Northwest briefly

WORLEY, Idaho – An explosion and fire inside a cargo container behind an Indian casino killed two Washington men on Thursday, Kootenai County sheriff’s spokesman Ben Wolfinger said.

Both of the victims were employees of the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Bingo Casino, Wolfinger said.

While positive identifications have not been made, the sheriff’s department said two employees of the casino were missing and presumed to be the victims. They are Donald S. Hanson, 56, of Fairfield and Richard E. Stokes, 49, of Rockford, the sheriff’s department said.

Both victims were inside the metal shipping container, which was about 150 yards from the main casino building and used for storage, he said.

“At this time, this appears to be a tragic accident,” Wolfinger said.

Chief Keith Hutcheson of the Coeur d’Alene Indian Tribal Police would not say what caused the fire, but said it did not appear to be arson.

Associated Press

Minority House and Senate Republicans on Thursday proposed a special legislative session to reinstate property tax limits if the state Supreme Court doesn’t move quickly to uphold Initiative 747.

But the proposal was dead on arrival, with Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire calling it premature and a waste of money.

A King County judge threw out the voter-approved law sponsored by Tim Eyman to limit regular property tax levy increases to 1 percent a year unless voters authorize a higher level.

Attorney General Rob McKenna has asked the high court to take the case on direct appeal. He plans to ask for a stay of the lower court order pending the appeal, so that the limits stay in place.

“A special session is the quickest way to shield taxpayers without having to wait for the Supreme Court to act,” said House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt of Chehalis.

Associated Press

Seven teenagers were hurt, some seriously, Wednesday evening when a speeding motorcycle left 112th Street E. near Buckley and plowed into them as they stood on the shoulder of the roadway, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department reported.

Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said a 25-year-old motorcyclist was speeding and passing several vehicles recklessly when he tried to turn off the road to avoid traffic ahead.

The rider lost control of the motorcycle, which ran into the teenagers, who were talking with someone in a car off the roadway.

The teens, all between 13 and 15, were taken to area hospitals, where two were undergoing surgery, Troyer said.

The rider also was taken to a hospital.

Troyer said deputies did not think alcohol or drugs were involved in the crash.

The News Tribune

Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen has added three World War II-era planes to his collection of antique aircraft and will display them this summer, his venture capital and investment firm, Vulcan Inc., said Thursday.

Two planes, the Republic P-47D Thunderbolt and the Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3, have been restored to virtually original factory condition and went on display Thursday at Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection at the Arlington Airport.

A third plane, the Hawker Hurricane Mk. XIIB, is expected to go on display later this summer.

The P-47 Thunderbolt was initially used as a bomber escort by England’s 8th Air Force and later equipped six Allied air forces.

The Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3 was flown by Germany’s forces. Allied forces flew the Hawker Hurricane Mk. XIIB from the beginning of the war in 1939 through the end of the Pacific conflict in 1945.

Associated Press

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