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In brief: Body in river identified

The body pulled Tuesday from the Spokane River is that of Alexander Allen, 18, who was reported missing July 22, Spokane police said Wednesday.

There does not appear to have been foul play, police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said.

Allen, who lived in Spokane, was last seen in the downtown area around midnight July 19.

His family has been notified of the death.

The Spokane Fire Department pulled the body from the river in the area of West Boone Avenue and North Evergreen Street.

Kayakers had spotted it about 11:10 a.m. Tuesday. Firefighters were quickly able to find the body and retrieve it from the river.

Liquor initiative makes ballot

Washington voters will decide this fall whether the state should get out of the retail and wholesale liquor business. Initiative 1183, which would end the state’s control of those sales, qualified for the Nov. 8 ballot, state elections officials said.

The initiative, sometimes known as the Costco initiative because of the retailer’s support, gathered more than 361,000 signatures in three weeks, a state record, Secretary of State Sam Reed said. It also had a lower than average rate of signature rejection in the spot checks and had far more than enough signatures to qualify.

It is the second initiative to qualify for the general election ballot after turning in large cushions of signatures. I-1125, on transportation funding and projects, qualified Monday. Signature checks now begin on I-1163, which reinstitutes mandatory training and background checks for home health care workers.

Brush fires threaten homes

Three small brush fires Wednesday threatened two homes and burned several acres near Minnehaha Park.

Firefighters from the city of Spokane, the Washington Department of Natural Resources and Spokane County Fire District 9 responded to a fire in the woods north of the park, Havana Street and Euclid Avenue, about 4:30 p.m., said Andrew Stenbeck, DNR spokesman.

The fire started near the tennis courts at the east end of the park and burned about a quarter of an acre before two additional fires were spotted uphill north of the park on Beacon Hill, fire officials said. The two spot fires spread into one fire and burned four acres.

The blaze threatened two homes in the area, communication towers and power lines on the hill, Stenbeck said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Voting by mail begins

Ballots for the Aug. 16 primary are going out all over Washington state and should be in voters’ mailboxes by week’s end. Elections officials in Spokane County said they were mailing some 200,000 ballots on Wednesday and today.

Not all voters will get ballots, however, because some cities, towns or voting districts don’t have races with at least three candidates seeking an office. For example, the special election for the 4th District State Senate seat in the Spokane Valley has two Republicans, incumbent Jeff Baxter and former state Rep. Mike Padden, but no other candidates. Under the state’s top-two primary rules, there’s no partisan primary and race is decided in the general election.

Child injured in blaze

A 9-year-old girl sustained critical burns Wednesday in a north Spokane house fire started by the child playing with a lighter, fire officials said.

The Spokane Fire Department responded about 10 a.m. to a home in the 2900 block of West Central Avenue, arriving to find a girl with critical burns being cared for by her family, Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer said in a news release.

Firefighters also found and extinguished a small fire inside the home, Schaeffer said.

The girl was taken to a Spokane trauma center and later flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where her condition is unknown late Wednesday.

ISP completes perjury probe

The Idaho State Police has completed its investigation of accusations that a veteran officer committed perjury during the murder trial of a North Idaho man.

The state Supreme Court threw out the 2006 conviction of Jonathan Wade Ellington, citing the likelihood that ISP Cpl. Fred Rice lied while on the stand. The court ruled that the testimony Rice gave on accident reconstruction contradicted testimony he’d given in other cases.

ISP Capt. Clark Rollins said the investigation now will be reviewed by “numerous” others within the agency “to make sure there’s consensus.” Rice has been employed with ISP since 1983 and was placed on administrative leave following the Supreme Court decision. Officials did not release any details from the investigation.

Ellington, of Hayden, was sentenced to prison for second-degree murder for running over Vonette Lee Larsen on Jan. 1, 2006. Ellington is awaiting a new trial.