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Local & Regional Briefs for Wednesday, March 19

Officials: Cornish Fire Caused By Discarded Cigarette

Cornish — Fire officials said the improper disposal of smoking materials on the front deck of a Cornish home on Monday caused a fire that left three people displaced.

“A cigarette was either dropped or an ember fell down through a slot in the deck,” Cornish Fire Chief Scott Reuthe said on Tuesday, adding that the object likely landed on a plastic bag filled with foam padding that is commonly placed under carpets.

“It smoldered for a while before it ignited,” Reuthe said. Tires were also under the deck, and caught fire, he said.

The occupants inside the Center Road home at the time of the fire — the sister of the homeowner and a 2-year-old child — were reported to be on the deck roughly an hour before the fire started, the chief said.

The woman and child, as well as a golden retriever, got out of the home safely.

Officials with the Office of the State Fire Marshall arrived on scene late Monday to assist with the investigation.

Reuthe advised individuals to purchase cigarette receptacles, much like those seen outside convenience stores, to properly dispose of smoking materials.

“They have sand in the bottom of those, so the cigarettes fall into the sand and go out on their own,” he said, noting a nonflammable item placed in the bottom of a container would also do the trick.

Key Vt. Senator Flips Stance On Phone Ban While Driving

Montpelier (ap) — A key roadblock to banning the use of hand-held electronic devices like cell phones in Vermont has been overcome with a key senator’s change in position on the issue.

Sen. Dick Mazza, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, had been a past opponent of banning cell phones while driving, but changed to a yes vote as his committee voted unanimously in support of the bill on Tuesday.

Mazza notes Vermont already has banned texting while driving.

He says that’s been difficult for police to enforce, because officers often can’t tell if someone was texting or dialing.

The House already has passed a cell phone ban. Gov. Peter Shumlin has said he’s cool to the idea, but has stopped short of a veto threat.

— Staff and Wire reports