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US sends veteran firefighters to battle Australia wildfires

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A crew of 20 veteran firefighters based in California will soon head to Australia to help battle the country's out-of-control wildfires that have killed at least 23 people and scorched millions of acres. The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, which is mobilizing U.S. resources in response to Australia's requests for international firefighting aide, says the crew of federal firefighters based in the Angeles National Forest will depart on Monday. The U.S. has sent dozens of fire managers to Australia since early December. Officials say this crew has experience attacking fires early before they grow into infernos.


Idaho tracks reopen after train derailment caused fuel spill

BONNERS FERRY, Idaho (AP) — The tracks in northern Idaho have reopened after a train derailment on Wednesday stranded locomotives and caused a fuel spill in a river. BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas said the tracks reopened Saturday afternoon after three locomotives and six rail cars derailed in the remote area 10 miles east of Bonners Ferry on the main line. No one was injured. Melonas said crews are still trying to determine how to remove the two locomotives that are still at the scene, including one on the banks and another in the water of the Kootenai River.


Idaho man's home searched for wife's death, missing stepkids

REXBURG, Idaho (AP) — Authorities have searched the home of an Idaho man linked to the suspicious death of his first wife and the disappearance of his two new stepchildren. On Friday, investigators executed a search warrant on Chad Daybell's house where his first wife Tammy Daybell was found dead in October. Chad Daybell married a woman named Lori shortly after. The search warrant was also in connection to the disappearance of the second wife's children, 7-year-old Joshua Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, who haven't been seen since September. The parents initially said the youngest was in Arizona but police believe that was a lie. Authorities haven't said why they got the warrant or what they found.


Idaho employer to pay over $47K in unpaid overtime, travel

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal agency has ordered an Idaho company to pay four employees tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid overtime and travel time after the company violated labor laws. Idaho Statesman reports that an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department found that Intermountain Concrete Polishing paid employees straight-time rates for all the hours they worked, including workweeks that exceeded 40 hours. Officials say the company also failed to record or compensate employees for travel time when they worked several hours away from their homes. Federal officials say the floor polishing company must pay the four employees more than $47,000.


Idaho lawmakers talk taxes, ballot initiatives and hemp

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Gov. Brad Little says he's already sent a message about making the state's ballot initiative process tougher by vetoing a bill last year. But fellow Republican and House Speaker Scott Bedke says he'll be surprised if new legislation isn't introduced this year. Little, Bedke and other leaders took part Friday in The Associated Press Legislative Preview. Lawmakers say they expect property, grocery and local option taxes to also be among the top matters of the session that starts Monday. Additional likely legislation includes legalizing hemp and paying for Medicaid expansion.


Idaho tracks closed by derailment could open Saturday

BONNERS FERRY, Idaho (AP) — Crews hope to have track closed by derailed train in northern Idaho open by Saturday morning. The lead engine in Wednesday's derailment began leaking diesel fuel into the Kootenai River. Three locomotives and six rail cars derailed in the remote area 10 miles (16 kilometers) east of Bonners Ferry on the main line. There were no injuries. BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas said Thursday that crews have rerailed the six cars. One car had a load of steel while the five others were empty. One locomotive is still in the river, Melonas said, adding railway officials will determine the best way to get it out of the water.

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