NATION: Cleanup, probe next after blast at furniture co.

Cleanup, probe next after blast at furniture co.

WAYNE, Mich. — Utility and fire officials turned their attention Thursday to investigating whether a natural gas explosion destroyed a suburban Detroit store, killing two employees and severely injuring the owner.

Consumers Energy spokeswoman Debra Dodd said crews worked overnight to repair a gas main behind what had been William C. Franks Furniture store in Wayne and removed a section of pipe for investigation.

She said it was not clear if the main was damaged in the explosion Wednesday morning or if it had been ruptured prior to the massive blast that flattened the family-run business.

An investigation into the cause could take weeks, if not months, she said.

“Nobody wants to jump to any conclusions,” she said, but added there are “things about it that are characteristic” of a natural gas blast.

Daughter, mom charged with sex assault

PHOENIX — The daughter of a county supervisor has been arrested on suspicion of sexual conduct with the same teenage boy that her mother is accused of sexually abusing over a three-year period, police said Thursday.

Rachel Katherine Brock, 21, was arrested Wednesday on three counts of sexual conduct with a minor and one count of transmitting obscene material as part of an ongoing investigation surrounding her mother, 48-year-old Susan Brock.

Both women were being held at the Maricopa County jail.

Chandler police Sgt. Joe Favazzo said it appears that Susan and Rachel Brock didn’t know about each other’s relationship with the teen.

Murkowski finally certified in Alaska vote

JUNEAU, Alaska — Sen. Lisa Murkowski has been certified the winner of Alaska’s Senate race following a nearly two-month legal battle.

State officials on Thursday signed paperwork making her win over GOP rival Joe Miller official.

Murkowski becomes the first U.S. Senate candidate since Strom Thurmond in 1954 to win with a write-in campaign. Murkowski will be sworn in when Congress begins its new term next week.

Miller won the primary in August, prompting Murkowski to run for re-election as a write-in. Miller then sued the state over its handling of the race as Murkowski toppled him in the general election.

Flu becoming more widespread in five states

ATLANTA — Flu season appears to be picking up.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says five states had widespread reports of flu last week, up from zero two weeks earlier.

A CDC report released Thursday says four of the states were in the South — Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Virginia. The other was New York.

The report also says that tests of about 120 virus samples show the circulating flu strains seem to be well-matched to this season’s flu vaccine.

Health officials say an estimated 23,600 flu-related deaths occur each year.

Hard Rock hotel fined for sex and drug complaints

LAS VEGAS — The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas has agreed to pay $650,000 to settle a complaint from state gambling regulators that security guards and VIP hosts sold cocaine and ecstasy to patrons and let them use private nightclub bathrooms for sex and drugs.

The hotel agreed Wednesday to pay the settlement without admitting or denying allegations, avoiding a hearing before Nevada regulators who have the power to revoke the casino’s gambling license. The hotel acknowledged in the Nevada Gaming Control Board settlement that regulators could have proved their case at a regulatory hearing.

Joseph Magliarditi, the hotel’s chief executive, said in a statement that the hotel takes the issues seriously.

Ohio man says Ozzy made him drive drunk

CLEVELAND — An Ohio drunken-driving suspect is blaming his arrest on Ozzy Osbourne.

William Liston was arrested Christmas Eve in suburban Cleveland. WJW-TV says he told police officers, ‘‘Ozzy Osbourne and his music made me do it.’’

Osbourne’s hits as lead singer of heavy metal band Black Sabbath and as a solo artist include ‘‘Paranoid’’ and ‘‘Road to Nowhere.’’

Liston is awaiting arraignment. He’s to appear in court Tuesday.