Heater blamed in deadly fire

Misuse of a kerosene heater officially has been determined as the cause of a fire that killed seven people of Liberian descent in Southwest Philadelphia on Friday night.

The Fire Marshal's Office released the findings yesterday afternoon. Three adults, one teenager and three children under 10 died in the blaze that 53 firefighters spent 33 minutes fighting.

Man kills self after strangling

A prosecutor says a Bridgeport, Montgomery County, man apparently accidentally strangled his live-in girlfriend days before killing himself.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman said police went to the apartment the couple shared to notify of her boyfriend's suicide by hanging on Saturday. Instead, police found her badly decomposed body. Ferman said yesterday that it appears the 42-year-old woman was strangled during a consensual sexual encounter. She says the boyfriend left a note saying her death was a terrible accident.

Nifty idea: Clean air for all

Pennsylvania on Thursday will begin enforcing a federal rule designed to cut power-plant emissions of smog, soot and acid rain-causing pollutants, the Rendell administration said.

A three-judge appeals panel in Washington, D.C., revived the Clean Air Interstate Rule last week, but ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make revisions to provide more protection for states downwind of the dirtiest power plants.

Property-tax rebate deadline

Tomorrow is the deadline for state residents who are eligible to receive rebates under the expanded property tax-rebate program to apply for rebates up to $975.

Rebate applications are available for download at www.papropertytaxrelief.com. Assistance is available by calling, toll free, 888-222-9190 Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

12 killed in holiday crashes

Twelve people were killed in traffic crashes investigated by the state police during the five-day holiday driving period, Commissioner Frank E. Pawlowski said.

In addition to the 12 fatalities, 410 people were injured in the 1,673 crashes to which troopers responded. Pawlowski said 105 of the crashes, including two of the fatals, were alcohol-related.

Victory for civil unions

Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster, a lesbian couple who were barred from holding a civil-union ceremony at a beachfront pavilion near Asbury Park, have won a legal victory.

The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights said in a ruling yesterday that its investigation found that the refusal of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist organization that owns the beachfront property, to rent the spot to the couple for a civil-union ceremony in March 2007 violated the public accommodation provisions of the state's discrimination law. *

- Staff and wire reports