July 2, 2008 in City

In brief: Area storms spark fast-moving fire

The Spokesman-Review
 

Lightning sparked a fast-moving fire near Omak Tuesday evening as an intense thunder and lightening storm swept through the region bringing rain, hail and wind.

As with a similar storm that swept through the area in June, much of Spokane was bypassed. Residents of Spokane Valley and east into North Idaho, as well as those in Central Washington, felt the brunt of it.

About 2,000 Avista Utilities customers in Post Falls lost power about 7:45 p.m., but 1,600 had it back by 9:30 p.m. and the other 400 were expected to be restored by 1 a.m.

The fire near Omak began when lightning hit Jackass Butte near Okanogan County Airport, according to a dispatcher. The Okanagan Bingo Casino, a hotel and 10 homes were evacuated, and the fire had reportedly crossed Highway 97 and was threatening radio communication towers. By 9:40 p.m. it had grown to 1,000 acres.

From staff reports

Washington

Health officials set marijuana standards

Health officials say 1 ½ pounds of marijuana is an ample 60-day supply for patients who have a doctor’s approval to smoke drug for pain relief.

The proposed rules by the Washington state Department of Health seek to clarify how much is enough under Washington state law. The agency settled on the 24 ounces of usable marijuana, along with six mature plants and 18 immature plants.

Voters legalized marijuana use for medical purposes by passing an initiative in 1998.

The health department reviewed studies and consulted with patients, doctors, police and other state residents to establish the proposal.

Read the proposed regulations packaged with this story at www.spokesmanreview.com.

John Stucke

Calm first day for new cell phone law

Few citations were issued during the first day of Washington’s hands-free cell phone law.

Perhaps drivers were obeying the law due to pre-law mass publicity, but authorities also acknowledged they weren’t focusing on the violation.

“We’re not out there stopping a bunch of people to just make a bunch of revenue,” said Spokane police Officer Jon Strickland, adding that officers have too many other things to do.

The law states that drivers cannot have cell phones up to their ears, but they can use hands-free devices or talk on speakerphone. A cell-related ticket will be issued only if the driver first commits another violation, such as speeding or failure to yield. The ticket is $124. Drivers calling 911 and on-duty emergency workers are exempt from the law.

Jody Lawrence-Turner

Coeur d’Alene

Blackwell boat launch needs caretaker

The Blackwell Island boat launch is so busy that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management wants to have a volunteer caretaker keep tabs on the popular Coeur d’Alene ramp and picnic area at the mouth of the Spokane River.

First, the BLM must ask Coeur d’Alene to annex about 9.6 acres just west of the launch so it can get sewer and water services for an RV pad, which the volunteer caretakers would use each summer. The majority of the launch property, which is north of where U.S. Highway 95 bisects Blackwell Island, was annexed in 2003. That was before the BLM thought it would need a summer caretaker for the site.

Field manager Eric Thomson said the BLM will keep the property natural except for a small RV pad across the canal from the island, which is accessed off Fairmont Loop.The Coeur d’Alene Planning Commission is having a public hearing on the request July 8. The City Council will have the final say. The 5:30 p.m. meeting is at the Community Room in the lower level of the Coeur d’Alene Library, 702 E. Front St.

Erica F. Curless

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