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In brief: Washington soldier killed in Afghanistan

A paratrooper from Western Washington was one of two soldiers who died from a roadside bombing in Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Casey Combs, 28, of Auburn, Wash., and Sgt. David Stephens, 28, of Tullahoma, Tenn., were fatally wounded Thursday in the bombing near Miri, Afghanistan, the 82nd Airborne Division said Saturday.

Combs was an infantryman in the 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd.

Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Burrill said Combs joined the Army because of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“He was angry that someone would try to attack his country like that, and he wanted to serve his country,” Burrill said.

“Combs never stepped away from a challenge or shirked responsibility.”

Combs is survived by his wife, Amber Combs, and his daughter Hallie, 6, and son Trenton, 2, all of Fayetteville; his father, Robert Combs, of Orting, Wash.; and his mother, Lillian Combs, of Auburn.

Amber Combs said her husband had been a construction foreman before he joined the Army.

“He was a good dad, cared a lot about his kids and liked to be home with them,” she said.

– Associated Press

Airway Heights

Power outage affects 1,300 homes, airport

A power outage Sunday morning left more than 1,300 people in Airway Heights and parts of the West Plains without power.

The outage was triggered by an Inland Power & Light feeder line going out of an Avista Utilities substation at Airway Heights, said Avista spokeswoman Laurine Jue. Most of Airway Heights was affected, along with some rural areas.

Approximately 1,200 Inland Power & Light customers were affected, with power restored around 2:45 p.m. About 120 Avista customers also lost power but had it restored around 2 p.m. Crews from both utilities were dispatched to the substation to find the source of the problem.

The outage, first reported at 11:27 a.m., cut off power to the Spokane International Airport for nine seconds before auxiliary power kicked in, said airport spokesman Todd Woodard. The airport was on backup power for less than one hour. Four flights, two inbound and two outbound, were affected when the jet bridges didn’t work and people had to deplane or access their flights using portable steps, Woodard added.

Inland Power & Light is the largest electric cooperative in Washington, serving more than 35,000 commercial, residential and farm customers in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

– Karen Dorn Steele


Parking lot gate crunches SUV

The long arm of the law – a heavy, motion-activated gate just west of the Public Safety Building – came down hard Sunday evening on a hapless motorist.

The red-and-white striped metal gate that restricts access to a law enforcement parking lot at the corner of West Mallon and North Adams streets malfunctioned when an unidentified driver was trying to exit from the Spokane County-owned parking lot onto Adams. Instead, it jerked and came down hard on the man’s late-model Honda Pilot, sending chrome and headlight parts flying after the SUV hit the security gate.

If the driver had tried to enter from Adams Street, he would have seen a large sign saying “law enforcement vehicles only.” But there is no similar warning for a car approaching Adams from the east in the private lot.

Spokane Police Department officers called paramedics to check the driver, who had blood on his chin after the mishap.

The man was not seriously injured.

“He’s not getting a ticket. He’s fine. There’s no damage to anything but his car and himself,” said Spokane Police Department Sgt. Charles J. Reynolds.

– Karen Dorn Steele

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