Jessica Robinson

Regional Correspondent

The Environmental Protection Agency has given the state of Idaho notice that a corner of the Idaho panhandle isn't meeting stricter new air quality standards. The agency intends to change that by forcing the state to reduce what are called “fine particulates” in the air.

One likely target will be pollution from wood burning. Wood stoves and outdoor burning are major contributors to air pollution throughout the Northwest, including Idaho's Silver Valley.

The state of Washington is scrambling to find beds for an estimated 200 mental health patients by Aug. 27. That's when the state must comply with a Washington Supreme Court ruling that said detaining psychiatric patients in emergency room beds is unlawful.

Courtesy of the Marek family.

It's been more than three years since a tunnel collapse at a north Idaho silver mine killed miner Larry Marek. Yet federal records show a series of federal penalties issued to the mine's owners still have not been paid.

In 2011, federal inspectors determined the Hecla Mining Company violated rules meant to prevent collapse at the Lucky Friday Mine. The inspectors issued four citations directly related to Larry Marek’s death with federal fines that totaled almost $360,000.

To this day, those fines remain unpaid.

Photo provided by Tacoma Housing Authority.

Federal dollars meant to restore toxic areas like old factories, mines and gas stations are now going to clean up after another longtime industry: methamphetamine.

For the first time, the EPA’s "Brownfields" program is covering the cleanup of former meth houses, and the inaugural sites are right here in the Northwest.

Fire officials estimate wildfires have burned more than 1,200 square miles in Washington and Oregon. Crews are working fast to build fire lines between the rapidly moving flames and rural communities. But hundreds of people remain on evacuation alert.

The wildfires burning in central Washington prompted another round of evacuations Friday night.

Residents of fire-ravaged central Washington say they're in a “state of shock.” Fires destroyed more houses over the weekend and prompted additional evacuation notices.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee says 1,000 National Guard troops will take a crash course in wildfire fighting so they can be deployed to central Washington fires. A blaze in Okanogan County that the governor calls a “firestorm” has destroyed around 100 homes.

Inslee says the troops are currently in Yakima for annual training.

"We're lucky, because they are on duty and in a place they can be trained. So we are going to bring trainers from the Department of Natural Resources to train them as rapidly as possible to be available — not just now, but for the rest of the summer," he said. 

About 80 people woke up in a Red Cross shelter in central Washington Friday morning after a wildfire forced the town of Pateros to evacuate overnight. Initial reports are that 40 homes and a church have burned in the small town on the Columbia River.

AP Photo

The attorney representing rescued POW Bowe Bergdahl expects the Army sergeant to be interviewed by military investigators within the coming weeks. The probe into how Bergdahl fell into Taliban hands while off-base in 2009 is already underway.

Bergdahl's attorney Eugene Fidell says it's hard to find other cases that serve as precedent for Bergdahl. Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School, met with Bergdahl in San Antonio for the first time last week after Bergdahl asked Fidell to represent him.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Public health officials in the Northwest say they're seeing gonorrhea infections at levels they haven't seen in years. Three counties in Washington state are now in the midst of an outbreak, and parts of Oregon and Idaho are set to top even last year's high numbers.

And health departments are seeing some unusual trends in the data.

AP Photo

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has retained a lawyer to counsel him during the Army's investigation into the circumstances of his capture.

In the meantime, the former prisoner of war who spent nearly five years as a Taliban captive in Afghanistan, has returned to regular duty at an Army base in Texas. 

Philip Higuera / University of Idaho

Fire season has come alive in the Northwest. On Monday, 20 homes in Idaho's Sun Valley area were briefly under evacuation when a fire broke out in a nearby canyon. And a 5,000-acre fire north of Wenatchee, Washington continues to threaten houses in the area.

Fires can be devastating to people's lives. But according to new research, at least certain types of forests recovery fairly quickly.

Boise National Forest

scathing new report by a group of veteran wildfire experts says too little has been done to improve firefighter safety since an Arizona fire killed 19 firefighters a year ago. 

The group, called Safety Matters, is asking national wildfire managers to implement a series of changes aimed at putting safety above saving property.

Jessica Robinson

A day of planned celebration of Bowe Bergdahl in his Idaho hometown turned out to be a pretty uneventful one. Hailey, Idaho cancelled Saturday’s event after the city received threats.

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