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In brief: Body is found in Spokane River

Fishermen found a body submerged in the Spokane River around 11:30 Thursday morning.

They flagged down a runner with a cellphone, who called 911.

The body was found on the west bank of the river near the bridge at Spokane Falls Boulevard, near Gonzaga University’s baseball field.

It’s unclear whether the person is male or female or whether there was foul play. Spokane police are investigating the incident as suspicious, said Detective Lydia Taylor.

An autopsy is scheduled for today.

House approves tougher DUI law

OLYMPIA – Like the Senate did a day before, the House gave unanimous approval Thursday to tougher penalties for people who drive drunk or under the influence of drugs.

It requires anyone arrested for a second DUI charge be taken to jail, adds money to speed prosecutions and requires an interlock system to be installed on the suspect’s car within five days of release. It also sets up a test program for daily testing for alcohol and drugs, plus electronic monitoring of people convicted of multiple drunken-driving offenses as an alternative to incarceration.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, passed the House 92-0 after a 46-0 vote in the Senate. Tougher DUI standards was one of the priorities Gov. Jay Inslee had set for the special session of the Legislature. He called it “an important step in saving more lives.”

Suspect arrested in house burglaries

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and Spokane Police Department joined forces to arrest Derek A. Larson, 40, Thursday on four felony charges of unoccupied residential burglary.

Larson was arrested Thursday morning while allegedly breaking into an unoccupied home near 2100 E. Southeast Blvd., near Lincoln Park, according to a news release. Members of the two departments said they were watching Larson when he attempted to leave the residence carrying several pieces of artwork.

Larson allegedly broke into four unoccupied homes that were for sale, according to the release. Police believe he had also been stealing large appliances from each home.

Larson faces two charges of residential burglary, one charge of second-degree burglary and one charge of first-degree theft.

The regional Property Crimes Task Force, a collaboration of the Sheriff’s Office and the Police Department, executed several search warrants at Larson’s residence and storage units to locate the appliances. The group expects to file additional charges against Larson.

Fire burns house on lower South Hill

A fire caused serious damage to a lower South Hill home Thursday as the homeowner was outside on his porch.

Spokane firefighters responded just after noon to 4228 E. 16th Ave. to a report of flames showing from the roof, Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer said.

Firefighters found flames showing from all of the eaves of the home.

Compounding firefighting efforts were three or four layers of shingles, including old wooden shake shingles, that remained under the metal roofing. Crews were expected to take hours to make sure the fire smoldering in the shingles was out, Schaeffer said.

The homeowner, an elderly man using a walker, was outside when he noticed fire. He went in the home, turned off the breaker box and got out unhurt, Schaeffer said.

Markings on the rear of the home indicated that fire either started on the home’s exterior or possibly worked its way down from the attic. Investigators were on the scene to determine the cause, Schaeffer said.

The homeowner will be staying with family members, Schaeffer said.

Suspicious powder locks down prison

Talcum powder led to the lockdown of Airway Heights Corrections Center on Thursday.

At about noon Thursday, a guard discovered a suspicious package containing white powder, according to an Airway Heights Fire Department news release.

Crews from the Airway Heights Fire Department, Airway Heights Police Department, Spokane County Fire District 10 and city of Spokane Hazmat responded to the package. Radiation and illegal drug tests indicated it was harmless.

Glacier park hiker dies after fall

WEST GLACIER, Mont. – A Washington state man who was hiking alone on a closed trail in Glacier National Park has died after an apparent fall.

Park spokeswoman Denise Germann said the 64-year-old man likely slipped on snow still covering the Highline Trail, about a mile west of Logan Pass. The trail has not opened for the summer because of the snow danger.

Park dispatchers received a call from a ranger requesting emergency assistance at about 3:40 p.m. Wednesday. The ranger administered CPR and used a defibrillator with the help of bystanders, but they were unable to resuscitate the man. He died at the scene.

The man’s body was transferred to the Flathead County coroner. The man’s name was being withheld while family members could be notified.

The fall is still being investigated.