A baby's coughing alerted residents inside a West Seattle house to a fire Tuesday morning, and all occupants managed to escape unhurt.

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residents to fire

A baby’s coughing alerted residents inside a West Seattle house to a fire Tuesday morning, and all occupants managed to escape unhurt.

Shortly before 5 a.m., a fire started at the single-family house in the 6700 block of 15th Avenue Southwest, said Seattle Fire Department spokeswoman Helen Fitzpatrick.

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Eight people living in the house were all asleep. When the baby started coughing, that “woke them up,” Fitzpatrick said. “That’s how they found out about the fire.”

When firefighters arrived, flames were coming from one of the rooms, but they were put out quickly, she said.

Medics evaluated the baby, who was “doing just fine.” There were no other injuries.

Investigators determined that it was an accidental fire caused by an unattended candle, said department spokeswoman Dana Vander Houwen. Damage was estimated at $150,000, with $100,000 for the structure, and $50,000 for the contents, she said.

Sturgis, S.D.

5 plead not guilty to weapons charges

A Seattle police detective and four other members of the Iron Pigs, a motorcycle club made up of law officers and firefighters, pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor weapons charges Tuesday in Meade County Circuit Court in Sturgis.

The charges stem from an Aug. 9 shooting that wounded a Hells Angels member during a brawl at the Loud American Roadhouse during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

The five are 38-year-old Scott Lazalde of Bellingham; 58-year-old Dennis McCoy of Seattle; 44-year-old James Rector of Ferndale, Whatcom County; Erik Pingel of Aurora, Colo.; and detective Ron Smith of Seattle. They were off duty during the rally.

Joseph Patrick McGuire of Imperial Beach, Calif., was hospitalized for about three weeks after the shooting and faces alternate counts of aggravated and simple assault.

Smith was also originally charged with two felonies, aggravated assault and perjury, but those charges were dropped.


Man charged in fatal hit-and-run

Pierce County prosecutors have filed charges against a man suspected of killing a bicyclist in a Puyallup hit-and-run a week ago.

Blair Jensen, 23, is charged with vehicular homicide and failure to remain at the scene of a fatal accident.

Police believe Jensen was driving his Cadillac when he hit Sumner resident John McRae, 51, and then fled. Jensen turned himself in to police last week after news media broadcast pictures of him and his girlfriend, Christina Ripple, and McRae’s family made an emotional plea.

Jensen is being held at Pierce County Jail on $485,000 bail.

Ripple, 20, has been charged with rendering criminal assistance.


Jury finds against spiritual teacher

An Olympia jury has sided with Ramtha School founder JZ Knight in her breach-of-contract lawsuit against another spiritual teacher called Whitewind Weaver.

Thurston County Superior Court jurors deliberated less than two hours Monday before awarding a little more than $10,000 to Knight. That’s the amount Weaver’s company, Life Coaching, received from an August 2006 seminar where the contract violations occurred.

After watching video clips of Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment seminars chosen to go with those at Weaver’s seminar, jurors decided that Weaver violated terms of the Yelm-based school’s registration certificate, which says the school’s teachings are for students’ personal use only.

Pierce County

Man, 91, accused of killing caregiver

A 91-year-old man is accused of shooting and killing his caregiver at a group home in University Place.

Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer says the 38-year-old man was preparing to take the older man to a medical appointment Tuesday when he pulled out the gun.

The victim was taken to St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, where he died.

He worked part time at the home, which is owned by his parents. The 91-year-old had lived since December at the home, along with four other patients.


Mail-fraud charges against ex-legislator

Former state lawmaker Paul King was arrested Monday on charges of mail fraud.

King, who as a Democrat represented the 44th District from 1983 to 1989, was indicted by a federal grand jury last month.

In the indictment, King is accused of submitting a business plan to the state Department of Licensing, falsely claiming he was an employee and then applying for unemployment benefits. Between November 2004 and May 2005, King was paid more than $12,200, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

King also filed on behalf of his former domestic partner’s daughter, who was paid more than $12,800 to which she was not entitled between January and July 2005, according to the indictment.

In June 2005, King sent Washington State Employment Security a check for $12,480 to refund the money, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Mail fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

King is being held at a federal detention center pending a Thursday hearing at U.S. District Court in Seattle.

King is an attorney practicing in Snohomish and King counties.


School Board OKs teachers contract

The Bellevue School Board unanimously approved its new three-year contract with the teachers union at its Tuesday night meeting.

The new contract agreement, which gives teachers a 5 percent raise and more flexibility in adapting standardized lessons, came after a nine-day strike.

Port Angeles

Phone worker’s death investigated

The state Department of Labor and Industries is investigating the death of a phone-company subcontractor who fell to his death from a cell tower in Port Angeles.

Police say 40-year-old Jeremy Combs of Bonney Lake was about 40 feet up the tower on top of the Elks building on Friday when he fell.


Center for Wooden Boats to stay put

The Center for Wooden Boats will retain its location on the Lake Union waterfront under a new lease agreement with the state Department of Natural Resources.

The five-year lease allows the center to continue displaying wooden boats and hosting floating workshops at Waterway No. 4.

The center’s partnership with the Department of Natural Resources, which oversees many of Washington’s beaches and lake beds, was announced Monday evening.

“Many of these hand-tooled boats at the center are gems, and being able to view, rent and experience these craft is such a great public service,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Doug Sutherland in a news release.

Times staff and news services

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