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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘Moderate’ quake hits SW Montana

Compiled from staff and wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Helena

An earthquake measuring a magnitude 5.6 struck southwestern Montana shortly after 10 p.m. Monday, rattling windows, nerves and buildings, but there were no immediate reports of any serious damage or injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was centered about 13 miles northwest of Dillon, but residents across a wide swath of Montana, Idaho and Washington reported feeling the temblor at about 10:10 p.m. Reports came in from as far away as Great Falls, more than 200 miles to the north, and Billings, 250 miles to the east. Some residents reported two distinct tremors, several seconds apart, lasting about eight to 10 seconds in all.

A dispatcher in Benewah County, Idaho, said the phones were “ringing off the hook,” from residents in Clarkia, Parkline, Indian Mountain and St. Joe City inquiring about what they just felt.

In Dillon, Beaverhead County Commissioner Mike McGinley said there were scattered reports of broken glass and other minor damage around town, but nothing significant.

“We’ve got fire and ambulance personnel standing by” just in case, he said Monday night.

The USGS categorized the earthquake as “moderate.” Initial reports said it occurred about 25 miles underground, but the USGS later said the quake was at a much more shallow depth – about three miles below the surface.

Duncan’s preliminary hearing delayed

The preliminary hearing for Joseph E. Duncan III has been rescheduled to Aug. 9 at 9 a.m.

Duncan, who is being held without bail at the Kootenai County Jail, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree kidnapping.

Duncan is accused of killing Brenda Groene, her 13-year-old son, Slade Groene, and Mark McKenzie with a hammer and then abducting and sexually molesting Brenda Groene’s two youngest children. Duncan was arrested July 2 while sitting at Denny’s restaurant in Coeur d’Alene with Shasta Groene. The body of her brother, Dylan, was later recovered in Montana.

The Kootenai County prosecuting attorney requested more than one day for the hearing, which was initially scheduled for Wednesday, and the August date was the earliest available.

Windows shattered in car carrying 5 girls

Spokane Police are seeking information into a report of several shots fired at a car in the 3700 block of East Second Avenue at 12:45 a.m. Monday.

Officers responded and found five teenage females in a white 1994 Chevrolet Lumina at Freya Street and Second Avenue.

The 16-year-old driver said she had gone to pick up four friends at a party in that block. As soon as they got in the car, the windows began breaking and the driver sped away, police spokesman Dick Cottam said in a press release.

Officers found that three of the car’s four windows had been shattered and the females inside were covered with glass but otherwise uninjured.

However, the females were “uncooperative,” and the officers were not able to learn what happened, Cottam said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the TIPS line at (509) 242-8477.

Pileup of seven cars closes I-90 in Valley

A seven-car pileup briefly closed westbound lanes of Interstate 90 Monday in the Spokane Valley.

Trooper Jerry Walker said the accident happened about 5:30 p.m., near a construction area east of the Pines Road exit. Both lanes were closed for about 10 minutes, and it took about 1 ½ hours to clear the area, Walker said.

Walker said the lead vehicles were coming to a stop because traffic was stopped in front of them. That caused a chain reaction collision, involving one pickup truck and six cars. A Dodge Intrepid got lodged under a Hyundai Elantra.

Five vehicles were towed from the scene. Brian Donnell, 30, of Coeur d’Alene, driver of a Ford Thunderbird, was treated for minor injuries at Valley Hospital and Medical Center.

The accident still is under investigation and as many as four drivers could be cited and charged with negligent driving, Walker said.

Gunmen take bank bag from pizza worker

Two gunmen confronted an employee of the Pizza Hut at 323 N. Sullivan Road shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday and demanded a bank bag with the night’s receipts that she was carrying, police said.

After taking the money, they ordered the 21-year-old woman to remain in a fenced area containing the restaurant’s Dumpster until they had left.

Both robbers wore some kind of netting over their faces and both wore baggy sweat pants with dark shoes and white or gray hooded sweat shirts, Spokane Valley Police Cpl. Dave Reagan said in a written statement.

The employee last saw them headed westbound on Valleyway, Reagan said. Anyone with information is asked to call the Spokane Valley Police at (509) 242-TIPS.

An assistant manager at the restaurant said Monday that employees would no longer take cash to the bank at night.

Severely burned boy has successful surgery

One of the two boys severely burned on June 4 underwent another successful surgery Monday, and the other boy may be moved out of intensive care in two weeks.

Brian Ashmore had skin graft surgery on a leg at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, said his grandmother Shannon Ward.

Ashmore and his friend, Alex Brown, had apparently poured gasoline on the plastic slide they were playing on, and ignited the fumes with static electricity. Both were 4 at the time of the fire.

The boys were burned over half of their bodies and have been in Seattle since the incident.

Brian Ashmore was able to talk to his family last weekend, Ward said.

“Brian wanted hugs and kisses from us and that meant a lot for us, because he’s a very loving person,” she said.

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