Winds fanning fire in Washington state

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Strong winds fanned wildfires that burned two homes in northeast Washington and threatened dozens more on Thursday afternoon.

In Stevens County north of Spokane, the Slide Creek fire near Arden has burned across some 500 acres, or three-quarters of a square mile, of timber, brush and grass. An air tanker and several helicopters are dropping retardant and water on the fire, officials said.

Undersheriff Lavonne Webb and Arden Fire Chief Joe Paccerelli reported two homes and a number of outbuildings have burned, according to KREM-TV. They said the blaze started Thursday when a power line fell on an outbuilding.

The fire chief said more than 40 other structures are in the fire's path. Some residents have been evacuated, and the Red Cross has established a shelter at Colville High School.

Family suing park after viewing death

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A New Hampshire family who witnessed a whale kill a trainer at SeaWorld is suing the Orlando theme park.

Suzanne and Todd Connell filed the lawsuit Tuesday. It claims their 10-year-old son suffered emotional distress from witnessing Dawn Brancheau's death and seeks $15,000 in damages.

It came a day after the federal job safety agency fined SeaWorld Orlando $75,000 for three violations uncovered during an investigation into her death.

A killer whale named Tilikium in February grabbed Brancheau's long hair as she lay on a cement slab and dragged her into the pool. The cause of death was drowning and traumatic injuries.

Danielle to become major hurricane

MIAMI (AP) — Forecasters say Hurricane Danielle is expected to become a major hurricane as it churns across the open Atlantic, headed for Bermuda.

Danielle has developed a well-defined eye and had maximum sustained winds Thursday near 110 mph. Danielle is several hundred miles away from Bermuda but still headed that way.

Farther east in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Earl has maximum sustained winds near 45 mph. Forecasters expect Earl to become a hurricane by early Saturday.

In the Pacific off Mexico's coast, Hurricane Frank is getting stronger with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph. It is expected to weaken over the weekend as it moves over cooler waters.

Prison device draws fire from ACLU

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A device designed to control unruly inmates by blasting them with a beam of intense energy that causes a burning sensation is drawing heat from civil rights groups who fear it could cause serious injury and was "tantamount to torture."

The mechanism, known as an "Assault Intervention Device," is a modified version of a military gadget that sends highly focused beams of energy at people and makes them feel as though they are burning. The Los Angeles County sheriff's department plans to install the device by Labor Day, making it the first time in the world the technology has been deployed in such a capacity.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California criticized Sheriff Lee Baca's decision in a letter sent Thursday, saying that the technology amounts to a ray gun at a county jail.

Military mishandled radioactive package

WASHINGTON (AP) — The military's flagship hospital has acknowledged it mishandled two packages of radioactive material in May, possibly exposing staff and patients to elevated radiation levels.

Spokesman Chuck Dasey said Thursday that Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington doesn't dispute the allegations made by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The commission said the packages sat beneath a lobby counter for nearly two days after they were delivered.

Dasey says the hospital has since reinforced its nuclear medicine safety program and retrained staff on the proper handling of radioactive material.

W.Va. guv OK after plane tire blows

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A spokeswoman says West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin is safe after being forced to abort a takeoff in his private plane when it blew a tire.

Manchin was piloting his single-engine Piper Saratoga on Thursday. After the tire blew, the plane veered off the runway and into the grass at Charleston's Yeager Airport.

Spokeswoman Sara Payne Scarbo says Manchin was with first lady Gayle Manchin and a member of his security detail. No one was hurt, and the aircraft appeared otherwise undamaged.

Operations resume at mine in Nevada

ELKO, Nev. (AP) — Barrick Gold Corp. has resumed production at a northern Nevada mine where two miners died earlier this month, but company officials say a shaft where the fatal accident occurred remains closed.

Barrick shut down the Meikle Mine north of Carlin after the accident in a ventilation shaft Aug. 12 killed Daniel Noel and Ethan Schorr, both of Spring Creek.

Federal regulators are investigating the accident.

Barrick officials say miners began returning to work last week and all were back on the job by the weekend. The underground mine has roughly 640 employees.