The Spokane County Major Crimes Unit is investigating a mobile home fire in Chattaroy on Wednesday as a potential domestic violence assault.
A man and a woman were severely burned by a fire that began at about 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday on the 3100 block of East Chattaroy Road.
A firefighter with Fire District 4 was at the station when he heard an explosion at Chattaroy Valley Estates, the mobile home park across the street, Division Chief Howard Johnson said.
The home was engulfed in flames and destroyed in a matter of minutes, Johnson said.
The two patients were airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with severe burns covering most of their bodies, Johnson said.
Sgt. Doug Marske with Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said they received information that the fire was set intentionally. Detectives don’t know what may have prompted the dispute.
Deanna Moore was visiting her mother at the mobile home park when she saw the blaze. A propane tank was in the yard, spewing flames, she said. Moore said she saw the male victim collapsed in the yard, on fire, and the female victim running through the yard, her clothes on fire.
Election office starts mailing ballots
The Spokane County Elections Office on Wednesday began mailing out nearly 195,000 ballots for the Aug. 6 primary election.
On the ballot are races for city councils, school districts, fire districts, water districts and special purpose government services.
All ballots should be received by July 25. If voters have not gotten a ballot by then, they should contact the elections office at (509) 477-2320.
Ballots can be returned by mail or dropped into white election boxes at libraries, the Spokane Transit Authority Plaza or the Elections Office, 1033 W. Gardner Ave.
The last day to register to vote is July 29. Registration can be done at the elections office.
Post Falls mayor will not seek re-election
Post Falls Mayor Clay Larkin announced this week that he will not seek re-election and will retire at the end of his current term.
Larkin has been mayor for 12 1/2 years. Before that, he served five years on the City Council.
“When I retire in January, I will have held a city office for 18 years,” he said in a prepared statement. “I feel good about stepping down and letting someone else lead our city.”
Bear sighting spurs closure of trails
A bear lured to a sloppy campsite north of Sandpoint has prompted the Forest Service to close two popular hiking trails in the Selkirk Mountains.
The Idaho Panhandle National Forests on Monday posted a temporary closure on the Beehive and Harrison Lakes trails in the upper Pack River drainage after a bear was lured to a camp and made off with food that was not properly secured, as well as equipment.
The two trails and the surrounding area are closed to the public until further notice to ensure public safety, said Jason Kirchner, Forest Service spokesman in Coeur d’Alene.
To prevent these situations, the Panhandle forests require all food and beverages to be stored in bear-resistant containers when unattended or hung out of a bear’s reach.
The food storage order also applies to canned food, garbage, grease, processed livestock or pet food, and scented or flavored toiletries, Kirchner said.
Molestation suspect arrested, charged
A Spokane man was arrested on a charge of second-degree child molestation Sunday.
Kurtis J. Bunnell, 31, allegedly molested a 13-year-old girl three times, according to an affidavit. Bunnell said the contact was accidental and happened when he was playing with the victim, according to the document.
Bunnell was booked into Spokane County Jail. His bond is set at $20,000. His arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday.
Suspect allegedly used family’s money
A Spokane man extradited from the Republic of Georgia allegedly took $20,000 from a bank account he shared with his estranged wife to flee from prosecution for child molestation, according to court documents.
Charles A. Fletcher, 60, appeared in court Wednesday after being apprehended Monday in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Fletcher faces five charges of child molestation with three victims. Judge James Triplet set his bond at $500,000.
Fletcher allegedly molested the victims between 2005 and 2012, according to an affidavit. Fletcher left the country in May 2012.
Fletcher’s wife reported he took $20,000 from their bank account shortly before leaving.