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In brief: More charges likely over big wildfire

Tue., Aug. 12, 2014

More people are expected to be charged in the coming days with helping spread the Carlton Complex fire, Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said Monday.

As the largest wildfire in state history rapidly spread, some people apparently set their own “backfires” – small fires that create a buffer zone ahead of the wildfire. Some of those backfires then burned out of control.

Two people were arrested in July for setting fires that did not work and ended up, in one case, burning someone else’s property and, in another, almost trapping a group of firefighters, Rogers said.

“Somebody is going to get killed doing this,” Rogers told the Wenatchee World after the arrests. “Let the professionals deal with the fire.”

Radley Hastings, 62, of Chelan, was trying to protect his house near the Chelan County line when he set a backfire that went the wrong way, according to records. And Larry Smith, 63, of Twisp, is accused of setting a fire on Benson Creek Road to help a friend. Instead the fire jumped onto someone else’s property.

Both men were charged with arson.

“We have additional cases we are working on for other arson charges which occurred during the fire,” Rogers said.

Mechanical troubles halt Keller Ferry run

Just one year after its inaugural sailing, the MV Sanpoil was taken out of service on the Keller Ferry run on Monday because of unspecified mechanical problems.

The Washington state Department of Transportation said the free ferry north of Wilbur would not be running until further notice. There was no estimate of when repairs would be completed.

The ferry serves state Highway 21 and provides a link between Republic and the Colville Indian reservation, to points on the south side of Lake Roosevelt on the Columbia River.

The $9.5 million Sanpoil began service on Aug. 14, 2013. It replaced the smaller Martha S, which had served the route since 1948.

The closest alternate route for crossing the river is at Grand Coulee.

Suspect in killing of woman found dead

BELLINGHAM – A Coast Guardsman identified as a suspect in the slaying of a 59-year-old Washington woman has been found dead in an apparent suicide in a remote area near Show Low, Arizona, authorities said Monday.

The U.S. Marshals Service said deputy marshals located Michael G. Arnold, 33, of Boise, on Saturday at a family-owned Arizona cabin. Arnold had hanged himself, Deputy U.S. Marshal Frederick Freeman of Phoenix said in a statement. Deputy marshals saw what appeared to be messages spray-painted on the cabin’s exterior walls asking for forgiveness, Freeman added.

Police in Bellingham said they questioned Arnold last week in the Aug. 3 death of Abigail Gulotta. Her body was found in her apartment by a co-worker when she didn’t show up at her job as a hairdresser at a Bellingham-area salon.

Gulotta was found dead from massive head trauma, the Bellingham Herald reported.

By Aug. 6, when Arnold was brought in for questioning, Bellingham police said they considered him a “person of interest” in the death.

After several hours of questioning, detectives had insufficient evidence to arrest Arnold, “mainly due to forensic evidence that could not be processed in time” but his statements “made him a stronger suspect,” police Lt. Rick Sucee said.

Arnold was taken to a Coast Guard base in Seattle, but authorities say he drained his bank account and vanished. The Coast Guard immediately sought him on an absent without leave warrant and asked for help from the Marshals Service in locating him.

Arnold’s Coast Guard cutter had been docked in the Bellingham area for maintenance.

Otter that attacked swimmers is shot

SEATTLE – Wildlife officials in Washington said the otter that attacked a boy and his grandmother as they were swimming in a river has been tracked down and killed.

Capt. Alan Myers of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said Monday that federal officials shot the male otter in the Pilchuck River near the place where the attack took place at the end of July, about 30 miles northeast of Seattle.

Myers said officials are nearly certain they got the right otter because of its unusually aggressive behavior. Otters are more likely to avoid people than to attack them.

The otter that was shot Sunday afternoon was at least 4 feet long. A necropsy is being conducted to find out if some disease or injury may have contributed to his aggressive behavior.


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