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Cool-headed backpackers evacuate Alpine Lakes as fires close in

BACKPACKING — After reading my post this morning about fire-related closures affecting hikers in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness,  Stephanie Akker of Kennewick emailed me the photo (above) snapped Saturday from the Colchuck Lake area as she decided to evacuate during the night to safety. 

I was happy to see your article on-line as I have been scouring for more info since we backpacked out of Colchuck, in the dark, Saturday night. 

Attached is a photo of the fire from our campsite on the north end of Colchuck.  We day hiked into the Enchantments Saturday after camping at Colchuck Friday night. We chose to evacuate after watching the fire grow dramatically over the course of 24 hours and also considering the proximity to the parking lot. 

Yes, we had to forgo our coveted permit, but felt it better safe than sorry. 

Read on for her photo of Colchuck Lake, a scene that helps you understand why it was no easy decision to leave.

Fires restrict access to Alpine Lakes Wilderness, other areas

HIKING — Many backpackers with coveted permits for the prime September season in the Enchantment Lakes area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in northcentral Washington are finding their plans up in smoke.

Area includes Eightmile Road, Colchuck, Stuart, Eightmile, Caroline, and Trout lakes, and the Windy Pass portion of the Enchantment area in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness due to a fire burning Many Enchantment area overnight camping permits are cancelled. However, the Enchantment Basin itself remains open at this time with access via Snow Creek Trail. Please call the Wenatchee River Ranger Station for more information on which permits are cancelled.

See a photo and report from a backpacker who self-evacuated Colchuck Lake Saturday night as fires closed in.

Read on for the latest press release and details from the Wenatchee National Forest.

Boo Boo the bear may get back to the woods

WILDLIFE REHABILITATION — Boo Boo, the black bear cub found by fire crews with second degree burns on all four paws last month,  has been moved to a rehabilitation area in central Idaho.

Idaho Fish and Game biologist Jeff Rohlman picked up the young bruin today at the Humane Society shelter in Boise where he has been recuperating.

Rohlman took the bear to the Snowdon Wildlife Sanctuary in the mountains outside McCall. The sanctuary is dedicated to the care and rehabilitation of injured and orphaned wildlife. Since 1989 it has housed and cared for a range of large and small mammals and birds in distress from injury, loss of parents, or loss of habitat.

Boo Boo weighed in at 46 pounds today, up from just 23 pounds when Fish and Game wildlife veterinarian Mark Drew transferred the bear to the Idaho Humane Society on Aug. 31.

He will spend the first night in a pen about the size of a single-car garage, which is attached to a two-acre enclosure at the sanctuary. When released from the pen, he would be free to roam the enclosure.

If he continues to mend, he would be released to wild. Perhaps as soon as later this fall.

He was rescued August 26 by firefighters working on the Mustang Fire burning north of Salmon. His feet were badly burned, and he was treated initially at Idaho Fish and Game's Wildlife Health Lab in Caldwell.

The young bear has continued to improve. No infection in any of his foot pads has been detected despite second-degree burns on all four feet, Drew said.

Fire sweeps Banks Lake west side, burning at Grand Coulee

PUBLIC LANDS — Fire fighters have their hands full in forests and lowlands from blazes started by Saturday night lightning storms and fanned by Sunday's huge winds.

A Facebook friend in Wenatchee says the orange on the skyline is more than a little frightening.

At least four fires in the Coulee City-Grand Coulee-Almira area are prompting evacuations, with around 8,000 acres burned.

"Huge fires are burning here in Grand Coulee," reports angler Connie Mcquaid from her home at 10 p.m.

"The switchyard has had explosions — I've seen them. The whole west side of Banks Lake looks like it's on fire. Parts of Grand Coulee west of the canal are being evacuated. The air in town is unbreathable. They sky from my view is all orange."

Spokane burn ban in effect

We've been hearing a lot about raging wildfires across the country including Central Washington where hundreds have been evacuated.

Because of the hot and dry conditions, specified outdoor recreational fires, including campfires, have been restricted in the City of Spokane effective yesterday by order of the Spokane City Fire Marshal. The restriction will continue until further notice; such restrictions are subject to change depending on conditions.

Citizens still may use backyard barbecues, chimineas, portable outdoor fireplaces or other patio/deck warmers, as long as approved fuel is used. Approved fuel includes seasoned (clean and dry) firewood, briquettes, propane, or natural gas.

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 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.

‘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.

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.

Chevrolet Volt fire roars, fizzles

 

No one wants to drive a car with a reputation for catching fire after an accident. When a Chevrolet Volt caught fire three days after being destroyed in NHTSA crash testing a media storm and federal investigation soon followed. 

Journalists were quick to paint the bigger, scarier picture that the Volt fire brought into question the safety of all electric and hybrid-electric vehicles currently working their way into American driveways. The reason for this is the Volt, along with Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and others, all share one key breakthrough in electric vehicle technology: rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. 

Prior to the Chevy Volt fire mentioned above, the biggest threat to consumers’ acceptance of electric vehicles as a safe and practical alternative to gasoline powered cars was range anxiety, or the fear that electric cars driven too far from the nearest charging station will run out of power, stranding their passengers. 

The development of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries in cars such as the Volt helped significantly extend the range of plug-in electric vehicles and had the potential to play a huge role in calming range anxiety. 

Then the Volt caught fire three days AFTER crash testing in a NHTSA parking lot. People aren’t surprised when a gasoline-powered car catches fire in an accident, but the Volt fire was different; weird and creepy, like the ark of the covenant smoldering in a warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. 

Paranoia spewed from the press that automaker’s new electric vehicles could potentially be as dangerous as an elderly woman cooking over an open flame in a polyester top. 

Bob Lutz, who helped champion the Volt to production in 2007 and now consults for General Motors, sternly refuted the hoopla. 

"250,000 conventional gasoline-powered cars catch fire every year in the U.S. without any media panic," said Lutz. "Where is the outrage? Where are the congressional hearings?" (1)

In support of Lutz’s point, the NHTSA failed to follow GM’s policy of fully discharging the Volt’s battery after a serious crash, allowing a fluid leak to reach the battery electronics and ignite a fire. In a real-world scenario, first responders should be trained to discharge the battery of the Volt or any other electric car at the scene of an accident, preempting the threat of an eventual fire. 

Tesla for one has already worked with first responders to establish steps to safely handle crashed electric vehicles. Nonetheless, U.S. auto-safety regulators are currently examining the safety of lithium-ion batteries in all plug-in electric vehicles in the wake of the Volt crash test fire.

“I want to make this very clear: the Volt is a safe car,” Jim Federico, GM’s chief engineer, said in an e-mailed statement. “We are working cooperatively with NHTSA as it completes its investigation. However, NHTSA has stated that based on available data, there’s no greater risk of fire with a Volt than a traditional gas-powered car.” (2)

Aside from the Volt, the Nissan leaf went on sale in 2011 as the first mass-market plug-in electric car in United States. There hasn’t been a reported fire involving more than 8,000 Leafs on U.S. roads, Katherine Zachary, a spokeswoman for Nissan, said in an email. (2) 

“The Nissan Leaf battery pack has been designed with multiple safety systems in place to help ensure its safety in the real world. All of our systems have been thoroughly tested to ensure real-world performance,” she said. 

General Motors announced recently that adding a steel reinforcement to the steel structure around the batter back of the Volt and a small bracket on the battery coolant reservoir to stop possible leaks from reaching the battery should be the only changes that need to be made to the car. 

NHTSA has since crashed a Volt with these changes on December 22 and found the battery compartment was not penetrated and no coolant leakage occurred. To be on the safe side, NHTSA has kept an eye on the wrecked vehicle since the crash test and will continue to do so for another week. 

The agency said from the results of the test thus far GM’s changes to the Volt should take care of the issue. 

Both the Leaf and Volt received the NHTSA’s top crash-test rating this year. As automakers begin to expand their plug-in electric vehicle lineups in the months and years to come, we should be anxious to put anxieties new and old of the electric car behind us and embrace it as a major step towards loosening the world’s dependence on fossil fuel.

(1)http://www.detnews.com/article/20111216/OPINION03/112160340/1031/opinion03/Time-unplug-Volt-fire-hysteria
(2)http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-11/gm-volt-battery-fire-is-said-to-prompt-u-s-probe-into-electric-car-safety.html
(3) http://www.forbes.com/sites/joannmuller/2012/01/05/theres-nothing-wrong-with-the-chevy-volts-battery/
Picture: Robin Wulffson, M.D

Pot for homework-induced arthritis?

A medical marijuana patient contacted when a fire broke out at his Greenacres home told police he had been prescribed pot because of arthritis in his hand caused by "too much homework," authorities say.

 The 19-year-old man and his 22-year-old roommate had 27 marijuana plants at his father's home in the 2500 block of South Timberlane Drive, which they are legally able to have under the state's medical marijuana law.

The plants were not seized after the fire last Friday, and neither man was arrested, but Spokane Valley police Sgt. Dave Reagan sent out a news release today that said Detective Travis Hansen asked the men what their special ailments were because "they were so young and appeared to be fit and in good health."

In addition to the 19-year-old's reported homework-induced arthritis, the 22-year-old said he had severe pain in one of his feet. Reagan said suspicions were aroused when one of the tenants told a fire inspector had had "smoked a bowl" and left to get something to eat. 

But the fire does not appear to be caused by smoked marijuana, rather the 19-year-old may have discarded a cigarette in bark outside the home, said Bill Clifford, spokesman for the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

"He smokes a lot, both cigarettes and marijuana," Clifford said. "He reminded me of Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

Damage is estimated at $300,000, Clifford said. The home is insured.

The man's 53-year-old father suffered burns to right arm, neck and face while escaping the blaze, which began while he was downstairs watching TV. A smoke alarm alerted him to the blaze.

A neighbor also was treated for smoke inhalation he suffered while stopping the fire from spreading to his home.

Idaho hunters can exchange tags if fires prevent access

HUNTING — Fires burning in Idaho’s backcountry have state and federal land managers to close roads and trails in some areas, including the Idaho Panhandle.raised concerns about public safety and hunter access.

Those closures may affect access to some hunting units.

Idaho Fish and Game officials say they will not recommend closing hunts or altering season dates in response to fire restrictions. Most fires are not large enough to affect an entire hunt unit, they say.

Hunters affected by a fire closure can adjust their schedule to hunt later in the season or exchange general tags to hunt in a different area. But tags must be exchanged before the season begins.

Hunters with controlled hunt tags affected by a fire closure may exchange them for general season tags before the controlled hunt begins. But controlled hunt fees would not be refunded.

Fish and Game will consider requests for rain checks or refunds in the event that access to a hunting unit is blocked by fire. Hunters requesting a rain check will be required to submit their tags and permits with a letter describing the conditions of their request.

Rain checks would be evaluated case-by-case at the end of the hunting season. Rain checks will be valid in 2012 and offered only for the same species and hunt area as the hunter held in 2011.

Written requests should be sent to the license section at Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707 when the season is over.

For updates on fires and access restrictions, go online to the Forest Service fire incident website.

Fire activity picks up on national forests; check before heading out

PUBLIC LANDS — With scattered fires burning throughout the region, hunters and campgers should call ahead to Forest Service offices before heading out to national forests this week.

One friend planning a trip to Montana's Bitterroot Valley had to revise his plans when he called and learned that roads were closed to the trailhead for the lake he planned to fish.

Idaho Panhandle National Forests today are reporting that more than 70 fires hav ignited since Sept. 1 and seven lightning-caused fires are still active, ranging from 20 to more than 150 acres.

Read on for details on current fires burning on the Idaho Panhandle:

Niece found fit for trial in man’s death

ST. MARIES, Idaho (AP) — A psychologist has found a North Idaho woman is fit to stand trial in the shooting death of her uncle in May.

The Coeur d’Alene Press reports Daniel Hayes of Hayden Lake found 28-year-old Melisa R. Bates could both understand the charge against her and help her attorney with her defense.

Bates is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 43-year-old Robert D. Marek at his house eight miles south of St. Maries. Court records say Bates had been staying with Marek.

Benewah County Prosecutor Douglas Payne said Marek was shot with a handgun and beaten with a metal rod and an attempt was made to burn his body.

Bates is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 22 in St. Maries before Magistrate Patrick McFadden.

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.

CdA police officer saves family from fire

A Coeur d’Alene police officer saved a family of four from a structure fire early Friday.

The police department received a report of a structure fire about 4:33 a.m., according to a news release. Officer Gus Wessel was the first to arrive at the fire on West Vista Drive, where he found the home’s attached garage in flames.

Wessel entered the home and woke an adult female and three children and escorted them, along with the family pet, to safety, the news release said. He also moved the family’s car away from the fire to prevent damage to it.

Wessel has been full time with the Coeur d’Alene Police Department for three years, where he has been assigned to the patrol division.

Prior to his full-time employment with the department, Wessel worked as a bike patrol officer assigned to the downtown summer program.

Idaho murder suspect to get mental eval

A 26-year-old woman accused of killing her uncle in St. Maries, Idaho, will undergo a mental evaluation.

 Melisa R. Bates could be heard yelling uncontrollably from her holding cell upstairs from the Benewah County courthouse Wednesday, according to KHQ.

Bates was to be arraigned on a murder charge, but that has been postponed 30 days as she completed a mental health evaluation. Bates will be held at a mental health institution in Lewiston, KHQ reports.

Bates was arrested near Bayview Tuesday after deputies found the burned remains of her uncle, Robert Dean Marek, 43, while checking to see why he didn't show up for work.

A motive for the slaying has not been released.

Jury acquits man of house theft, arson

A jury acquitted a man accused of the theft and arson of his former landlord's Spokane home.

Stephen J. Czako, 26, was found not guilty after a trial before Superior Court Judge Tari Etizen.

Czako said he was buying the home at 4621 N. Post St. from Joanne Tucker; Tucker (pictured) says he forged her signature.

Investigators said Czako set the home on fire in October 2008, but jurors didn't buy the claim.

Czako was repsrented by Chris Phelps.

His sister, Shannon Czako, is scheduled to stand trial next month on charges attempted first-degree theft and official misconduct for allegedly using a notary on a document she knew was forged.

Past coverage: June 3, 2009: Suspicious blaze at center of house dispute

Arsonist pleads guilty after just 13 days

A longtime felon and litigation seeker faces 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges related to two arson fires in Spokane Valley.

Anthony W. Sotin, 42, was indicted by a grand jury just 13 days ago. He pleaded guilty this morning in U.S. District Court in Spokane to use of a fire to commit a federal felony and malicious use of property to damage property used in interstate commerce.

Sotin will remain in custody pending sentencing, which is scheduled for May 27. The first charge mandates 10 years in prison; the second by at least five years and no more than 20. 

The plea deal calls for prosecutors to recommend Sotin be sentenced to 120 months in prison and three years probation. It also drops one count of wire fraud, which carried a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison.

Sotin was accused of starting a fire in a building on Nora Avenue Feb. 9 and setting a car on fire Jan. 12, then filing a false insurance claim.

Sotin is well known by law enforcement and has filed more than 15 lawsuits against various government entities, including 12 in 1996 alone.

He currently has a lawsuit filed against the city of Spokane, alleging his rights were violated because he wasn't allowed to leave messages for a public defender representing him in a Municipal Court case.

Past coverage:

Feb. 19: Arrest made in building, vehicle fires

Aug. 8, 1997: Latest antics add to Sotin's long rap sheet

Trial begins in alleged house theft, arson

A man charged with the theft and arson of his former landlord's house is on trial in Spokane County Superior Court.

Lawyers gave opening statements this morning in the case of Stephen J. Czako, who is charged with first-degree theft and first-degree arson.

Czako, 26, said he was buying the home at 4621 N. Post St. from Joanne Tucker; Tucker (pictured) says he forged her signature. Investigators believe Czako set the home on fire in October 2008.

The case took months for fire and police to investigate and hinges on the authenticity of documents and handwriting samples.

The trial before Judge Tari Eitzen is expected to last into next week.

Steve Garvin is prosecuting the case. Stephen Czako is represented by Chris Phelps. His sister, Shannon Czako, is to stand trial next month on charges attempted first-degree theft and official misconduct for allegedly using a notary on a document she knew was forged.

Past coverage:

June 3, 2009: Suspicious blaze at center of house dispute

$250k bond for arson, child rape suspect

A child rape suspect pulled from his burning Chattaroy home this week remains jailed on $250,000 bail after his first court appearance Thursday.

David Wayne Jewell, 40, faces first-degree child molestation and first-degree arson charges after he allegedly tries to torch his home at 34124 N. Newport Highway when deputies arrived to investigate a child rape report about 1:20 a.m Wednesday.

Jewell lit the home on fire and was pulled to safety by deputies after wielding a knife and homemade flame thrower, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. He was shocked with a Taser after refusing to drop the items.

Jewell denied the rape allegation in interviews with detectives at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, where he was treated before being booked into jail.

Jewell appeared before Superior Court Judge Linda Tompkins Thursday via video from the jail.

$100k bond for arson suspects in murder

Two men who police believe helped a murder suspect burn his victim’s home were ordered to stay in jail on $100,000 bond today.

Detectives say Mark A. Hoffman, 23, told them he went to William F. Hanel’s home with Ryan D. Corkery, 27, (pictured) and knew Corkery was planning to burn the residence to hide evidence of a murder, according to court documents prepared by Spokane police.

Police say Hoffman identified Eric M. Andersen, 45, as an accomplice and told police he hadn’t stopped the men from burning the home, nor had he called police.

Andersen was arrested at Holy Family Hospital, where family said he was being treated for possible pneumonia. Andersen told police he knew Corkery and Hoffman but “denied being involved in the arson,” police wrote.

Corkery, who was identified by Hanel’s friends as his boyfriend, has said he killed Hanel, 56, Oct. 8 or Oct. 9 because Hanel molested him and a relative. Hanel’s body was discovered in his burning home at 12036 S. Player Drive on Oct. 12.

The three men remain in Spokane County Jail on first-degree arson charges. Corkery also is charged with first-degree murder.

Past coverage:

Oct. 14: Suspect: Sex abuse claim triggered slaying

Oct. 13: Man arrested for murder in Hangman Valley fire

Suspect: Sex abuse triggered slaying

A suspect in the murder of a Spokane man told investigators he beat and strangled the victim with an electrical cord after the man began talking about molesting a relative of the suspect, documents released today say.

 Ryan D. Corkery, 27, was ordered to stay in jail on $1 million bond after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court Thursday on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree arson.

Sheriff’s investigators say Corkery admitted killing William Frazier Hanel, 56, in Hanel’s home at 12036 S. Player Drive on Oct. 8 or Oct. 9 while the two were drinking.

Corkery said he returned to the home early Tuesday with two unnamed people and set Hanel’s home on fire, according to a probable cause affidavit prepared by Spokane County sheriff’s Detective Mike Ricketts. Corkery told KHQ in a jailhouse interview Thursday that Hanel, who was convicted in 1994 of of patronizing a juvenile prostitute. had molested him and a relative years ago.

Read my full story here.

Man accused of murder in Hangman fire

A felon already wanted by the state Department of Corrections was arrested today on murder and arson charges related to a suspicious fire near the Hangman Valley Golf Course. 

Ryan D. Corkery, 27, was detained at a North Hutchinson Road motel today, near where police found a car belonging to William Frazier Hanel.

Hanel, 56, was found dead in burning home at 12036 S. Player Drive early Tuesday.

Firefighters were called to the home at 7:11 a.m. after a neighbor saw smoke; they found Hanel’s lifeless body face down in the kitchen, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Read my full story here.

Firefighters sent to wrong home in fatal fire

Spokane firefighters were sent to the wrong address when responding to a fatal house fire early Sunday.

Investigators believe James L. Stowell, 46, died of smoke inhalation, but they’re still trying to determine what caused the fire at 1003 E. Ermina Ave., said Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer.

Initial response was delayed when Firefighters were dispatched to the wrong address but were rerouted before arrival.

They arrived at Stowell’s home at 1:22 a.m. and found it engulfed in flames; police already were on scene. The initial 911 call was made at 1:12 a.m.

The fire at the 700-square-foot home was under control within 15 minutes. Nearly 30 firefighters, three engines, two senior ladders and a heavy rescue rig battled the blaze.

Tip on text in arson fire gets teens $1,500

Two teenagers will receive $750 each today for tipping fire investigators to a text message that helped arrest five people, including a man now accused of murdering his pregnant girlfriend, for an arson fire at a Spokane Valley elementary school last June.

The fire, which began in a garbage can under a play area at Adams Elementary School, 14707 E. Eighth Ave., caused $1,500 in damage, according to the Spokane Valley Fire Department. 

Robbie W. Bishop, 20, is charged with second-degree arson; four girls also were arrested.

The NW Insurance Council and Arson Alarm Foundation are providing the rewards. Adams Elementary Principal Jeff Dufresne will be receiving the money on their behalf at a ceremony today at 9:30 a.m.

Bishop remains in jail on the arson charge as well as two counts of second-degree murder for the July 22, 2009, stabbing death of 33-year-old Robin M. Anderson, who was pregnant with Bishop’s child.

Bishop has mental health problems and was released from jail before the murder because Eastern State Hospital officials said they didn’t have room for him.

2 weekend fires were intentionally set

Two house fires on Saturday were intentionally set, Spokane fie officials announced today.

A fire at 407 E. Crown Avenue broke out just minutes after a fire a few blocks away at 1507 E. Everett Avenue.

The first fire began at shed and spread to the Everett Avenue home before fire crews knocked it down about 20 minutes later. A resident fled the home safely and was assisted by the Red Cross.

The fire caused significant damage to the home.

Investigators say both fires were man made.

Anyone with information is asked to call the fire department’s tip line at (509) 344-3473 (FIRE).

Now That’s Ironic…

Get this: While a group of Tokyo firefighters were out on a call, one of their colleagues was back at the station making Dinner for everyone. Well, the guy also got called out shortly after his buddies left, and in the process, he forgot to turn off the stove. Yup. The Station burned to the ground. Read this Yahoo Article here.

I don’t really have a question for this one, other than: Does anyone besides me think this is rather ironic?