Among other items: More than 200 people gathered on an Interstate 5 overpass near the gates of Fort Lewis on Christmas evening for a candlelight vigil honoring the Army base's soldiers and their families; and a former bail bondsman who was convicted of sexually abusing a young female relative has been returned to Clark County...

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A Bellevue couple and their 3-year-old daughter escaped from their home early yesterday after an electrical short or failure in Christmas lights started a fire in their living room while they slept.

The blaze in the 16800 block of Northeast 35th Street caused an estimated $100,000 damage to the house, where three lighted spiral Christmas trees and other lights had been left on overnight, the Bellevue Fire Department said.

The family escaped through a bedroom window after a smoke detector alerted them to the fire at about 2:25 a.m. Firefighters brought the blaze under control in 14 minutes, before it could spread to the second floor, according to the department.

The department stressed the importance of turning off or unplugging lights and displays before going to bed.

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200 people gather to honor Fort Lewis soldiers

More than 200 people gathered on an Interstate 5 overpass near the gates of Fort Lewis on Christmas evening for a candlelight vigil honoring the Army base’s soldiers and their families.

The crowd spilled onto the sidewalk at both ends of the overpass, which was draped with yellow ribbons. Some held American flags high above their heads as honks of support sounded from the highway below.

Operation Support Our Troops, a grass-roots group made up of military families and others, organized the Christmas vigil, which drew military wives and husbands, parents, children, veterans and active-duty members of the military.

Mark Ceccarelli, a Marine Corps veteran from Lakewood, has taken to playing his bugle at overpass gatherings, which have become frequent sights in recent years.

“I want to honor these people,” he said, glancing around at the crowd. “And those over there in the sand.”

A suicide bombing last week in Mosul, Iraq, wounded dozens of people and killed 22, including six soldiers from Fort Lewis.

Memorial services for those soldiers have been scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday at Fort Lewis.

Felon returned to Vancouver, Wash., for sentencing

Ending a 14-month extradition process, a former bail bondsman who was convicted of sexually abusing a young female relative has been returned to Clark County by federal agents.

James R. French will be in the Clark County Jail until he’s sentenced on a 9-year-old conviction for child sexual abuse. He will make a court appearance today so a judge can set a sentencing date. He faces up to 23 years in prison.

French fled the country after his 1995 conviction, leaving a teenage son behind. He was arrested in Mazatlan, Mexico, on a federal fugitive warrant in October 2003.

After he was convicted on Nov. 13, 1995, Superior Court Judge Roger Bennett allowed French to remain on bail for a few days before sentencing. Instead of returning for sentencing, French fled.

French, 57, was married and operating a currency exchange in Mazatlan with his wife.

Two new campgrounds to open at Bend, Ore., lake

Visitors to Crescent Lake in Central Oregon will have two new spots to camp next summer.

National-forest crews have finished construction of two new campgrounds.

Forest Service officials decided to build the fee campgrounds after a 1997 report showed increased use and vandalism of the area.

The campgrounds now have campground hosts, restroom facilities and garbage service. Neither site has paved roads or drinking water.

One of the new campgrounds, called the Contorta Point Group Site, requires reservations. It contains two group campsites, with a 40-person capacity in each site. The daily fee is $45 per group.

The other area, Contorta Flat Campground, has 18 campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis. Daily fees range from $9 to $11, depending on the site.

Both campgrounds will be open between May and October.

Times staff and news services