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Pole fires cut power to almost 900

Mon., Aug. 20, 2007

A series of utility pole fires around Eastern Washington left an estimated 147 Avista customers in Spokane and as many as 729 customers in the Colville area without power Sunday.

Debbie Simock, a communications manager for Avista, said the fires were scattered throughout the area, a result of the rain following weeks of hot, dry weather. When dust that builds up on the poles in such conditions gets wet, the water can act as a conductor for electricity, catching the pole on fire, Simock said.

After the fires are put out, it usually takes several hours to replace the pole and restore power. There were no reports of injuries in pole fires Sunday, but Simock said that anyone who finds a downed wire should assume it is live, stay away from it and call Avista or fire officials.

– Jim Camden

Weather helps crews battle border blaze

Cool, damp weather helped Canadian and U.S. firefighters get a handle on the South Pend D’oreille fire along the border between Washington state and British Columbia.

Corwin Odland, a fire information officer for the British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Ranges, said the fire covers about 7,900 acres and has forced the evacuation of two homes. An additional 37 homes were alerted that evacuation might be necessary.

Canadian firefighters were concentrating on the northern edge of the fire, which is about 14 kilometers from Salmo, B.C., using 13 helicopters and other heavy equipment. American firefighters were on the southern edge.

Debbie Wilkins of the U.S. Forest Service estimated some 180 firefighters were working the southern end Sunday with more expected today.

Officials on both sides of the border said they were worried the expected return of hotter, drier weather this week would elevate the fire from its current status as a Rank 2 “creeping ground fire.”

– Jim Camden


National Guard laptop, data drive recovered

The laptop computer and flash drive that contained personal information on 3,400 Idaho Army National Guard personnel has been recovered, Boise police reported Saturday.

The laptop, which contained names, addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers of Guard personnel, was stolen during a string of burglaries in the Columbia Village neighborhood early Tuesday.

It was found during an investigation at a Boise residence after the arrest early Saturday of a boy who was suspected of burglarizing vehicles near Eighth and Brumback streets.

Officers found stolen items in the suspect’s vehicle, according to a police press release.

The suspect faces several counts of burglary.

– Associated Press


Man stable, another jailed after stabbing

A 21-year-old Colfax man was at Sacred Heart Medical Center after being stabbed in the stomach in Rosalia early Sunday.

Brandon Morgan was listed in stable condition, and Donald Lindquist, 18, of Rosalia, was jailed on charges of first-degree assault, Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers said.

“Alcohol was a contributing factor in this incident,” Myers said in a press release.

– Jim Camden

Body of 68-year-old camper discovered

The body of a 68-year-old man who police believe died of natural causes while camping in southwest Spokane was discovered Sunday.

The man’s identity was being withheld until his relatives could be located and notified, authorities said. Police were summoned to a wooded area south of 16th and Cochran, and west of U.S. Highway 195, about 1 p.m. by a hiker, Officer Tim Moses said in a news release.

– David Wasson


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