Car crash sparks gas pump fire in Portland

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A chain reaction car crash Wednesday afternoon sent a pickup truck into a gas pump, causing it to burst into flames.

The crash happened at the Riverton Gas Station of Forest Ave. Witnesses say a white pickup truck rammed into a larger, dark-colored truck, pushing it into the pump. A third car was rear ended.

"It was probably the most traumatizing thing I've ever seen in my life," Arianna DuPont, who witnessed the crash, said.

It appears the larger truck had been parked. Witnesses said nobody was inside at the time of the crash.

There is a fire station right across the street from the gas station, so firefighters quickly put out the fire.

Elves help out Santa by reading childrens' Christmas letters

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Postal carriers weren't the only ones hustling and bustling today.

Santa's elves visited the Portland Post Office this morning to read, and answer some very important letters.

The elves combed through hundreds of notes from children excited for Christmas.

Of course, Santa couldn't be there today because he only has a few days left to get ready for Christmas.

Salvation Army trying to reach Red Kettle goal



The Salvation Army of Greater Portland is still trying to reach its $180,000 goal for its Red Kettle Campaign, which ends on Christmas, to fund the organization's operational costs for the services it offers.

As of Monday morning, Major Annette Lock said the organization had raised $160,000, leaving them $20,000 shy of their goal. Last year, the Salvation Army of Greater Portland raised $140,000.

"We are a little nervous, but we are optimistic. We've seen how generous this community is, and we know it's possible," said Major Annette Lock.

The Salvation Army of Greater Portland held its final day of toy distribution Tuesday morning to help parents get presents for their children this Christmas.

City is looking for ideas to redesign Congress Square

PORTLAND, Maine (NEW CENTER) -- Portland is putting the call out for ideas to redesign Congress Square.

City officials are requesting submissions from artists and landscape designers to redo the park on the corner of Congress and High Streets.

The best way to use this space has been the subject of debate for a few years.

City officials said the new plan will look to improve pedestrian traffic through the park as well as a showcase or feature public artwork.

Artists and designers have until the end of January to submit their proposals to city officials.

A public forum will be held in March to review the ideas and give the chance for feedback.

Portland holds ribbon cutting for Thompson's Point ice rink

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Despite warmer than normal temperatures this time of year, city officials in Portland are celebrating the new ice skating rink at Thompson's Point.

The rink has been open since shortly after Thanksgiving, but it just had its ribbon cutting Tuesday. Several kids showed up for the open skate after the event.

The new rink features a warming yurt with a bar and several food trucks.

Perhaps the biggest draw to "The Rink at Thompson's Point" this year is how warm it's been. Many ponds in the state aren't even close to frozen over yet.

The Thompson's Point rink is artificially refrigerated, so it will stay frozen even on warmer days.

Portland holds vigil for homeless who've died

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- People in Portland gathered Monday night to remember members of the city's homeless community who died in 2015. Forty three people passed away. That number includes people who were homeless when they died, and others who were recently homeless in the Greater Portland area.

A large group of homeless people, people who work to help them and city officials walked up Preble Street to Monument Square.

Preble Street's director spoke at the vigil, calling for better policies to help the homeless. He said that should include access to housing, but also access to healthcare and treatment for addiction.

Denise Parham, a homeless woman in recovery from heroin addiction, paid tribute to some of her friends who died in 2015.

Elderly man dies Sunday after fleece pajamas catch fire

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Police say an elderly man, 80-year-old Myron H. McLaughlin, has died from his injuries after being critically burned Friday night when his clothes caught fire inside his apartment at Franklin Towers.

The State Fire Marshal's office said McLaughlin was being treated at Maine Medical Center for burns to 60 percent of his body, he died at the hospital Sunday.

Portland firefighters responded to the towers around 7:30 p.m. after a smoke alarm went off. Fire Marshal investigators said it appears McLaughlin was smoking while sitting in a living room chair and his fleece pajamas caught fire as a result. There was no damage to the apartment.