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AP - Oregon-Northwest

Latest Washington news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. PST

WASHINGTON EARTHQUAKE

Small earthquake hits area near Mount Rainer National Park

PACKWOOD, Wash. (AP) — People living near Mount Rainier National Park report they felt a small earthquake that hit the region.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the magnitude 3.6 quake hit a spot 13 miles (21 km) southeast of Packwood, an unincorporated community near the park, at 12:31 p.m. Sunday. The quake had a depth of 0.8 miles (1.3 km).

There were no initial reports of damage.

GUN BACKGROUND CHECKS

Report recommends centralized gun background check system

(Information from: The Seattle Times, )

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A new report recommends Washington create a centralized system for gun-purchase background checks.

The state Office of Financial Management report says such a system would increase public safety with more consistent training and oversight and reduce burden on local law enforcement performing more than 440,000 checks annually.

The Seattle Times reports that state lawmakers earlier this year unanimously passed legislation that authorized the report, which studied the feasibility of centralizing the checks. Bill sponsors hope work on changes to the system can start next year.

The report identified weaknesses in the current system, in which some checks are done by more than 200 local law enforcement agencies and others by the FBI.

A new system could allow a firearms dealer to contact the State Patrol for a check instead.

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THEATER EVACUATED-URINE

Wrongly delivered urine sample prompts theater evacuation

NORTH BEND, Wash. (AP) — A movie theater in the small Washington city of North Bend was evacuated after authorities say a packaged labeled as containing a “highly contagious human substance” was sent there in error.

KOMO reports the package contained a urine sample.

Sgt. Paul Graham with Snoqualmie Police says the package arrived at the theater late Friday and the theater manager found a box with the labeled liquid inside.

The theater was evacuated, and local streets were closed as hazmat crews responded.

Graham says the package was supposed to have been delivered to a medical clinic in Tacoma. It was unclear how it ended up more than 40 miles away in North Bend.

Snoqualmie Police provide police services to North Bend.

NET PEN COLLAPSE-SETTLEMENT

Cooke Aquaculture to pay $2.75M over net-pen collapse

(Information from: The Seattle Times, )

SEATTLE (AP) — Fish-farming company Cooke Aquaculture has agreed to pay $2.75 million to settle a Clean Water Act lawsuit following the collapse of one of its net-pens in 2017.

The Seattle Times reports that the settlement with the nonprofit Wild Fish Conservancy still needs the approval of a federal judge, but the money would pay for legal fees as well as Puget Sound restoration projects.

The nonprofit sued the company after a net-pen near Cypress Island collapsed, allowing more than 260,000 nonnative Atlantic salmon to escape.

Fears that they would survive and spread into Washington waters, posing a threat to native salmon, did not materialize, but the Legislature passed a law phasing out the farming of Atlantic salmon in the state by 2025.

Cooke recently proposed to farm native steelhead in Washington.

More than $1 million of the settlement money would go to the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, an Oakland, California-based nonprofit, for projects to improve Puget Sound water quality and aquatic habitat.

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OWL-VEHICLE COLLISIONS

Increase in owl collisions with vehicles in Skagit County

(Information from: Skagit Valley Herald, )

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — Wildlife rehabilitation facilities are seeing an increase in owls being hit by vehicles north of Seattle.

The Skagit Valley Herald reports the increase is something Sarvey in Arlington and Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center on San Juan Island see each fall.

Wolf Hollow Education Coordinator Shona Aitken says 14 of 17 owls treated at the center this fall were hit along Highway 20 and Memorial Highway, and in the Big Lake, Bow, Mount Vernon and Sedro-Woolley areas.

While there’s always an uptick in injured owls this time of year, she said seeing 17 since Sept. 15 is unusually high.

Some of the owls have died, some were released into the wild, and some are still undergoing treatment.

At Sarvey, six owls hit by vehicles in Skagit County have been received since Oct. 1.

Aitken says drivers can help by being aware that owls typically hunt between dawn and dusk and aren’t just found in forested areas.

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MOTORIST HITS PEOPLE-SEATTLE

Driver hits 4 pedestrians, kills 1, on Seattle sidewalk

(Information from: The Seattle Times, )

SEATTLE (AP) — Police say a driver hit four pedestrians on Seattle’s Aurora Avenue, killing one and injuring the others, and then tried to flee.

The Seattle Times reports the woman was driving north near North 40th Street when she struck the pedestrians around 1 p.m. Friday, according to Seattle Police spokesman Patrick Michaud.

He says her car hit a pole and rolled back into the roadway, coming to a rest by the median. Michaud says the driver got out of the car with minor injuries and ran away.

Michaud says a witness followed and directed officers to her.

Seattle Fire spokesman Lance Garland says one person was declared dead at the scene and three others were taken to Harborview Medical Center.

He says the injured include a 35-year-old man and 25-year-old man in critical condition and a 63-year-old man in stable condition.

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FATAL FIRE-MOUNT VERNON

1 dead in Mount Vernon mobile home fire

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — Authorities say one person died after a fire ripped through a mobile home in south Mount Vernon.

The Skagit Valley Herald reports the Mount Vernon Fire Department was called to a fully involved house fire at about 6:45 a.m. Thursday at Mountain View Mobile Park, Chief Bryan Brice said.

Brice says the fire was under control at about 7:25 a.m., at which point crews discovered the deceased person.

Assistant fire chief Bryan Harris said a total of 10 people were inside the home when the fire broke out. He says two were treated for injuries with one taken to Skagit Valley Hospital.

Authorities are investigating.

GYPSY MOTHS-SPRAYING

Washington plans to spray for gypsy moths

(Information from: Capital Press, )

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Two small areas of northwest Washington likely will be sprayed with an insecticide to stop an outbreak of gypsy moths, including a type native to Asia never before detected in the U.S.

The Capital Press reports the Washington State Department of Agriculture said it tentatively plans to release Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki over a small city on Puget Sound called Woodway, and an Everett neighborhood called Boulevard Bluffs.

Officials say a Hokkaido gypsy moth trapped in Woodway this summer was the first Hokkaido moth caught in the U.S.

Three hybrid Asian gypsy moths were caught in Boulevard Bluffs.

Gypsy moths native to Asia are more mobile than European varieties and are considered more of a danger to spread.

Before finalizing plans to spray next spring, the department will conduct environmental reviews and consult agencies including the USDA.

Washington has sprayed for gypsy moths most years since 1979.

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IDAHO POWER-LAWSUIT

Idaho utility will dismiss lawsuit against EPA over dams

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho utility will voluntarily dismiss its lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency involving relicensing of the company’s hydroelectric project where federally protected fall chinook salmon reproduce.

Idaho Power in documents filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court says the EPA in response to the lawsuit has approved allowing warmer water temperatures in the Snake River below the Hells Canyon Complex on the Idaho-Oregon border.

The National Marines Fisheries Service says the change is not likely to jeopardize salmon or their critical habitat.

Idaho Power says allowing warmer water below the dams could reduce the cost of electricity and save customers up to $100 million over 50 years.

The company says the Hells Canyon Complex generates about 70% of its hydroelectric power supplied to customers.

MONTANA MINING CLAIMS

Montana court removes potential wilderness mine obstacle

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A recent Montana Supreme Court decision has removed one obstacle for a mining company seeking to explore a silver and copper deposit in northwestern Montana potentially worth billions of dollars.

Exploration in the Cabinet Mountains has been delayed in part by a dispute over whether Mines Management Inc. can access the deposit by tunneling under a man’s nearby unpatented mining claims.

In a 5-0 decision Tuesday, Supreme Court justices ruled that the late Arnold Bakie’s claims were invalid because they didn’t contain any valuable minerals.

The justices overturned a previous jury verdict that Mines Management owed Bakie and investors, including former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, $3.3 million.

Luke Russell, a spokesman for Mines Management owner Hecla Mining Co., says the company is working with U.S. Forest Service officials on an environmental analysis of the mining project.

The Associated Press