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In brief: Brush fires flare up around the region

Brush fires kept firefighters hopping Sunday around the Inland Northwest.

One on Spokane’s lower South Hill prompted a precautionary evacuation of homes along East Seventh Avenue near South Crestline Street. The fire burned on steep terrain near the Ben Burr Trail. Spokane fire crews tracked it down and doused the flames.

Firefighters from Airway Heights and the Washington Department of Natural Resources extinguished a three-acre brush fire along West Deno Road just north of Spokane County Raceway.

Fire crews responded to several other small brush fires around Spokane and Kootenai counties Sunday afternoon.

Driver dies after crashing into train

A Post Falls man is dead after the car he was driving crashed into the side of a passing train northeast of Rathdrum early Sunday morning.

Albert P. Brunner, 53, was driving a 1993 Mitsubishi 3000 GT southbound on Ramsey Road near Diagonal Road about 12:43 a.m. He crashed though the crossing arms, which were in the down position, and into the side of an eastbound BNSF Railway train about 17 cars back from the train’s engine, according to a news release from the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.

A passing motorist reported finding the severely damaged car in the middle of Ramsey near the train crossing. The train’s operators were unaware of the accident and continued on for about 15 miles until being notified of the incident, the Sheriff’s Department said. Parts of Brunner’s vehicle were found still attached to the rail car when it stopped in Bonner County, the news release said.

Brunner was declared dead at the scene, and the accident remains under investigation.

UI grad student applications rise

MOSCOW, Idaho – University of Idaho officials said graduate student applications have increased 2 percent for the fall semester compared to last year.

The school also told the Moscow-Pullman Daily News that there is an increase in applications at the master’s and doctoral degree levels for the College of Science and the College of Engineering.

School officials say the increase in graduate applications is a result of the school’s efforts to recruit internationally.