Image default

News Around the State of Oregon on the Fires, Resources, and more…

In the Rogue Valley, The Almeda Drive Fire is completely contained as of Tuesday morning, according to Jackson County Emergency Management. While this does not necessarily mean that all portions of the fire are completely “out,” it means that fire officials are fairly confident that it will not spread beyond the existing footprint.

Evacuation levels lowered somewhat on Monday, allowing more people to return home — particularly between S. Stage Road and Glenwood. The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s team turned over leadership of firefighting efforts to local agencies.  Firefighters are still working to clear up hazards within the burned area — fire debris, unstable buildings, downed power lines, and venting natural gas lines.

Monday afternoon, Sheriff Nathan Sickler said that the Almeda Fire death toll had been adjusted down to three. Nearly two dozen arrests have been made in evacuation zones, some on suspicion of looting.

A Jackson County grand jury has officially charged the man accused of starting a fire behind a Phoenix neighborhood on the night the Almeda Fire burned north from Ashland, the county District Attorney’s office announced on Tuesday.

The indictment included a total of 32 counts — two counts of Arson in the First Degree, 15 counts of Criminal Mischief in the First Degree, 14 counts of Recklessly Endangering Another Person, and one count for Unlawful Possession of Methamphetamine. Only the last charge is a new addition.

41-year-old Michael Jarrod Bakkela was arraigned in Jackson County Circuit Court on Monday. Appearing via a video monitor from the county jail, Bakkela entered an initial plea of “not guilty.”

Bakkela’s bail has been set at $5 million. An out-of-county public defender will be appointed for him.  Bakkela has an extensive criminal history in Jackson County alone — including a mix of misdemeanor drug charges and more serious felonies, though no previous charges for arson.

Local leaders are urging President Trump to declare a major disaster in Oregon as wildfires continue to ravage the state.  Governor Kate Brown announced yesterday she has sent a letter to Trump asking him to declare a major disaster.  

Later yesterday, Oregon’s entire Congressional delegation sent Trump a letter urging him to swiftly approve Brown’s request.  Trump is expected to do so shortly.  The Federal Emergency Management Administration previously approved critical disaster funding last week.  However, the Oregon delegation says the state’s situation has worsened since then, with the death toll climbing, hazardous smoke blanketing the state and entire communities lying decimated.

The search continues for dozens of people who are missing among deadly wildfires burning across the state of Oregon.  

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management says 50 people are unaccounted for, with 22 of those people confirmed as missing.  The agency is urging all evacuees to register with the American Red Cross as they continue to search for survivors.  So far, ten people have been killed by the fires, according to the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office.  Officials initially reported ten deaths yesterday, but authorities in Jackson County have determined two sets of remains thought to be human were actually animals.  

Meanwhile, the governor calls the smoke blanketing the state a reminder that “this tragedy has not yet come to an end.” 

Pacific Power says electric service is coming back on for customers across the region as more than 500 Pacific Power employees and contractors are at work repairing equipment and jump- starting community recovery from Lincoln City to Glide to Happy Camp.

As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, approximately 5,500 customers remain without service in Oregon and northern California due to damage inflicted by a historic wind storm. At peak a week ago, more than 60,000 were without power. Most recently, power was restored to 800 customers in Lincoln City.

“This has been a tremendously trying week for all our customers affected by this unparalleled disaster,” said David Lucas, vice president of operations. “Our communities are showing such resilience and their appreciation for the frontline responders and our crews is a terrific statement about the people we are privileged to serve.”

Communities with the largest number of customers without power include:

  • Medford area, 3,100 customers
  • Happy Camp, Calif., 300
  • Lincoln City, 700
  • Glide/Umpqua Canyon, 500

·         Fire Relief Resources in Jackson County

  • Medford: ACCESS is collaborating with community partners to help distribute resources and provide a place for donations in Jackson County. For a full list of updates and resources please visit accesshelps.org.
  • Housing Connection Portal
  • ACCESS has created an online portal to help connect those who have homes or rooms to share with those who have been displaced by local fires. Staff will work on matching and housing. Visit accesshelps.org/housingconnection
  • ACCESS Fire Relief Program
  • The ACCESS Fire Relief Program helps those in Jackson County who have lost their homes due to local wildfires. ACCESS can provide: temporary shelter assistance, deposit assistance, food assistance, temporary housing connections, and referrals to other resources. To apply call 541-414-0309 or email firerelief@accesshelps.org
  • ACCESS Food and Supply Distribution – This week only
  • ACCESS will be setting up distributions sites this week for those who have been displaced by the local fires. The items will include convenience food, personal care items, and bedding while supplies last.
  • · North Medford Walmart Parking Lot – Tuesday and Thursday – 6:30-8:00pm
  • · Eagle Point Walmart Parking Lot – Wednesday Friday – 6:30-8:00pm
  • Food Drives and Food Donations
  • ACCESS highly encourages people to host virtual food drives to help raise funds to buy food. As the local food bank, ACCESS is able to leverage funds and buy food at a discounted rate. For every $1 we can provide four meals.
  • If people want to donate food, the items ACCESS most needs are: peanut butter, canned meat and tuna, toiletries (no clothes donations, please)
  • ACCESS will keep our list updated on the website and social media please check to see what the community needs most.
  • Donation locations:
  • · Online through ACCESS Virtual Food Drive – accesshelps.org/fooddrives
  • · ACCESS Monday – Friday between 9am-4pm at 3630 Aviation Way Medford
  • · Set Free Ministry (God’s Food Pantry) – Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 10am-2pm
  • · St. John’s Lutheran (Eagle Point Pantry) Monday – Friday from 10am-2pm
  • · Harry & David’s Country Village every day from 9am-5pm
  • State and Government Assistance
  • The Wildfire Damage Housing Relief Account Program assists households of lower-income that suffer a loss of housing due to a wildfire. Applicants must provide documentation of loss, proof of homeownership, and proof of household income. Visit oregon.gov/ohcs/housing-assistance for more information.
  • Help After a Disaster – FEMA Individual Assistance
  • Assistance from FEMA may help you and members of your household affected by a disaster take care of necessary expenses and serious needs that cannot be met through insurance or other forms of assistance.
  • Disaster survivors may apply for the Individuals and Households Program or check their application status at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. Disaster survivors may call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362 to register for assistance or check their application status. Disaster survivors who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability and use a Text Telephone (TTY) may call 800-462-7585. Disaster survivors who use 711 or VRS (Video Relay Service) may call 800-621-3362.

A county judge has decided the Oregon Republican Party should be permitted to place its November election statement in the state voting guide although the secretary of state’s office says the party missed the deadline by seconds.

Judge Channing Bennett on Monday ruled that Republican chairman Bill Currier completed his portion of the transaction in the minute before the 5 p.m. deadline on Aug. 25, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. Bennett said that is more important than the time at which the state finished processing the filing.

Democrats, looking for any way to thwart Republicans in the state, have refused to comment and neither has Gov. Brown’s office.  It wasn’t immediately known if the state would appeal. Bennett said The Oregon Voters’ Pamphlet, which includes statements from candidates and information on ballot measures, must go to print Friday to get to voters on time.

Alaska Airlines has suspended many flights in and out of Portland this week as wildfire smoke inundates the region. It’s also suspending operations in Spokane and canceling some flights in Eugene, Medford, Redmond, Pasco and Walla Walla.

Those expecting to travel in the next few days should contact the airline to check on cancellations.  Alaska is the busiest airline serving PDX. The suspension also applies to sister airline Horizon Air.

The Port of Portland, which runs the airport, said no other airline has taken a similar step yet. It said Alaska canceled 74 flights Monday. The coronavirus pandemic had already severely diminished travel through PDX. Alaska’s decision Monday, though, underscores just how awful Oregon’s wildfire crisis has become.

On September 7, multiple fires along Highway 22 swept through the Fishermen’s Bend Recreation Site, destroying much of the popular BLM-managed campground.

Upon visiting the site, an American flag that had not been lowered upon evacuation was found proudly flying over the charred ground.

The much-loved Fishermen’s Bend Recreation Site just 30 minutes east of Salem featured dozens of campsites, well-groomed hiking trails, and tremendous river access, including a boat ramp, in the Cascade foothills.

Apart from the flag, “very little else remains at the recreation site,” according to Northwest District Manager Jose Linares.

To see more images of the remains of the Fishermen’s Bend Recreation Site, visit BLM-OR/WA’s Flickrhttps://www.flickr.com/search/?user_id=50169152%40N06&view_all=1&text=Fire%20destroys%20Fishermen%27s%20Bend%20Recreation%20Site

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of a Portland-area man, Richard Eric Singlestad, for his role in the recent civil unrest.

The FBI has charged Singlestad, age 26, with civil disorder for an alleged assault on a law enforcement officer. As part of this fugitive effort, the FBI is also releasing an “FBI Wanted” poster and Facebook ad.

This is a joint investigation with the U.S. Marshals Service. Anyone with information on Singlestad’s location can call the U.S. Marshals Service at (800) 336-0102, submit a tip online at https://www.usmarshals.gov/tips/, call the FBI at (503) 224-4181, or submit a tip online to the FBI at https://tips.fbi.gov.

Richard Eric Singlestad

Sex: Male

Race: White

Height: 6’0″

Weight: 170

Hair: Blond

Eyes: Hazel

According to the FBI criminal complaint filed in this case, at approximately 10:30 p.m. on June 27, 2020, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) declared an unlawful assembly and ordered a group of individuals in the area of SW 3rd Avenue and Main Street to disperse. The crowd remained in the area. When PPB officers responded to move the crowds out of the area and clear barricades that had been placed in the street, the crowd began throwing rocks, glass bottles, and paint at the officers. Officers were able to clear the crowd and re-open the streets. After officers left the area, the crowd returned and blocked the street again. 

At approximately 1:20 a.m. on June 28, 2020, the crowd moved to block the door to the PPB Central Precinct and the roll down gates located at 1111 SW 2nd Avenue. Officers inside Central Precinct could hear the demonstrators ramming the front door with a hard object. An officer observed Singlestad standing less than five feet away with a skateboard gripped in both hands. Based on the noise heard, Singlestad’s location, and the skateboard in his hands, the officer believed Singlestad was the person who had been hitting the door. While Singlestad was being taken into custody, he resisted arrest by forcefully pulling his arms away from officers and striking one officer in the face with the skateboard. The officer experienced swelling, significant pain, and discoloration in his face as a result of the strike. 

Singlestad’s FBI wanted poster can be found at https://www.fbi.gov/wanted/additional/richard-eric-singlestad

Recreational use advisory issued for Moore Park and the surrounding area on Upper Klamath Lake Sept. 16

The Oregon Health Authority issued a recreational use health advisory today for Moore Park and closely surrounding areas on Upper Klamath Lake due to the presence of a cyanobacterial bloom and cyanotoxins above recreational use values for human exposure.

People should avoid swimming and high-speed water activities, such as water skiing or power boating, in areas of the lake where blooms are identified. Although toxins are not absorbed through the skin, people who have skin sensitivities may experience a puffy red rash.

People are encouraged to visit Upper Klamath Lake and enjoy activities such as fishing, camping, hiking, biking, picnicking and bird watching. Boating is safe as long as speeds do not create excessive water spray, which could lead to inhalation risk.

Drinking water
Drinking water directly from areas of the lake affected by a bloom is especially dangerous. Toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating water with camping-style filters. Contact campground management or the local health department with questions about water available at nearby campgrounds or day use areas.

People who are not on a well or a public water system and draw in-home water directly from an affected area are advised to use an alternative water source because not all private treatment systems are proven effective in removing cyanotoxins.

Children and pets
Children and pets are at increased risk for exposure because of their size and level of activity. People who bring their pets to a lake with areas affected by a bloom for recreation activities, regardless of whether a recreational use health advisory is in place, should take special precautions to keep them from drinking from or swimming in these areas. Dogs can also be exposed to cyanotoxins when present by licking their fur, licking cyanobacteria off rocks or eating cells from a bloom.

Fishing
Fish caught from areas where cyanobacterial blooms are present should have fat, skin and organs removed before cooking or freezing, as toxins are more likely to collect in these tissues. Fillets should also be rinsed with clean water.

SymptomsExposure to cyanotoxins can be serious and result in a range of symptoms, from those similar to food poisoning such as stomach cramping, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, to more serious symptoms like numbness, tingling, dizziness and shortness of breath that may require medical attention.For health information or to report an illness, contact the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) at 971-673-0482.

Must Read

National Park Service Lists Britt Gardens Site in Jacksonville in the National Register of Historic Places

Brian Casey

Rogue Valley News, Thursday, Sept. 3 – OHA With Safety Precautions for Labor Day Weekend; Wear a Mask, Protect Family and Friends

Brian Casey

Rogue Valley News, Monday; No Sign of Missing Woman, Geraldine Hendricks

Brian Casey