Seattle's new South Lake Union streetcars lost power Friday morning for a little more than half an hour because of an electrical short in...

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Seattle’s new South Lake Union streetcars lost power Friday morning for a little more than half an hour because of an electrical short in the overhead power system.

The two trains stopped at 10:53 a.m. and restarted at 11:28 a.m., said Rochelle Ogershok, spokeswoman for King County Metro Transit, which operates the city-owned trains. Passengers got off the streetcars, which were near the two ends of the line at that time, she said.

A cause hasn’t been confirmed, but the city suspects that the outage happened because the overhead pole ends or “shoes” of a crossing trolley bus — not centered in its road lane — made contact with a streetcar power supply line, at the south end of the route, according to Ethan Melone, streetcar project manager for the Seattle Department of Transportation.

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An estimated 8,000 people boarded on opening day, and an additional 2,050 by midafternoon Thursday, a “pretty exciting” showing, Melone said. Friday afternoon, trains carried 40 to 60 people each at any given point. Rides are free through Dec. 31.


Man is arrested in relief-fraud probe

A Chehalis man accused of lying to flood-relief workers has been jailed for investigation of theft.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says the 42-year-old was arrested Thursday after his stories were questioned by United Way workers.

He had claimed that a 20-acre farm was destroyed and he lost everything, including animals and an antique grand piano.

United Way gave the man clothing and cash cards for groceries and gas. One volunteer used her own credit card to pay for his hotel room.

The Sheriff’s Office says the man told detectives that once he started lying to United Way, he couldn’t stop because they were so sympathetic.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield says he’s aggressively pursuing all reports of flood-relief fraud.


Lawyers help out needy flood victims

The Washington State Bar Association has activated a hotline for low-income residents who need legal help to recover from the recent flooding.

Flood victims who need legal assistance but who can’t afford an attorney can call the Disaster Legal Service toll-free line, 866-519-7099, and leave a message. Attorneys who wish to volunteer legal services for flood victims can also call the hotline.

The lawyers will help flood victims with insurance claims for deaths, hospital bills and a loss of property, drawing up new wills and other legal documents lost in the flood, helping with home repair contracts, and other legal questions.


Driver who hit DOT truck dies

A driver died after rear-ending a state Department of Transportation pickup on Interstate 5 in Fife Friday morning.

The DOT worker was clearing debris from the roadway from a previous noninjury accident at 7:15 a.m. when a sport-utility vehicle struck his truck, which had its flashing light bar activated, said Kelly Stowe, DOT spokeswoman. The impact caused the DOT worker’s truck to roll and hit him, Stowe added.

The worker, whose identity hasn’t been released, was taken to Tacoma General Hospital and was later released with minor injuries, Stowe said.

The SUV driver, identified by the Washington State Patrol as 33-year-old Roy P. Fuentes, of Tacoma, died at Tacoma General Hospital.


Agreement reached on cigarette-tax plan

The Yakama Nation and state have reached an agreement on cigarette taxes that will be proposed to the Legislature next month for approval.

The agreement would require the tribe to impose a tribal tax on cigarettes sold on its reservation. The tribe could keep all of the tax, which would be phased in over eight years to eventually add up to $17.75 per carton after eight years, at current state rates. The tax is based on a percentage of the state tax.

The agreement is similar to other agreements with tribes across Washington, intended to end the incentive for non-Indian smokers to buy their cigarettes at tribal smoke shops to avoid paying the state tax.

Ashford, Pierce County

DNA convicts elk poacher

Mount Rainier National Park rangers used DNA testing to convict an elk poacher.

Rangers found a kill site on Nov. 6 well within the southeast corner of the park. They found hunters camping three days later just south of the park boundary.

One hunter, 48-year-old dean Douglas Harriman, of Arlington, said he had killed an elk in the White Pass area. He refused to let rangers take a blood sample, so they took samples of blood splatters in the camp and blood drippings from sacks of meat hanging in the trees.

The Fish and Wildlife forensics lab in Ashland, Ore., matched it to blood from the kill site in the park.

The Park Service says Harriman pleaded guilty in federal court to illegally taking wildlife. He was fined $500 and ordered to pay $2,500 restitution.


10-year sentence for death of baby

A Lummi tribal member has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for the abuse-related death of his 5-month-old son.

Bartholomew Jefferson, 30, threw the child onto an armrest of a couch last November after becoming frustrated because the baby would not stop crying. The child suffered a brain injury and died nine days later.

Jefferson had pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter last summer.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez told Jefferson that he had deprived the tribe of its most valuable resource — one of its children.

“You took the life of an innocent child, completely dependent on the adults around him for love and protection,” the judge said.


Razor-clam dig will start Dec. 21

Just in time for Christmas, state Fish and Wildlife officials have announced a razor-clam dig on evening tides at four Washington ocean beaches, starting Dec. 21.

The digs are scheduled at Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks beaches on Dec. 21 and 22. Twin Harbors will also open for an evening razor-clam dig on Dec. 23.

Marine toxin tests have confirmed the clams are safe to eat.

Fish and Wildlife Coastal Shellfish Manager Dan Ayres says the holiday season digs are popular. In 2003, the last time the tides were right for a razor-clam dig close to Christmas, nearly 20,000 people hit the beach on the first day.

A license is required for anyone age 15 or older and the limit is 15 clams — the first 15 you dig.

Seattle Times staff and news services

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