A small fire at the Ellsworth offices of the Washington Hancock County Community Agency is a good reminder to use caution when thawing frozen pipes, which is how the fire started. The safest methods include a slow warm-up with a hair dryer, a hot towel, or a space heater that’s a safe distance away from combustibles. Ellsworth fire officials say it’s never a good idea to use anything with an open flame.

While the number of flu cases is down so far this season, officials say this year’s influenza A is more severe than usual and is causing more hospitalizations. The Maine CDC reports 373 flu cases reported before Christmas, with 99 of those sending patients to the hospital. Mainers are reminded to cover their cough, wash hands often, stay home if they’re sick, and consider getting a flu shot to lessen the severity of the illness.

The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is auctioning off 10 moose permits for next fall’s hunting season. Over two thousand permits were awarded last season in the annual moose lottery, but this time around it’s an auction, with the permits going to the highest bidder who must then tell officials when and where they intend to hunt. Bids will be accepted until February 15th through Maine dot gov.

The city of Brewer is encouraging residents to bring their Christmas trees to the auditorium parking lot, where they will be gathered up and used as fuel. Most communities have some sort of recycling option for the used trees, rather than just tossing them out into the yard. Find your community’s disposal options at pick your own Christmas tree dot org.