What’s news in the Northwest today:
Wildfire experts say states across the West are now at the highest risk of the season for wildfires as hot weather patterns continue to dry out fuels and forests across the region.
Ed Delgado at the National Interagency Fire Center says the biggest concern in August comes for Northern Rockies states like Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, as well as Great Basin states like Utah, Nevada and Oregon.
Delgado says hot and dry conditions will persist through August, but the forecast also calls for higher chances of thunderstorms.
NIFC Wildfire Analyst Jeremy Sullens says the conditions are already ripe for higher-elevation timber fires to ignite in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming — especially as higher elevation fuels dry out.
Officials say most western wildfires so far have been in lower-elevation areas.
1,100 marijuana plants found in Idaho corn field
TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Law enforcement officers making an aerial search for marijuana growing operations found a dozen plots in corn fields southwest of Jerome.
Jerome County Sheriff Doug McFall says deputies and Idaho State Police investigators uprooted about 1,100 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of $2.2 million on Wednesday. The grow operations were within about a two-mile radius of each other.
Detective Rick Cowen says none of the land owners were aware the marijuana plants were growing on their property.
Cowen says growers plant marijuana in the corn fields because they’ll be irrigated along with the corn.
McFall says his office decided to do some flights searching for marijuana grows after about 6,500 plants were found in a corn field in Gooding County last week. He says they plan more flights.
Crews rescue Dude the cat from apartment fire
PORTLAND — Firefighters who responded to a southeast Portland apartment fire could hear screaming inside and see smoke seeping from under the door. So they kicked in the door and found — a cat.
Fire spokesman Ron Rouse says the cat — named Dude — was fine after the firefighters took him outside Wednesday evening and gave him some oxygen.
Rouse says the apartment resident had taken some warm clothes from the dryer and set them on a couch near some oily rags, then left the apartment. The spokesman says the combination of heat and the oily rags created spontaneous combustion. The apartment’s automatic sprinklers contained the fire to the couch.
The Red Cross was called to help the tenant and his cat.
WA Supreme Court rules backpack search illegal
SEATTLE — The Washington Supreme Court has ruled that a student backpack search in 2009 at a Bellevue high school was illegal because the officer who conducted the search and found a weapon was acting as a police officer at the time.
The court says that search did not qualify for a school search exemption and the weapon should have been allowed as evidence in the young man’s trial.
Today’s decision in the case on a vote of 6-3 overturns an appeals court decision.
The majority opinion, written by Justice Susan Owens, says the Bellevue Police officer who conducted the search was paid by the school district to be a school resource officer. But Owens writes that he was acting as a police officer at the time of the search.
Authorities shoot mountain lion that frightened campers
MISSOULA — State wildlife officials have shot and killed a young, male mountain lion suspected of frightening several campers in the Clearwater Junction area.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife manager Mike Thompson tells KECI-TV that wardens shot the cat at about 10 p.m. Wednesday after it frightened an Oregon woman who was walking a dog outside a cabin about 40 miles northeast of Missoula.
Patrick Muri said he fired shots to frighten the cat up a tree at about 9:30 p.m. and Thompson says a warden shot the cat just about 30 minutes later.
Thompson says based on the cat’s behavior, they believe it was the same one that stalked campers near Harpers Lake two weeks ago. The Missoulian reports the same cat also was suspected of wandering into Salmon Lake State Park on Monday night.
71-year-old woman charged with meth possession
TWIN FALLS, Idaho — A 71-year-old southern Idaho woman has been charged with possession of methamphetamine after police said they found the illicit drug in her bedroom.
The Times-News reports Twin Falls resident Myrna Kirklin was arraigned in 5th District Court on Wednesday.
According to a police report, a woman called officers last month to say she believed her mother was using methamphetamine in their home. The report says that when police arrived, they believed Kirklin appeared to be under the influence, and that though she initially denied using drugs, she later offered to show the officers the meth.
Police say in the report that they found just under a gram of meth in a makeup bag and manicure set case. A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for Aug. 10.
Trash drivers voting on ending Seattle area strike
SEATTLE — The picket signs are gone, so the Waste Management garbage trucks are rolling today in the Seattle-Everett area.
The drivers of yard waste and recycling trucks vote today on a tentative agreement the Teamsters union is recommending.
The agreement likely means more than 200,000 customers can expect the return of regular service to dump garbage, yard waste and recycling bins that have been drawing flies since a strike began July 25.
The company is telling residential and commercial customers to put out their bins if today is their regular collection day.
Waste Management had provided limited service with out-of-state drivers and was planning to hire permanent replacements. The company faced fines of $1.25 million a day from the city of Seattle for missed pickups.
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