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Local Pony league baseball champs head to California

Local Pony league baseball champs head to California

A plucky group of 10-year-old boys are preparing to hop on a plane and head down to California to represent Washington as the regional Pony League Baseball champions!

All 11 kids have been involved with Spokane Indians Youth Baseball who united the Pony, Baby Ruth and Spokane Youth Sports Association leagues under one umbrella. After the regular season was over, try-outs were held for the all-star team and just a few weeks later the hard hitters swept the Mustang Northwest Regional Championship, winning all 11 games.

Since then, they've been working hard at Albertsons grocery stores around Spokane, asking for donations to help them make the trip to Anaheim.

“The money will help pay for their hotel room,” said Stephanie Erickson, the mother of one of the players. “The Pony organization books flights, which the parents pay half of, and this will help cover expenses like hotel rooms, food and other incidentals. We have a couple of families driving down with equipment to save on expenses like checking bat bags.”

Cooler temps help fire crews

You might think the rain that fell across the Inland Northwest Tuesday morning would make quick work of fires raging throughout the state, however while the moisture is a relief, there's still plenty of work to do.

Out at the Watermelon Hill fire camp in Cheney, crews woke up Tuesday morning and many of them began rolling up their tents on what will most likely be their last day at the fire. For those that remain behind there's still a lot of work left to make sure the fire is extinguished.

?It slows it down for a day but that's about it,? Deputy Incident Commander Bruce Holloway said.

Holloway, who is also the fire chief for Spokane County Fire District Three, said he's seen fire seasons like this before and knows that a little rain doesn't always mean a whole lot.

?The fuels are really cooked dry so it takes almost like a week of rain to really make a difference. A day of rain with heat again tomorrow, doesn't really change much,? he said.

In fact sometimes, depending on where crews are in the firefighting effort, the moisture can hinder their work.

Watermelon Hill fire 60 percent contained

The Watermelon Hill fire burning near Cheney now stands at 60 percent contained and remains at 11,000 acres.

Fire officials said Monday night six engines would work throughout the night monitoring the fire and Tuesday crews will begin mopping up.

All level three and level two evacuations were lowered to level one.

Fire officials say they're trying to get this fire taken care of as quickly as possible to get firefighters headed to other fires across the state.

"We want to get people back into the system if they've got time left," Public Information Officer Chuck Turley said. "People normally come out on 14 day shifts, so if they've got time left we will probably be moving them on to other fires."

There are currently 19 Type 1 and Type 2 management teams deployed across the country, as of Monday evening 17 of them were in Washington.

Farmers see livelihood burned to ashes by Watermelon Hill fire

Farmers see livelihood burned to ashes by Watermelon Hill fire

Firefighters have reached 40-percent containment on the Watermelon Hill fire south of Cheney, which, thanks go better GPS mapping, is being assessed at 11,000 acres in size and all evacuations have been downgraded to Level One.

The evacuation notice being downgraded means residents can return to their homes.

While firefighters are getting a handle on the fire residents in the area are finding their work is just beginning.

Tommi Swannick is just 15 but she can feel the fire's impact.

"I'm probably going to have to help rebuild fence and try to sort cows and stuff," Swannick said.

Swannick's family lost a barn, a stack of hay and all their winter pastures. She says her father even had to put down two cows that caught fire.

"We kind of depend on the cows and our hay and he puts up all this hay. It's pretty much what he does all summer," Swannick said.

Most of the residents in the area report similar loses: Wheat crops gone. Pastures burnt. Fences destroyed.

Firefighters strengthening lines around Watermelon Hill fire

Several dozen firefighters are continuing their efforts to strengthen the lines around the Watermelon Hill fire outside Cheney Monday.

According to Chuck Turley with the Department of Natural Resources, crews made substantial progress Sunday and the fire, which estimated to be about 11,000 acres, is 40-percent contained.

Fishtrap Lake Resort remains at a Level 3 evacuation, while all other previous evacuation notices for the fire have been downgraded to Level 1.

Approximately 300 personnel are working on the fire Monday, including 17 engines, four water tenders, six 10-person hand crews and three 20-person hand crews. Agencies involved in the firefighting efforts including DNR, Bureau of Land Management, Spokane County Fire District 3, Lincoln County Fire District 1, Washington State Patrol and deputies from both Spokane and Lincoln County Sheriff's offices. The fire is being supervised by Washington Incident Management Team Five.

The fire, which is located seven miles southwest of Cheney, started Saturday afternoon near Fishtrap Lake. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The Bickett Building to give downtown a boost

The Bickett Building to give downtown a boost

From the outside, The Bickett looks like many buildings outside – old, brick and in need of a little TLC. On the inside, however, developer Jed Conklin and his band of construction workers have transformed the one-time hotel (and rumored brothel) into a streamlined work of art.

Standing at the bannister of the second floor, Conklin says they had a lot of work ahead of them when they first walked in.

“The entire building was open and full of pigeons,” he said. “The droppings were ankle deep in places, and the rain was pouring in.”

Amazingly, Conklin was able to salvage the original floors, now scraped clean and polished to a smooth finish without even a creak to give away its century of history. The original floor plans are still visible in the wood, outlining the four single-occupancy rooms that now make up each apartment.

“We wanted to save as much as we could,” Conklin explained. “Even the shelves are made of recycled lumber from somewhere else in the building.”