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Washington sees largest growth in population since 2008

Washington sees largest growth in population since 2008

Is your neighborhood beginning to feel a little crowded? According to the Washington office of Financial Management, the state population has increased dramatically in the past year by an estimated 1.5 percent. That's 85,500 people!

Washington's population has been growing at an increasing rate, mostly due to migration. In 2013 the state saw a net gain of 49,200 people moving into the state, more than double the 21,600 from 2012.

Net migration accounts for 57 percent of the state's population growth this year, with natural increase (births minus deaths) responsible for the other 43 percent.

Seventy-five percent of the state's total population growth occurred in the five largest metropolitan counties: Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane who's economic activity continues to attract migrants.  

Wildfire fighters train for the season

Wildfire fighters train for the season

Wildfire season is underway but what does it take to brave the front lines and fight those fires?

Stepping up to fight wildfires is a bold move.

"You pretty much dedicated your summer if you decide to do this," said Veronica Naccarato, wildfire fighter.

Not to mention the danger. Veronica Naccarato has been fighting fires for five seasons.

Friday she helped train more than 30 new firefighters.

"I started what's called a practice fire, just kind of gets them prepared for going out in a real life fire," said Naccarato.

The live burn exercise is the last part to a week long intensive training program.

Veteran firefighters say it is the most important test of the week.

"Live fire exercises at these guard schools are extremely important because once they leave here training is over and as soon as tomorrow they could be on an actual wildfire," said Josh Tellessen, wildfire fighter.

The trainees are from agencies throughout the area. Their ages range from 18 to 60, some are college students and others are just passionate about the environment, but now they all have the same goal.

Enrollment office for TSA PreCheck opens in Spokane Valley

Enrollment office for TSA PreCheck opens in Spokane Valley

Airport security just got a little easier for people living in Spokane. An enrollment center for the Transportation Safety Commission's program, PreCheck has opened up in the Spokane Valley.

"We travel a lot and we travel to a lot of major airports,? Leslie Johnston said. ?It makes a big difference when you're in a major airport."

Johnston was at the center at 12510 E. Sprague Avenue Thursday applying for PreCheck.

"I waited about three hours," Johnston said. "And that's this time. We came a little before lunch and got turned away."

The process only takes about ten minutes, but could take longer if applicants don't make an appointment. Interested people should go online and fill out the application at universalenroll.dhs.gov. From there, Spokane applicants can go to Absolute Drug Testing at the east Sprague location where they'll verify their citizenship or immigration status and be fingerprinted. There's an $85 non-refundable fee, which has turned off some travelers from taking advantage of PreCheck.

Road crews to flatten infamous Ponderosa Jump next week

Road crews to flatten infamous Ponderosa Jump next week

Plans are in motion to flatten the infamous Ponderosa Jump, the location where two University High School students, Josie Freier and McKenzie Mott, were killed in a car crash last October.

Authorities say the driver, 16-year-old Preston Maher, was going 70 miles an hour when he lost control and wrapped the passenger side of his car around a tree near the intersection of East Ponderosa Drive and South Bates Road.

Maher has since been charged in juvenile court with two counts of vehicular homicide for Freier and Mott's deaths.

Neighbors say the stretch of road is a common place young drivers would frequent because the dip in the roadway allowed them to catch some air. Drivers would speed north on South Bates Road hoping to hit the dip and soar into the air.

The problem is the fatal crash last October didn't put an end to it. Neighbors say young drivers were at it less than a week after the crash until Spokane County and the City of Spokane Valley stepped in.

DNR predicting above normal fire season

DNR predicting above normal fire season

The Department of Natural Resources is expecting this year's fire season to be above normal and that while the number of fires they see might not change, the size of the fires probably will.

"We're expecting higher than normal temperatures so in certain areas, especially in the Spokane area, we're expecting a slightly above normal fire season," Guy Gifford with the DNR said.

The fire season usually hits its peak in September, however with dry conditions and higher than normal temperatures it means the fire danger is rising more rapidly than usual. For Eastern Washington this is expected to cause more large project fires.

"The thing is in Eastern Washington our normal fire season is 500 fires a year. That's normal. Of those we can usually expect six to ten of that many fires a year becoming a Type 2 which we call a project fire," Gifford said.

These types of wildfires span between 500 and 800 acres and require more outside resources to get them contained.

"More large fires means more homes threatens and more homes lost in a normal fire year," Gifford said.

Deadly stretch of Spokane Valley road re-worked

A deadly stretch of Spokane Valley road is being re-worked to eliminate a dip known as the "Ponderosa Jump" where two teens were killed in an October crash.

A construction crew will flatten the roadway to prevent speeding cars from flying off the pavement.

The Spokesman-Review reports the asphalt work will take about a week a cost about $25,000.

Officials say a car was speeding close to 70 mph last October when it left the road and hit a tree before reaching the jump. The crash killed two University High School students, Josie Freier and McKenzie Mott, both 15.

The 16-year-old driver, Preston Maher, has been charged in juvenile court with two counts of vehicular homicide.

Escalating crisis in Iraq driving gas prices higher

Escalating crisis in Iraq driving gas prices higher

The tensions in Iraq could soon be hitting your wallet at the gas pump as experts predict gas prices could hit $4 a gallon and possibly more if the situation doesn't deescalate.

A stay-cation might be a wise option this summer as gas prices are starting to rise.

"This time of year you starting to get into driving season, vacation season and those kinds of things and I think notoriously prices start rising up," Jim Redmon, president of Divine Corporation said.

Washington state has the 4th highest average for a gallon of regular unleaded at $3.94 a gallon. In Spokane the average is 20 cents lower at $3.74.

"It's unfortunate that it gets to be that high but you gotta do what you gotta do, you got to get from A to B, I'm going to pay to what ever it goes to because I gotta get around," Kenneth Lower said.

"It's pretty sad, pretty ridiculous, it's already hard enough to pay this much money, especially if you have to drive a lot," Teresa Hankins said.

The fact is, rising violence in Iraq could lead to rising prices at the gas pump.