EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 16, 2014

Editorial: Some cheers, some jeers for recent newsmakers

CHEERS to the Lawrence Fire Department, and to the departments from surrounding communities who pitched in to help, for their skillful handling of the Merrimac Paper fire.

These aging mill buildings, their old timbers soaked through with machine oils and industrial chemicals, burn quickly and intensely. Department officials called a second alarm as soon as they arrived at the burning mill and that quickly escalated to five alarms. At its peak, more than 70 firefighters from eight communities were working the fire.

The fire was brought under control in about two hours but crews remained on the scene containing hot spots well into the next day. The interior of the abandoned paper mill was destroyed; its brick facade remains but will be demolished.

Department leaders on the scene wisely kept firefighters out of the building, opting to focus on containing and controlling the blaze. This strategy was successful. The fire did not spread and only one firefighter sustained a minor injury, which was treated at the scene.

The effort now turns toward determining the cause of the fire. But the city should be grateful, as we are, for the fine work of its firefighters and those from surrounding communities. We are thankful as well that no one was seriously injured.

CHEERS to the federal judge in the P.J. Lopez trial, who delivered a stern lecture on personal responsibility to the defendant.

Lopez, a former Lawrence police officer found guilty of a bribery scheme involving kickbacks paid by a towing company, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison, three years of probation and a $10,000 fine. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf imposed the sentence despite a plea from Lopez’s lawyer that prison time would inflict financial ruin on his client’s family.

“You are going to have to live with the knowledge that you inflicted pain on the people you love,” Wolf said as he sentenced Lopez at U.S. District Court in South Boston.

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