Rogue Valley News, Wednesday, Sept. 11th – Lime & Kidder 2 Fires Burn, Josephine County Added as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area by White House

The latest News from around the Rogue Valley, from

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Rogue Valley Weather

Sunny, with a high near 81.  Overnight low of 55.

Sunny, with a high near 91.

Mostly sunny, with a high near 87.

Mostly sunny, with a high near 87.

A chance of showers after noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 77.

Today’s Headlines…

The lightening caused Lime Fire – located south of Cottonwood Peak on the Happy Camp/Oak Knoll Ranger District is currently at 1620 acres at 0% containment.

Monday’s favorable weather, with cloud cover and higher humidity, kept fire spread and smoke to a minimum allowing firefighters to construct direct fireline along the fire’s edge. The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office issued an evacuation warning for residences within and adjacent to the fire. This request was made out of concern for potential rapid-fire movement. The evacuation warning will remain in effect until public safety officials determine conditions are safe to allow the warning to be lifted.   

Motorists are advised to exercise extreme caution along Highway 96 in the vicinity of the fire, in order to provide for firefighter safety and to accommodate increased fire equipment traffic. Motorists are also encouraged to be aware of potentially distracted driving along Interstate 5, as the fire is visible from a number of vantage points north of Yreka.

The lightening caused Kidder 2 Fire – located ten miles southwest of Fort Jones in the Marble Mountain Wilderness on the Salmon/Scott River Ranger District is currently at 141 acres at 15% containment.

The Kidder 2 Fire is located in the wilderness and the remote, rugged terrain continues to challenge firefighter access and fireline construction. Helicopters are supporting suppression efforts on the ground by performing bucket drops and supplying firefighters on the ground with mission critical firefighting equipment. The Pacific Crest Trail passes nearby, and hikers are advised to avoid the area, due to the smoke and the possibility of fire spread. Forest visitors can contact the Salmon/Scott River Ranger District Office at (530) 468-5351 for additional information or alternative recreational opportunities in the area.

The public is being asked to avoid some recreation sites near Lost Creek Lake due to upcoming logging activity on the west and north sides of the Lost Creek Lake, beginning September 10, and continuing through early October 2019.

Area restrictions include portions of the Rogue River Trail from Takelma Boat Ramp through, and including, Four Corners Campground; and Rogue River Trail near, and including, Fire Glen Campground. Additionally, visitors should expect delays and use caution while driving on portions of Talkema Drive and Lewis Road due to increased traffic. Joseph Stewart State Park, all other recreation facilities and the majority of the Rogue River Trail around Lost Creek will still be accessible to visitors.

Additional information on the Lost Creek Lake site is available at: Additional information regarding the Lost Creek forest management project is available on BLM’s planning site at:    

Meth and other drugs earmarked as High Intensity Drug Trafficked in Josephine County by White House Task Force

Today, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced it is adding 13 additional counties across 12 states to its existing High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program.

Designation of these areas will facilitate coordination among Federal, State, local, and tribal law enforcement partners focused on disrupting and dismantling drug trafficking organizations. The newly designated counties include Josephine County. “The proven success of our HIDTA program is a direct result of the hard work of those on the frontlines of this fight, and the invaluable partnerships they’ve formed with law enforcement groups across the Nation.

From day one, the Trump Administration has strongly supported the men and women dedicated to stopping deadly drugs from flowing into our communities, and we’re renewing that commitment once again today. By expanding our HIDTA program to these critical areas, we are providing more resources to help achieve our mission of keeping more of our family members, friends, and neighbors safe.” ONDCP Director Jim Carroll said.

Around 2pm RADE detectives executed a search and seizure warrant at 4076 New Hope Road in Grants Pass. 

The warrant was made possible after several months of investigating Joseph William Gargano, 48 years of age, into selling methamphetamine and heroin from this location. Gargano was taken into custody and found to be in possession of more than a 1/2 pound of methamphetamine, 1/4 oz. of heroin, scales, packaging material and more than $2000 dollars in cash.

Also seized was a .44 caliber revolver Gargano was possessing. He was lodged at the Josephine County Jail for DCS/PCS methamphetamine and heroin as well as Felon in Possession of a Firearm and a Probation Violation detainer. During the investigation, Justin Lee Sidener and Timothy Lee Messer were also taken into custody and lodged on warrants and Probation Violation detainers.

Join your neighbors and your Grants Pass DPS Police Officers at Human Bean Coffee 840 NE F Street on September 12th from 10am to 12pm to connect over coffee and casual conversation about issues that matter most to you in our community.

Human Bean Coffee, along with Rogue Roasters, Starbucks and Dutch Bros, has partnered with DPS for Coffee with a Cop events around Grants Pass. The purpose of these community engagements is to simply discuss your questions, concerns, or stories. We, as your police department, will not have an agenda to present. Rather, we will let you decide the topics for discussion. We are excited for this chance to interact with our citizens in a low-key manner. 

This is an opportunity for all of us to communicate positively and build relationships with each other.  We appreciate the invitations of these local coffee shops to open their doors to the police department and citizens of Grants Pass.

The RRSNF has implemented an emergency road and area closure in portions of the Sky Lakes Wilderness to further promote the health and safety of the public and firefighters who continue to work on the 340-acre Gopher Fire.

The closure is effective immediately, until November 30, 2019 or sooner rescinded. The closure does not close the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, but does close several trails or portions of trails to the west of the PCNST. Additionally, the area closure may impact some hunters who favor that portion of the Sky Lakes Wilderness area during bow hunting season, which recently began in southwest Oregon. Visitors are encouraged to check for fire-related closures before they venture out onto public lands.

The RRSNF is participating in a pilot interactive fire closure mapping application, with five other Pacific Northwest Forests (the Fremont-Winema, Gifford Pinchot, Okanogan-Wenatchee, Umpqua, and Wallow-Whitman National Forests). This Interactive Map easily displays emergency closures related to fires, as well as allowing visitors to view the associated documentation for those closures.

The public can get updates on the Gopher Fire via Inciweb, as well as by following the RRSNF Facebook and Twitter pages.

One person died and another was injured in a fiery crash early Sunday morning near Prospect.  Medical examiner investigators have tentatively identified the decedent as a Prospect man.

In the early morning hours, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a 911 call reporting a motor vehicle crash in the 1800-block of Mill Creek Drive.  Deputies say the vehicle, a 2007 Dodge Ram 2500, was southbound on Mill Creek Drive when it left the roadway, struck a tree, and then caught fire. The driver was ejected into the bed of the pickup during the impact.  Witnesses were unable to remove the driver from the pickup bed before it caught fire.  Personnel from Prospect Fire responded to the scene to fight the fire, which spread to nearby vegetation.

An adult male passenger was able to walk away from the crash, but was injured.  He was transported to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center by Mercy Flights ambulance for treatment. An investigator with the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office responded to the scene. 

Based on witness statements and available evidence, the driver has been tentatively identified as Justin Anthony Ghirardo, 41, of Prospect.  Further investigation, including scientific studies, is underway to make an official determination of identification, as well as cause and manner of death.  Ghirardo’s family has been notified. Deputies say high speed and alcohol use are believed to be factors contributing to the crash.  They are assisted in the ongoing crash investigation by the Serious Traffic Accident Reconstruction (STAR) team.  Jackson County Roads personnel closed the roadway for several hours during the investigation and debris removal.  

If you’re travelling north this week be aware crews are removing loose and hazardous rocks from the hillsides at both ends of the Oregon Highway 58 Salt Creek Tunnel through this coming Sunday.

All work will be done during the day, with lanes closed for safety as needed around the tunnel at milepost 56. Expect work zone delays of up to 20 minutes. The rock removal is being done in preparation for winter. Crews are removing rock that has collected behind the protective screen to make room for the rock that is expected to come down in winter weather.

This project is about two miles east of another rock removal and screen installation project on OR 58 at milepost 54.2. That project resumes work later this month.

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