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You don’t expect to see this in your fireplace

Earlier this month a barred owl appeared in the fireplace at a home in Bolton.
Earlier this month a barred owl appeared in the fireplace at a home in Bolton.Marcus Scherer

Every day, police officers respond to reports of all sorts of events and nonevents, most of which never make the news. Here is a sampling of lesser-known — but no less noteworthy — incidents from police log books (a.k.a. blotters) in our suburbs.


On Feb. 11 the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife posted on Facebook a photo of a barred owl sitting in someone’s fireplace in Bolton. “Last week, we received a call from a homeowner with an interesting predicament,” officials wrote. “A barred owl had found its way into their chimney and was now sitting in the fireplace. Fortunately, our Central District Manager Todd Olanyk was able to assist, carefully removing the owl from the fireplace and examining it for injuries before releasing it outside, where it quickly flew off.”


Apparently the owl had found its way into the chimney in the hope of finding a place to nest. MassWildlife officials said barred owls across Massachusetts begin laying eggs from February through May and they don’t build their own nests; they’re cavity nesters, which means that they look for a hollow tree or they try to use the nest of a hawk or squirrel. This barred owl was likely looking for a place and found itself in the chimney with no way to escape.


On the morning of Feb. 5, Paige Canale went out for a stroll in Saugus when something unexpected happened — something that she’ll never forget. The 22-year-old was walking along the river by the Stocker Playground when she became stuck in mud. “It was muddy walking along the riverbank, but the ground was partially solid,” she said in a telephone interview. “All of a sudden I stepped into the mud, and my foot was ankle deep.” Then she took another step. Now both of her feet were submerged in mud.


As Canale tried to free herself, she sank deeper and deeper into the thick muck. “It was like quicksand,” she said. “It got up to my hips and upper thigh.” After spending about a half an hour trying to dig herself out, with no success, she realized she needed to call for help and used her phone to dial 911. Saugus police and firefighters arrived at the scene, and one firefighter who was trying to rescue her “ended up sinking into the mud himself,” she said.

By the time they freed her, she had been trapped in the mud for almost an hour. Rescuers ended up using a rope, harness and a backboard stretcher to pull her to safety. She lost one of her shoes during the ordeal, as it got sucked up into the mud. “I’m so grateful to the first responders who were there….It could have ended up so much worse,” she said. Canale said she never thought something like that would happen, and she’s thankful that she was able to call 911 for help. “You never expect to start sinking out of nowhere. It was completely unexpected,” she said. “I was super lucky I had my phone with me.” she said.


At 9:17 a.m. Jan. 14, Marblehead police received a call from someone who reported that an hour earlier he’d seen a speeding vehicle pass three cars and run a red light at the intersection of Humphrey and Maple streets. The caller said he caught up to the car and described “an older female operator eating a muffin.”



Police are trying to identify a man who made off with $2,000 in vacuum cleaners from a department store in Westborough. The thefts were reported at Target on Turnpike Road on Dec. 11 and 12. Police posted photos of the suspect on Facebook and wrote that the merchandise included ECOVACS and Dyson vacuum cleaners, which are “frequently targeted for theft because they can be easily sold from online markets.” Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Dean Paine at 508-475-4846 or by e-mail at dpaine@town.westborough.ma.us.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.