Injured in Crash on I-84 East in Hartford


A 33-year-old woman was taken to the hospital after losing control of her car and crashing on Interstate 84 eastbound on Hartford late Friday morning, according to police.

Police said Tiffany Nolen, 33, of Middletown was driving in the area of exit 49 in Hartford when she lost control of her car and struck another vehicle. Nolen’s car spun out of control and veered left across all four lanes of traffic, hitting the median.

Nolen was rushed to Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford for treatment of “incapacitating injuries.” Police said the other driver, 69-year-old Peter Odium, of West Hartford, was not injured.

Several lanes were shut down after the crash and traffic was heavily delayed.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Factory Blaze Sparks Environmental Concerns


Bridgeport, Connecticut firefighters are still dealing with the aftermath of a five-alarm factory fire that spewed hazardous materials into the air and water and forced hundreds of residents from their homes Thursday night.

Officials are running environmental tests after a fire raged overnight at 2102 Seaview Avenue, a factory that houses JWC Roofing and Siding and the Rowayton Trading Company, which housed about 1,000 50-gallon drums of recycled industrial perfume products.

The fire was intense and Fire Chief Brian Rooney said there were several "tremendous" explosions. The perfumes ignited after the fire sparked Thursday evening and sent fireballs into the sky.

"It seemed every five minutes we were getting plumes coming into the air. Huge heatwaves were coming toward the firefighters who held their ground," Rooney said.

Assistant Fire Chief John Mazza said crews were still chasing down hot spots Friday evening, including two at the center of the blaze that have been inaccessible. Firefighters began to scale back their on-scene presence on Friday and crews were still concerned hotspots could flare up on Saturday.

“There are just areas of the structure, due to the structural integrity of the building’s collapse, we can’t get in there,” Mazza said. “The only way to get around these hot spots would be to pick the building apart with a machine and that’s not an option at this point in time.”

Environmental officials are worried that any chemical runoff from the factory fire could cause environmental problems. State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) officials said samples of the Yellow Mill River and the harbor show minute levels of material from the warehouse where the drums were stored. DEEP spent part of the evening Friday vacuuming up the runoff.

"There's a lot of hazardous materials," Mazza said. "Lot of dangers. Lot of explosions in this building, so it was quite hairy for a while here."

Air quality tests indicate there is no immediate public health threat to the community and the drinking water is safe, according to officials. Deputy Fire Chief Dominick Carfi said a private company provides the local water supply and there is no well water in the area.

As a precaution, fishing along the Bridgeport shoreline from the Fairfield border to Pleasure Beach is banned and recreational and commercial fishing is allowed only in open water.

The ban originally spanned from Norwalk to Milford, but has been lifted in the other towns. Shell fishing is banned from Fairfield to the Housatonic River.

Red foam in the water prompted the Coast Guard to fly a helicopter over the harbor and the shoreline Friday morning.

During the flight, officials noticed "heavy product" in the Yellow Mill Channel and a smaller amount at the head of the Pequonnock River, according to Coast Guard Commander Jonathan Theel.

“We want people to understand that this material is in the water and that we need to determine if it harmful. So please don’t fish,” said David Poynton, the emergency response coordinator for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, in a statement. "At this time, it is believed that the material is some type of dye. The bans will remain in place until we feel very confident that the water quality is OK.”

United Illuminating cut power to around 1,400 homes in the area while some 80 firefighters battled the blaze. Electricity was fully restored to Seaview Avenue by 6 p.m. Friday, according to Bridgeport public safety spokesman Bill Kaempffer.

Flames from the factory fire jumped to the roofs of about nine neighboring houses. Carfi said it’s a miracle no one lost a home. The facilities housing Rowayton and JWC, which together employ about 50 people, were both destroyed.

Now, efforts are focused on mitigating the environmental impact, assisting homeowners in repairing damage and helping companies find new locations so people can get back to work.

First responders said they were challenged by the fact that Material Safety Data Sheets identifying chemicals in the factory were lost inside the burning buildings.

The Fairfield County hazmat team was called in and local officials reached out to the Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency because of concerns about the Yellow Mill River.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries – including heat exhaustion and an ankle injury – but no one was seriously hurt, officials said. The Red Cross provided first responders with food and water.

Around 400 local residents were evacuated to St. Ambrose Church on Boston Avenue, according to Red Cross spokesman Paul Shipman. As of Friday morning, the Red Cross continued to help 13 people affected by the fire.

Authorities are investigating to determine the cause of the blaze, but collapsed walls have prevented crews from entering the factory buildings.

Until tests come back showing that it will be safe to fish, no shellfishing is allowed from Fairfield to the Housatonic River or in the harbor.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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