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Suspected arson fires continue to flare

Fire investigators believe that the high number of brush fires spotted lately are the work of an arsonist. The fires are within Fire District 8 and there has been more than two dozen of them. Scott Maben wrote today's story on the fires - please keep an eye out for anything suspicious and call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233 with any reports. You can also contact Fire District 8 directly. 

Suspected van burner leaves trail of hard lemonade for police

A 60-year-old Spokane man was arrested on suspicions of arson after investigators found empty cans of Mike's Hard Lemonade at the scene of a scorching van and in the man's vehicle.

Steven Klemz was booked into Spokane County Jail early Thursday morning facing charges of arson and malicious mischief. Police were initially called to a home in the 6900 block of North G Street on Wednesday night around 10 p.m., according to court documents, after a home owner and Stemz got into an argument about yard work. An officer asked Stemz to leave, and he complied.

About two hours later, the home owner called police to say a van outside her home had been set ablaze and the tires of her nearby Chevy sedan slashed. The hoses in the yard had also been cut to prevent her from dousing the flames and the area was soaked in gasoline, she told investigators.

A neighbor reported hearing a bang shortly before midnight, shortly before the fire was reported. The neighbor also reported seeing Klemz in the yard. Found in a van nearby, Klemz denied involvement in the fire, but police found an empty Mike's Hard Lemonade can matching those found near the scene of the cut hoses and an empty gas can near the site of the fires.

Klemz's criminal history in Spokane County includes a burglary conviction in the 1970s, according to court records.

Officer Faced Knife Wielder Before

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At 1:13 p.m. Friday, April 26, 2013, Huckleberries Online posted this video of Officer Spencer Mortensen successfully arresting an arson suspect who pulled a knife on him near Kootenai Health the previous night. Coeur d'Alene Police have identified Mortensen as the officer involved in the fatal shooting of a Dalton Gardens man with a knife Sunday. You can see the report of the April 26 post below.

A Coeur d'Alene officer encountered an uncooperative suspect in a possible arson at 9:25 p.m. Thursday who pulled a knife on him. Following is part of the news release circulated by Sgt. Christie Wood this afternoon:

Officer Mortenson approached Richman and asked for his ID. He immediately became uncooperative and used profanity toward the officer. He became aggressive and stated he had a knife. Richman pulled a dark colored 3” blade knife out of his pocket. Officer Mortensen pulled his service revolver and issued several commands for Richman to drop the knife. At one point he dropped the knife on the ground in front of him but refused to move away from it. It appeared to the officer that Richman was considering picking it up again. Additional officers arrived on scene with a less lethal shotgun. They gave commands for Richman to get on the ground and he eventually complied. Full report on CPD Facebook page here.

Thoughts?

Suspects in Emmet church arsons: Convicted killer and four-time arsonist

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: EMMETT, Idaho (AP) — The Gem County Prosecutor has filed criminal charges against two men accused of intentionally setting fire to a pair of Emmett churches last month. One of the suspects charged Wednesday was convicted of killing his adoptive parents in 1989. Prosecutor Richard Linville charged 41-year-old Bradley Thomasson and 45-year-old William Dorahush Jr., with two counts of first-degree arson. Both were also charged with burglary and theft. Investigators say the men are responsible for the April 27 blazes that damaged Community Bible Church and First Baptist Church. Records show Thomasson spent 22 years in prison for killing his adoptive parents in Nez Perce County in 1989. Dorahush has a criminal record that includes four convictions for arson. Both churches are blocks from downtown Emmett and suffered extensive fire, smoke and water damage.

Vacant house burns again

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews responded to the fourth fire to break out in a vacant house at 806 N. Park Road Wednesday night just after 8:30 p.m. The first crews on the scene found 30-foot high flames shooting out of the roof and heavy fire in the front and the back of the house, said Assistant Fire Marshall Bill Clifford in a press release.

It appears to be an arson fire, Clifford said. The home has been vacant for several years and fire crews have responded to three other fires there. The home is now a total loss, he said. Anyone with information on how the fire started is asked to call the department at 928-1700. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Arson targets Browne’s Addition garbage can

A garbage can in Browne’s Addition was the target of about four fires starting on Saturday morning.

Ray Ekins lives nearby and was walking his dog Duchess around 7 a.m. when he saw the first set of flames inside the barrel at Second Avenue and Chestnut Street. The same garbage can was on fire again about an hour later, he said.

"Poor garbage can," Ekins said. He ended up calling 911 to report three of the fires.

Fire crews from Station 4 kept responding to the reported garbage fires and a Spokane Police officer parked nearby to keep an eye on the can, Spokane Police Sgt. Dan Ervin said.

The officer saw a man, later identified as Philip B. Lewis, 47, walk up to the can and allegedly light it on fire around 4 p.m, Ervin added.

Officers took Lewis into custody for two counts of second-degree arson and the fire was extinguished.

Volunteer firefighter arrested for arson while fighting wildfire he’s accused of setting

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― Officials in Boise County say they've arrested an 18-year-old volunteer firefighter suspected of igniting a blaze that destroyed one home and is threatening about 100 other residences. Authorities identified the suspect Tuesday as Nathanial Fay Bartholomew. He was arrested on a felony arson charge for allegedly causing the Karney Fire that has so far burned 250 acres in the Robie Creek area of the Boise National Forest. Forest spokesman David Olson says the fire started late Monday afternoon. About a dozen residences were evacuated Monday night while additional homes received evacuation orders Tuesday morning. Sheriff's officials said Bartholomew lives in the area. Investigators say it appears the fire was set some in pine cones and other fuel at the side of a road then spread to a nearby home.

Meanwhile, KTVB-TV is reporting that Bartholomew was arrested while actively fighting the fire; that under questioning, authorities said he confessed to intentionally starting it; and that the apparent motive was to get the attention of his father, a firefighter; you can read their full report here.

Ex-Shock player in solitary confinement

Judy Reisner wants her son, Kevin Ellison, to get mental health treatment, but he sits in the Spokane County Jail. (SRPhoto/Dan Pelle)

A former pro football player arrested for arson in June remains in solitary confinement at the Spokane County Jail, and his mother says his mental health issues will worsen without treatment.

Kevin Marcus Ellison, 25, who was a starting linebacker and defensive back for the Spokane Shock arena football team, has twice been denied release from jail for mental health treatment. His lawyer appealed U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno’s last decision, but U.S. District Court Judge Lonny Suko rejected the appeal Aug. 1, citing in part an altercation Ellison had with jailers last month.

Ellison’s mother, Judy Reisner, traveled from Los Angeles to Spokane to visit Ellison in jail on Wednesday. He’s not doing well, she said.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

June 20: Kevin Ellison to stay in jail without bail

June 14: Shock player says God told him to start fire

Watch me talk about this story with KHQ's Dave Cotton:

Four teens charged with arson

Four teenagers suspected of setting 20 arson fires since the end of June behind businesses in the area of Sprague Avenue and Sullivan Road and at Central Valley High School were arrested this week. All the fires were set in Dumpsters, trash cans, recycling bins and recycling donation boxes.

“All of these were late night, very early morning fires,” said Spokane Valley Fire Department Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford. “Sometimes there were as many as three fires in one night.”

The incident at the school involved six garbage cans set on fire at 3:22 a.m. on Sunday. Most of the Dumpsters and other containers were destroyed, Clifford said. Their value is estimated at more than $16,000.

All four teens are facing second-degree arson charges and have been booked into the Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center.

Kevin Ellison to stay in jail without bail

A pro football player who claims God told him to start a fire at his apartment complex in Liberty Lake will remain in jail amid concerns about his mental health.

Kevin Marcus Ellison, 25, who was dismissed from the Spokane Shock arena football team after his arrest June 14, repeatedly claimed to be Jesus Christ, including to an elderly woman who was at the hospital when Ellison was treated for smoke inhalation, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Aine Ahmed.

"He may have some mental issues," Ahmed said.

Ellison also told Shock general manager Ryan Rigmaiden "that he was Jesus Christ, and that he was part of the rapture, and that God told him to start the fire," Ahmed said. "He did not believe it (the fire) was going to harm him because God told him he'd protect him."

Ellison told Rigmaiden he started the fire with a marijuana blunt.

Ellison, a former standout defense back for the University of Southern California Trojans, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a grand jury indictment charging him with malicious use of fire to damage commercial property. He faces five to 20 years in prison if convicted.

His public defender, Kim Deater, asked for Ellison to be allowed to leave jail and live with his mother and brother in Los Angeles, though she said they wants him to undergo mental health treatment.

"They think that might be an issue," Deater said.

Deater described Ellison as "a good friend, a good teammate, a good son, a good player."

She said his success in football shows he can work toward a goal with a large group of people.

"That takes cooperation, that takes a bond, and that takes character," Deater said.

She also said Ellison did not tell the elderly woman at the hospital that he was Jesus - he simply grasped her hand and prayed with her.

But Imbrogno ordered Ellison to stay in the Spokane County Jail after Ahmed described a series of bizarre behavior that included statements from a Shock dancer who said she fears Ellison.

"She became afraid of Mr. Ellison after he texted her specifically that he was Jesus Christ," Ahmed said.

The woman, who was not identified, also said Ellison asked her to marry him just moments after meeting her.

He said Ellison's roommate, Chris Tucker, told investigators that Ellison told him he'd been Baptized just a few days before the fire. Tucker also said Ellison had offered him Vicodin to ease his pain while at an away game in Chicago recently.

It was Tucker who first realized there was a fire in the apartment he shared with Ellison.

The defensive lineman for the Shock told investigators he first thought the smoke was from burning food. He even took the batteries out of the smoke detector in his bedroom before he realized the fire was coming from Ellison's room, Ahmed said. He alerted Ellison to the fire, but Ellison told him "I'm good." and didn't leave.

Ellison escaped the fire by jumping from a window of the third-floor apartment. The fire caused about $100,000 in damage. Ahmed emphasized that children live next door to Ellison's apartment.

Ellison was drafted in the sixth round by the San Diego Chargers in 2009. He was released by the team following a May 2010 arrest in San Diego on a controlled-substance charge after police reportedly found 100 Vicodin tablets in his car without a prescription. The charges was dropped.

Ellison joined the Seattle Seahawks but was released shortly before the 2010 season opener.

Shock Player: God Said To Start Fire

A pro football player who leapt from his burning third-floor apartment in Liberty Lake Thursday said he started the blaze with a marijuana blunt because God told him to, authorities say. Kevin Marcus Ellison, 25, a starting linebacker/defensive back for the Spokane Shock arena football team, initially told firefighters that he’d been smoking in bed, but evidence collected at the scene didn’t match that explanation, said Spokane Valley Fire Marshal Kevin Miller. Ellison was arrested during a follow-up interview at Deaconess Medical Center where he was being treated for smoke inhalation. “We were looking for smoking materials,” Miller said. “We ruled out any accidental cause”/Nina Culver, Meghann Cuniff & Jim Meehan, SR. More here. (SR photo)

Question: Do you believe Ellison that God told him to start the apartment fire with a marijuana blunt?

Shock player: God told me to start fire

A pro football player who leapt from his burning third-floor apartment in Liberty Lake Thursday said he started the blaze with a marijuana blunt because God told him to, authorities say.

 Kevin Marcus Ellison, 25, a starting linebacker/defensive back for the Spokane Shock arena football team, initially told firefighters that he’d been smoking in bed, but evidence collected at the scene didn’t match that explanation, said Spokane Valley Fire Marshal Kevin Miller.

Read the rest of the story here.

Serial burglar leads to 7 more arrests

Investigators arrested seven people while searching three locations last week connected to suspected serial burglar Dean M. Blackford.

The properties at 1928 W. Glass Ave., 12607 N. Freya, and 7722 N. Altamontwere identified after detectives talked to Blackford about his burglary ring.

Large amounts of stolen property, from motorcycles to guns to Oxy-Acetylene tanks were located. Detectives seized more than 3 1/2 ounces of meth and some marijuana.

The investigation is ongoing and more charges are expected.

Arrested at the locations for meth possession were Steven R. Vandinter, 41; Lindsey M. Pearson, 22; Kevin M. Heaton, 35; Randy E. Hewson, 25; and Danica M. Wood, 27.

Michael Thorne, 36, was arrested on six felony warrants.

Jesse T.J. Gust, 26, was arrested on a warrant for arson. Gust was identified as a suspect in the arson fire of a truck that was part of a love triangle involving meth addicts.

A man first identified as suspect, Jesse J. Icard, was cleared of wrongdoing and his charges have been dismissed. Witnesses appear to have mistaken Icard for Gust, according to new court documents.

‘Middle-finger salute’ preceded fire

A man accused of trying to light his apartment complex on fire gave a surveillance camera the middle-finger salute before doing so, fire officials allege.

Ian W. Godfrey, 29, said he was angry with a flier being distributed at the HiFumi En Apartments, 926 E. 8th Ave., when he lit one on fire and walked through the building, according to the Spokane Fire Department.

The smoke triggered the apartment's overhead sprinklers. Fire officials suspected arson, and the apartment manager recognized Godfrey from the surveillance video.

Godfrey was arrested that day for attempted first-degree arson. He was released on his own recognizance after appearing in Superior Court Wednesday.

Boy faces arson charge for house fire

A 13-year-old boy has been arrested allegedly setting fire to a vacant home in north Spokane last month.

The boy was booked into Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center after being arrested at Glover Middle School. He was to appear before a judge on Monday, officials said.

Investigators with the Spokane Fire Department say the boy confessed to setting fire to a home at 4218 N. Ash St. on March 30. Crews quickly extinguished the blaze, which was confined to one bedroom and the roof area above that room. The rest of the home suffered extensive heat and smoke damage.

The suspect faces a charge of first-degree arson.

Reward targets truck fire arson suspect

A man suspected of setting fire to a truck in exchange for methamphetamine as part of a love triangle has a reward being offered for tips that lead to his capture.

Jesse James Icard, 43, is wanted on an arson charge for burning a 1975 Ford truck outside the Maple Tree Motel, 4824 E. Sprague Ave., on Feb. 6.

Police believe Odean B. Chappel, 44, gave Icard methamphetamine in exchange for burning the truck with a Molotov cocktail. Chappel was upset with the truck's owner, Donald S. Goergette, for staying with his ex-girlfriend.

Chappel remains jailed on $50,000 bond for arson and harassment charges. Icard, 5-foot-8 and 135 pounds, is wanted on a $30,000 warrant.

Crime Stoppers on Thursday offered a reward for tips that lead to his arrest.

Icard has a 24-year criminal history that includes convictions for vehicular assault. He last gave an address on Highway 231 in Springdale.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Fire fueled by Molotov cocktail, meth offer

A truck fire outside an East Sprague Avenue motel was spurred by a lover's triangle and fueled by not just a Molotov cocktail but the promise of methamphetamine in return.

Donald S. Georgette was staying at the Maple Tree Motel, 4824 E. Sprague Ave., with a woman who was trying to end her relationship with Odean B. Chappel, 44, when Georgette received threatening text messages from Chappel around Feb. 5, according to court records filed last week.

Georgette's 1975 Ford truck was set on fire Feb. 6 between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.

A woman who was staying in a shed at 1828 E. Riverside Ave., told fire investigators two men prepared a Molotov cocktail there using a beer bottle, rag and gasoline while they discussed doing a job for Chappel, documents say.

One of those men told investigatorshe later saw Chappel give the other man, Jesse James Icard, 43, methamphetamine as a payment for burning the truck.

Chappel has been arrested and is due in court today on arson, harassment and manufacture of an incendiary device charges.

Icard still is at large.

Investigators: Fire that razed two business likely arson

Fire investigators say a fire that destroyed a helmet business and a vacuum cleaner business Friday in Coeur d'Alene was likely caused by arson.

Investigators found a gas can under a desk in the building housing Helmet Outlet USA, the Coeur d’Alene Press reports. The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department stated that Fire Marshal Jeryl Archer II determined that gasoline had been poured on the desk before the fire started.  

The Friday night blaze also destroyed a Kirby vacuum business located in the same building.

Michael Murphy, who owns the building and the helmet business, said both are considered a total loss.

Cigar leads to arrest in July burglary

A cigar left at a burglary scene last summer led detectives on Wednesday to arrest a 21-year-old man as a suspect.

DNA on the cigar that was sent to the state crime lab matched DNA that Trevor Codi Frantz provided when he was convicted of a felony first-degree theft in April 2010, according to court documents.

Detectives seized the cigar while investigating a burglary in the 8500 block of East Cataldo Avenue in Spokane Valley July 30. They believe the burglars used the cigar to try to light the home on fire.

A career criminal now serving life in prison, Larry A. Powell, fired shots at a neighbor who tried to stop the burglary. Powell was arrested shortly after the shooting. He already was wanted for not showing up for the end of his trial for a different robbery case.

Frantz was booked into jail Wednesday about 1 p.m. on charges of attempted first-degree arson and first-degree burglary.

Breakfast Nook Arson Try Fails

A popular midtown breakfast and lunch spot was the target of an arsonist sometime Sunday, reports the Coeur d'Alene Police Department. City fire and police units responded at 4:45 a.m. to a report of a structure fire at The Breakfast Nook on Fourth Street. Officers arrived on the scene first and made contact with the owner Paul Wiles who was opening up the business for the morning. Wiles noticed a strong odor when he opened the rear door and called 911. No one was inside the building at the time of the call/Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Reaction?

Alleged ‘10 murder accomplice charged

William F. Hanel's burned body was found inside this home on Oct. 12, 2010, after firefighers responded to a blaze there. (SRPhoto/Jonathan Brunt)

A man accused of helping a killer torch his victim's home in 2010 is wanted by police.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that lead to the arrest of Eric Andersen, 46, whose last known home address was in Grant County.

Detectives believe Andersen helped Ryan D. Corkery, 28, burn William Frazier Hanel's home at 12036 S. Player Drive on Oct. 12, 2010.

Corkery strangled Hanel, 56, to death with an electrical cord a couple days earlier and enlisted the help of Andersen and Mark A. Hoffman, 24, to cover the crime, prosecutors say.

Andersen was arrested a week after Hanel's body was found in the burning home, but prosecutors moved to dismiss the charges about two months later.

Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy said today that he filed charges again on Jan. 18 after a new witness became available. He declined to comment further.

Corkery, who claimed Hanel molested a relative, was sentenced in December to 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. Hoffman was sentenced in January 2011 to six months in jail for first-degree rendering criminal assistance and residential burglary.

Andersen is wanted on a $40,000 warrant charging him with first-degree arson, residential burglary and first-degree rendering criminal assistance. His last known address is in the 100 block of N.W. Quincy Place in Soap Lake.

Anyone with information on Andersen's current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit tips online.

Police: Man tried to light wife on fire

An unemployed Dalton Gardens man allegedly doused his wife with gasoline and tried to light her on fire during a dispute at their home last weekend.

 Daniel Joe Zehm, 52, of 6103 15th St., was taken into custody by Kootenai County sheriff's deputies following an altercation that began Saturday night and culminated with the alleged attempt to incinerate Sondra Zehm, 58.

According to sheriff's reports, the argument began when Daniel Zehm told his wife he thought a nurse at his mother's assisted living place was attractive.

Daniel Zehm allegedly pinned his wife on their bed and threatened to kill her, her dog and her family. He then drenched his wife with a bucket of gasoline when she had her back to him while making coffee the following morning.

Sondra Zehm, who deputies say still smelled of gasoline after a shower, said that her husband was flicking the red lighter she'd given him to light a fire in his shop as he moved toward her.

Zehm was arrested on an attempted murder charge, but it was dismissed today in Kootenai County District Court. He was released from jail on $200,000 for felony charges of burglary and aggravated battery.

Fire at Wal-Mart leads to arson arrest

A man was arrested on a felony arson charge recently for allegedly lighting a fire at the Airway Heights Wal-Mart using sanitation wipes.

Stephen D. Rye, 55, was captured on surveillance video lighting the fire about 4:45 a.m. on Friday and watching it burn until Wal-Mart employees arrived to put it out, according to court documents prepared by Spokane County sheriff's detectives.

Rye was also seen taking the sanitation wipes, which are 65 percent alcohol, from a dispenser at Wal-Mart, lighting them on fire and kicking it down an aisle, igniting Wal-Mart fliers that were on the floor, police allege.

A motive for the alleged crime is unclear. Rye spent the weekend in jail and appeared in Superior Court Monday on a first-degree arson charge.

New charges in Forker Road homicide

The girlfriend of jailed Hells Angel sergeant-at-arms Ricky Warren Jenks has been charged with three felonies for her alleged role in the murder of a 22-year-old man whose body was found in the back of his burning car in April.

Britney Bjork, 30, is accused of helping burn Nicholas J. Thoreson's car and driving murder suspects Taylor J. Wolf, 20; Justice E.D Sims, 19; and Breeanna C. Sims, 20; from the scene at Forker Road near Bigelow Gulch. Thoreson is pictured left; Wolf is pictured lower right.

In addition to first-degree rendering criminal assistance and second-degree arson, Bjork is charged with conspiracy to commit perjury in the first-degree for allegedly helping Wolf craft false statements.

She pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Spokane County Superior Court and was allowed to stay out of jail pending trial. She declined comment today after Jenks was sentenced in U.S. District Court to two years in prison.

Wolf had been staying at Jenks and Bjork’s home at the Knotty Pines Cottages, 13615 E. Trent Ave., since before Jenks’ arrest on federal gun charges in March, according to court documents.

Detectives Bjork sent Wolf a text message early April 13 that said to tell a friend "that everything is fine that you got lost and stranded. you thought you were around bigalow but really you were by otis orchards. clear the fact that you were anywhere near that area!"

Wolf talked to Bjork over the phone from jail after his arrest. Detectives listened to the calls and say Bjork told him, "You've been with me…this whole…time," to which Wolf responded, "I know, I never left your side."

But detectives say Wolf also told Bjork on April 22 he was going to shoot Thoreson but “I couldn’t do it, so me and Justice did it together,” according to court documents, citing recorded phone conversations. “But we had gloves on and stuff.”

Wolf and the Simses are charged with aggravated first-degree murder, among other charges, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison because prosecuters are not seeking the death penalty.

Also charged in the case is the Simses' half-brother, who pleaded guilty in juvenile court to threatening a witness in the case. The teen is not being named because he was charged as a juvenile.

Emily K. Karlinsey, 19, who is accused of making threatening phone calls to a witness, is set to go to trial in Superior Court.

Past coverage:

May 20: Sibling murder suspects plead not guilty

May 3: Homicide victim remembered in obituary

Arson and murder suspects arrested

In two separate incidents yesterday, police arrested a 15-year-old boy suspected of setting multiple arson fires and a 22-year-old man suspected in a triple murder outside Lodge Grass, Mont., on the Crow Indian Reservation.

Sheldon B. Chase was arrested during a traffic stop near the Spokane Valley Mall only a few hours after local law enforcement received a wanted flyer for the murder suspect. Click here for more details.

Crews from the Spokane Valley Fire Department responded to two arson fires between midnight and 9 a.m. on Wednesday. Three dumpsters were reported on fire behind a strip mall on the northwest corner of Sprague and Evergreen at 12:41 a.m. They were quickly put out and there was little damage. A caller reported at 9 a.m. that bushes were set on fire near the Numerica Credit Union at 14610 E. Sprague just a few blocks away.

The 15-year-old admitted setting the fires and also admitted to stealing a bicycle in Liberty Lake, said assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford. He will be charged with four counts of second degree arson and one count of third degree theft. Anyone in Liberty Lake missing a 10-speed bike can call the Fire Department at 928-1700 to describe it.

Animal rights activists claim credit for blaze at fireworks and fur business

That fire early this morning at Rocky Mountain Fireworks & Fur Co. that temporarily shut down an Idaho highway? AP reporter John Miller is reporting that an animal rights group has claimed responsibility for the blaze.

An e-mail from anti-fur activists described details of the fire, Miller reported; agents for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are leading the investigation. A request for comment was forwarded to the federal agency's Seattle office.

The fire was contained without significant damage to fireworks or fur articles, according to the Middleton Fire Department. It fire closed down Idaho Highway 30 as well as a U.S. Interstate 84 exit; there were no injuries. Business owner Dennis Heck didn't answer a phone call. Heck sells trapping supplies and buys bobcat pelts; click below for Miller's full report.

Two 8-year-old boys from Pocatello charged with arson in wildfire

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) — Two 8-year-old Pocatello, Idaho, boys are charged with third-degree arson for a fire that destroyed a house and burned more than 1,200 acres of public and private land. Bannock County Deputy Prosecutor Ian Service says the boys are accused of starting the so-called Drive-In fire on Aug. 15 in Pocatello. He says they were playing with matches and a lighter, and had ignited and extinguished several smaller fires before one burned out of their control. Officials estimate more than $750,000 was spent fighting the blaze. Service says he doesn't intend to lock up the boys but send a message that playing with fire has consequences and can cause serious damage. Third-degree arson is a felony, but the punishment for juveniles is less severe than adults.

Burning stolen cars spark brush fire

Two stolen cars were set on fire in the Indian Trial area Wednesday night, sparking a small brush fire.

Spokane firefighters responded to reports of flames and explosions from a remote forested hilltop east of Indian Trial Road.

Crews accessed the area through gates and narrow trail and found the car fully engulfed, with flames spreading to less than an acre of land.

The Spokane Fire Department assisted Fire District 9 in controlling the blaze. No injures were reported.

One car, a 2000 VW Passat, was stolen from a home in the 12000 block of North Hemlock Street on Sunday or Monday.

The other, a 2010 Ford Escape, was stolen from the 600 block of East Lakeview Lane on Friday or Saturday.

Both were taken from garages after the owners left the keys inside, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

The burned cars are pictured courtesy KHQ-TV.

Cops tell gang not to retaliate for arson

WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) — Wenatchee police have contacted a gang that appeared to be the target of a fire that killed two children and warned it not to retaliate.

Sgt. John Kruse says the gang was told retaliation would be very detrimental to solving the homicide.

Chelan County Coroner Wayne Harris says the boys, 4 and 6 years old, died of smoke inhalation.

The Wenatchee World reports the fire is being investigated as arson.

Police say the duplex has been a target of gang activity in the past, but no one in the house at the time of Thursday's fire is believed to be a gang member.

The boys' father suffered serious burns trying to save them and is in a Seattle hospital.

Fire suspects left ‘unintended’ message

An "unintended" voice mail left on an arson victim's cell phone helped identify suspects in a Spokane Valley house fire last week.

 The home's renter, Pavel Aleksandrov, said he received what appeared to be an unintentional voice mail on July 23 in which he could hear Sergey A. Kravchenko, 27; Maksim P. Oboznyy, 21, and another man talking about how they should go to his home at 4418 E. 15th Ave., according to court documents.

The rental home was set on fire shortly after, causing $100,000 in damage, and Aleksandrov discovered his television and laptop computer had been stolen. Aleksandrov told police he was the foreman of a construction company in Louisiana in 2009 when the company could not make payroll.

Kravchenko also worked for the company, and he and another employee were upset about what they claimed were lost wages, according to court documents.

Kravchenko and Oboznyy were arrested Friday, and suspect Roman I. Ryakhovskaya, 21, of Nine Mile Falls, turned himself in Saturday. Now Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help arrest a fourth suspect, Aleksander N. Shingarey, 23, (pictured) who is charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree arson.

The three others suspects also are charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree arson; Ryakhovskaya also is charged with first-degree arson; Kravchenko and Oboznyy also are charged with residential burglary and second-degree theft for allegedly stealing a TV and computer before Ryakhovskaya allegedly set house on fire.

A neighbor identified the suspects through photo montages and said he'd fired a shot out his window to try to scare them away after they told him to mind his own business, according to court documents.

Shingarey, who was arrested last summer after a shooting on the South Hill, last gave an address in the 4000 block of East 23rd Avenue in Spokane.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters can remain anonymous.