A fiery crash that sparked a brush fire along Interstate 90 was under investigation Sunday night.
Initial reports indicated that a sport utility vehicle crashed before 8:30 p.m. near Liberty Lake, overturning at the Appleway exit and igniting a small blaze that firefighters extinguished.
Authorities reportedly were searching for the occupants of the vehicle late Sunday.
According to the Washington State Patrol, just one lane was open westbound, backing up traffic as weekend travelers were returning from Idaho.
In addition to state troopers, Liberty Lake police and Spokane County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the scene.
Deputies were blocking access to the freeway at Barker Road.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo.
Yellowstone shuts East Entrance
A wind-driven wildfire forced officials on Sunday to close the East Entrance, one of Yellowstone National Park’s five major entrances.
“Flames are threatening the road,” National Park Service spokesman Al Nash said.
About 25 miles of the road between the East Entrance and Fishing Bridge inside the park to the north of Yellowstone Lake were closed to traffic, Nash said.
“This is a temporary closure,” he said.
“We do not know how long it will be necessary to keep the road closed. The fire has increased dramatically in size this afternoon because of the high gusty winds.”
Until the east gate is reopened, travelers from Cody must detour 29 miles through Montana to enter the park.
Deputies rescued after losing way
Ten sheriff’s deputies who got stranded in the woods of southwest Washington while busting a marijuana-growing operation were rescued Sunday.
Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown says the officers spent Saturday removing thousands of marijuana plants from a large growing operation in the Dog Creek area, about 56 miles east of Vancouver.
Brown says the site was in extremely rugged terrain, and the team became disoriented on Saturday as daylight started to run out. They hunkered down until rescuers reached them Sunday morning.
Authorities have recently been conducting an annual sweep using helicopters to spot marijuana-growing operations.
Over the past week and a half, they have seized nearly 80,000 marijuana plants in southwest and south-central Washington.
State fines rail contractor
The state Department of Labor and Industries has fined the contractor building Sound Transit’s light-rail tunnel under Beacon Hill.
The fine of $29,000 is for five “serious” workplace violations following a fatal accident at the tunnel work site.
The violations are related to the operation of supply rail cars at the site.
On Feb. 7, a worker was killed when an out-of-control, loaded supply train ran into another car.
The company, Obayashi Corp., has 15 days to respond or pay the fines. An Obayashi representative could not be reached for comment.
Labor and Industries said Obayashi failed to properly train workers operating the supply trains, did not keep the rails clean and safe for workers, did not properly inspect the supply locomotives, did not make sure material hauled on the trains was secure, and did not use bumper blocks to stop trains from running into one another.
and wire reports