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Arson

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A man who started a 2020 wildfire that killed 12 endangered California condors and seriously injured a firefighter has been sentenced to 24 years in prison. Ivan Gomez was sentenced Wednesday in Monterey County. He was found guilty of 16 felony counts, including arson and animal cruelty. Prosecutors say Gomez told them he set the August 2020 Big Sur Dolan fire while illegally growing marijuana in the Los Padres National Forest. The blaze northwest of Los Angeles injured several firefighters, one seriously, destroyed 10 homes and burned down a condor sanctuary.

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Twenty years after a spate of deaths at a rural Missouri hospital, a former worker has been charged with murder. According to a police investigator, in the five months that Jennifer Anne Hall was a respiratory therapist at Hedrick Medical Center, the Chillicothe hospital experienced 18 “code blue” incidents. The hospital historically averaged one such sudden cardiac event each year. Nine of the patients died, and nine recovered. Livingston County's prosecutor says Fern Franco died of lethal doses of a muscle relaxant and the pain reliever morphine. Hall’s attorney says she didn't have access to those or any other drugs. He said Hall became a scapegoat because of an arson conviction that she was cleared of in 2005.

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Prosecutors say a tree trimmer in rural Northern California was found guilty in a series of throat-slashing attacks that left three people dead. The Tehama County District Attorney’s office said Wednesday that a jury in Butte County on Tuesday found 37-year-old Ryan Scott Blinston guilty of murder, attempted murder and arson. Blinston, of Oroville, faces a mandatory term of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors say Blinston was working for a tree-trimming service when in 2020 he returned to the clients’ homes in Butte and Tehama Counties, north of Sacramento, after the work was completed and slashed the throats of the residents.

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Sri Lanka’s president is promising to appoint a new prime minister, empower the Parliament and abolish the all-powerful executive presidential system as reforms to stabilize the country engulfed in a political crisis and violence triggered by the worst economic crises in memory. In a televised address Wednesday, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said he condemns attacks on peaceful protesters by mobs who came to support his brother and former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who resigned Monday. Anti-government protests were triggered by a debt crisis that has nearly bankrupted Sri Lanka and left its people facing severe shortages of fuel and other essentials.

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Sri Lanka’s defense ministry has ordered security forces to shoot anyone causing injury to people or property to contain widespread arson and mob violence targeting government supporters. The order came after violent clashes a day earlier left eight people dead and prompted the resignation of the prime minister, who is blamed along with his brother, the president, for leading the country into its worst economic crisis. For months, people have been forced to stand in long lines to buy essentials because a foreign exchange crisis has caused imports of everything from milk to fuel to plunge, spawning dire food shortages and rolling power cuts.

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No one has been arrested yet following a weekend fire and vandalism at the office of a prominent Wisconsin anti-abortion lobbying group. The fire at the Wisconsin Family Action office in Madison comes after two Catholic churches in Colorado, including one known for its annual anti-abortion display, were vandalized last week. The message “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either” was spray-painted on the exterior of the office in Wisconsin. The fire is being investigated as arson. Madison police and fire officials, as well as the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, have scheduled a Monday update.  

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Vandals struck an anti-abortion group office, where a fire broke out and a Molotov cocktail was found. Police say a spray-painted a message also was found inside the Wisconsin Family Action headquarters. Madison police spokeswoman Stephanie Fryer told the Wisconsin State Journal that the fire was reported shortly after 6 a.m. Sunday.  It wasn’t immediately clear who vandalized the building, but the message “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either” was spray-painted on the building. The lobbying group's president, Julaine Appling, said she considers the fire a “direct threat” given that it happened just a few days after a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion was leaked that suggested the court may soon overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

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The police chief in Raleigh, North Carolina, says officers have shot and killed a man who was throwing Molotov cocktails and setting cars on fire near a police station. Police Chief Estella Patterson said the fatally shooting took place Saturday afternoon after an officer observed a man setting cars on fire in a parking lot near the Southeast district station. She says the officer called for assistance, and three other officers came to help. She says officers ordered the man to stop, but the person continued to throw Molotov cocktails. Patterson says the officers then fired their weapons, and the man was struck multiple times. He was not immediately identified.

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A man is facing federal hate crime and arson charges for a fire that destroyed the Church of the Latter-day Saints in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday announced the charges against 46-year-old Christopher Scott Pritchard, of Cape Girardeau. Pritchard also faces state charges of property damage motivated by discrimination, arson, burglary and stealing. His state trial is scheduled for October. The fire broke out in April 2021 and quickly engulfed the church. No one was inside and no one was injured, but the building was destroyed. A phone message left Friday with Pritchard’s lawyer has not been returned.

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A small fire at a Perdue Farms soybean facility in Virginia on Saturday has become the most recent fodder for a conspiracy theory that suggests fires at food processing plants and other facilities are part of an effort to undermine the U.S. food supply. Fire officials in Virginia and other locations where cases have been cited say the incidents are accidents, not arson, and the National Fire Protection Association says fires in the first four months of 2022 do not "signal anything out of the ordinary.”  Experts also say the fires are not a major threat to the U.S. food supply.

Crews continued repairing utility lines and clearing rubble Tuesday at the site of Sunday’s fire on Main Street, while the man suspected of setting the blaze at the Wilmarth Building awaited a court date.

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President Joe Biden says the U.S. will share an additional 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines with the world in the coming six weeks.

A late-night crash in Queensbury led to a woman being hospitalized Thursday.

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