Around the Northwest
Puget Sound area
Burn ban in effect; don't use fireplace
A Stage 1 burn ban has been issued for King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties, effective at 4 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
That means the use of fireplaces and uncertified wood stoves is prohibited until air quality improves.
Air quality is expected to deteriorate at least through Friday, especially in communities where residential wood burning is common.
According to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, during a Stage 1 burn ban:
• No burning is allowed in fireplaces or uncertified wood stoves. Residents should rely instead on their home's other, cleaner source of heat (such as their furnace or electric baseboard heaters) for a few days until air quality improves, the public-health risk diminishes and the ban is canceled. The only exception is if a wood stove is a home's only adequate source of heat.
• No outdoor fires are allowed. This includes recreational fires such as bonfires, campfires and the use of fire pits and chimineas.
Burn-ban violations are subject to a $1,000 penalty.
It is OK to use natural gas, propane, pellet and EPA-certified wood stoves or inserts during a Stage 1 burn ban.
Stolen box of ashes returned
A box containing human ashes, found Sunday in a Lynnwood hotel, have been returned to a father whose son died several years ago, police said Wednesday.
The box had been stolen in a recent burglary from the father's home in an unincorporated area of Snohomish County, just outside Lynnwood, said Lynnwood police spokeswoman Shannon Sessions.
Police sought information on the box after it was found by a guest at the hotel in the 4100 block of 196th Street Southwest, sitting between two vending machines.
The box included a photo of a preschool-age boy, with a name and "1980" on the back.
Late Tuesday, following news reports about the discovery, police were contacted by a member of the father's family, Sessions said.
"Obviously the owner is grateful for their safe return," a police statement said.
The family does not want to be identified or speak publicly about the matter, including information about the death, according to Sessions.
Shift in strategy on prostitution
Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said his office is trying to increase the number of men prosecuted for soliciting prostitution and give prostitutes the opportunity to receive social services designed to help get them out of the business.
Speaking at a Human Trafficking Awareness Day news conference at Seattle City Hall on Wednesday, Holmes said his office is working with the Seattle Police Department to reverse the usual 60-40 prosecution ratio of female prostitutes to male customers.
"Prostitutes are more often than not victims and, in most instances, Seattle Community Court will be an option for them, coupled with appropriate services," Holmes said.
Seattle Community Court allows nonviolent offenders to avoid criminal sentencing if they agree to participate in programs aimed at addressing the root causes of their crime, including chemical dependency, education, unemployment and homelessness. If the offender fails to complete the treatment plan, the criminal sentence is imposed.
Men prosecuted for soliciting a prostitute won't have that option and even first-time offenders will face prosecution, Holmes said. Currently, first-time offenders qualify for pretrial diversion and can pay a fine and complete community service. Holmes said cases against johns are often harder to prove because the men often speak in code and can raise doubts about their intentions with a jury.
But, Holmes said, "as long as we have probable cause, we'll prosecute the cases, even if there's a risk we won't win."
The city attorney's criminal division prosecutes misdemeanor crimes punishable by up to one year in jail. Between January and Aug. 31, 2011, the office filed 187 prostitution cases in Seattle Municipal Court. In the same period, it filed 79 cases of patronizing a prostitute.
Child performer's death investigated
A 10-year-old Whatcom County boy has died from injuries he suffered during an apparent accidental hanging at his home.
The Bellingham Herald reports (is.gd/zNMNUr) that Caleb Kors was an aspiring street and circus performer often seen at the Bellingham Farmers Market. He died Tuesday evening at a Seattle hospital of injuries suffered Monday. Under his stage name "Flip," he performed acrobatics and juggling tricks with the Bellingham Circus Guild.
Sheriff Bill Elfo says the boy might have been rehearsing on or tinkering with a circus prop inside the home when the accident happened. A medical examiner will determine the cause of death.
Times staff and news services