Rogue Valley News, Monday, 9/21 – Gov Brown Visit Almeda Fire Area Today

The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Rogue Valley and around the state of Oregon from the online digital home of the valley, RogueValleyMagazine.com.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Rogue Valley Weather

Tonight    Widespread haze before 2am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 53. West northwest wind 5 to 9 mph becoming light and variable after midnight.

Tuesday   Mostly sunny, with a high near 83. Calm wind becoming north around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Wednesday  Mostly sunny, with a high near 84. Overnight, rain likely, mainly after 11pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 55. West wind 5 to 14 mph becoming south in the evening. Winds could gust as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Thursday  A 50 percent chance of showers, mainly before 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 72.

Friday  Mostly sunny, with a high near 74.

Saturday   Mostly sunny, with a high near 81

Today’s Headlines

COVID-19 has claimed one more life in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 526, the Oregon Health Authority reported yesterday.

Oregon Health Authority reported 208 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today bringing the state total to 30,801.

OBENCHAIN FIRE UPDATE

A fire that once threatened numerous communities, particularly Butte Falls, is in the mop-up phase.

On the morning of September 21, the South Obenchain Fire covered an estimated 32,671 acres and was 65% contained. All perimeters around the fire—centered in the mountains between the communities of Shady Cove, Butte Falls, and Eagle Point—were under control with progress being made up to 300 feet into the interior of the fire. The entire west side was in patrol status. However, visible flames and smoke may be visible until a season-ending rain or snow event.

The cause of the South Obenchain Fire remains under investigation.

The Dutch Bros Foundation will give $250,000 toward wildfire relief efforts throughout the Western U.S., the company announced last week.

“It’s devastating to see what’s happening across our western states,” said Katie Hutchinson, vice president of philanthropy at Dutch Bros Coffee. “Our customers and communities have always been so supportive of us, we’re grateful for the opportunity to support them.”

Funds will be split between the Red Cross Western Wildfires FundMRG Rogue Valley Relief Fund, and the Latino Community Foundation Northern CA Wildfire Relief Fund — geared toward providing food, housing, and other resources to those impacted by the recent fires.

Governor Kate Brown came to southern Oregon on Monday, meeting with first responders and touring areas that were devastated by the Almeda Fire nearly three weeks ago.

Early in the day, Brown visited an area directly across from the Talent Police Department. While the station remains standing, nothing but debris remains of the apartments across the street.

At the Jackson County Fire District 5 station in Talent, the Governor spoke with firefighters, law enforcement officers, and other first responders involved in the Almeda Fire efforts. While most of the conversations were hushed and somber, there were occasional moments of levity.

“What do you guys need, besides money?” Brown asked one firefighter on Monday.

“That’s about it,” he replied, earning chuckles from the other first responders nearby. The Governor promised to act accordingly.

“Today I surveyed the devastation caused by the Almeda Fire,” Brown said in a statement issued later in the day. “From seeing it firsthand and talking with evacuees, the losses in Medford, Ashland, Phoenix, and Talent are hard to comprehend. My priority is to secure the resources necessary to help rebuild an even stronger Southern Oregon.”

The Red Cross congregate care facility at the Josephine County Fairgrounds will close starting today, September 21.

That is according to Josephine County which says the facility will close because the Red Cross will complete its mission of returning evacuees to their homes or placing them in temporary lodging. 

Josephine County Public Health opened an emergency medical shelter on September 8, 2020. On September 12, the shelter was transitioned into a congregate shelter and was taken over by the Red Cross.  About 130 people stayed at the shelter. 

Josephine County says the Red Cross is ready to open the facilities if it is needed.

AROUND THE STATE OF OREGON

IN DOUGLAS COUNTY, ARCHIE FIRE UPDATE

Over 1,000 people are still working to contain a wildfire burning in Douglas County. The Archie Creek Fire started on the morning of September 8 close to Steamboat Springs on Highway 138 near Glide. Since then, it’s grown to 131,598 acres in size.

Today, cooler weather patterns allowed firefighters to reinforce containment lines with most of the fire smoldering behind previously established lines. Upcoming rain was forecasted as containment was estimated to be 41%.

Firefighters believe the cause of the Archie Creek Fire was a lightning strike.

TWO FOUR TWO FIRE NEAR CHILOQUIN UPDATE
Size: 14,473 Acres Containment: 64%
Firefighters worked throughout the day yesterday extinguishing heat next to the containment line. This is labor intensive work as they dig out stump holes and open up dozer berms to expose buried heat under the dirt. Last night crews continued to patrol for visible hot spots along Highway 97 and Highway 62. Crews worked through the night to extinguish what they could and marked areas they did not get to for the day shift. It will be warmer and drier with light winds over the fire area today. The extended weather forecast shows an increasing chance of precipitation over the fire late this week.

BRATTAIN FIRE UPDATE NEAR PAISLEY

September 21, 2020 @ 9 AM
SIZE:
  50,447 acres
CONTAINMENT:  52%
PERSONNEL:  478

Today:

Expect the same creeping and smoldering we saw yesterday, with smoke mostly coming from the interior in the northwest corner of the fire. Fuels along the line and interior pockets will continue to burn actively. Breezy conditions will continue Monday-Wednesday. We will continue mop-up and patrol lines in all divisions. Priority activities today include mop-up on the dozer line behind Withers Ranch and suppression activity repair/rehabilitation. A special landowner meeting was held today for landowners impacted by the Brattain Fire.

Evacuations:

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office has updated the following evacuation notices:

Level 2 (Set) – South of the Murphy Ranch on Clover Flat Road east to Valley Falls

Level 1 (Ready) –Highway 395 from Valley Falls east to Chandler State Park; Highway 31 from Summer Lake Store south to Red House Lane, all of Paisley to Valley Falls; Clover Flat Road from Hwy 31 (Beachler’s Corner) to Murphy Ranch

Forest Closure:

From Forest Road 29 southeast to Forest Road 3510 and the 28 Road east, all National Forest System lands and facilities are closed per Forest Closure Order 06-02-03-20-03. Forest Road 3315 is closed; the 28 Road is open.

Firefighting crews continue to operate on a 24-hour schedule and are battling winds, extremely dry conditions and shortages of firefighting resources.

For all fire updates in Oregon, click here.

The State of Oregon Office of the Governor says Oregon Governor Kate Brown is issuing vetoes of several line-item appropriations to preserve funding for Oregon’s emergency wildfire response efforts. The vetoes are also aimed at maintaining a balanced budget.

In total, the Governor’s Office says the vetoes will preserve over 65 million dollars. That will improve the state’s ending balance budget 164.3 million dollars in general funds and 16.7 million dollars in lottery funds. 

The Governor also requested that legislators reserve at least 150 million dollars in the state’s emergency fund for upcoming requests related to Oregon fires.

More than 130,000 Oregonians will receive a special mailing this month from the IRS encouraging them to see if they’re eligible to claim an Economic Impact Payment.

The IRS will mail the letters to people who typically aren’t required to file federal income tax returns but may qualify for an Economic Impact Payment. The letter urges recipients to visit the special Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info tool on IRS.gov before the Oct. 15 deadline to register for an Economic Impact Payment. 

More than 7 million people nationwide have already used the Non-Filers tool to register for a payment.

This month’s letters, delivered from an IRS address, are being sent to people who haven’t filed a return for either 2018 or 2019. Based on an internal analysis, these are people who don’t typically have a tax return filing requirement because they appear to have income below the filing threshold based on Forms W-2 and 1099 and other third-party statements available to the IRS.

The letter urges the recipient to register at IRS.gov by Oct. 15 in order to receive a payment by the end of the year. Individuals can receive up to $1,200, and married couples can receive up to $2,400. People with qualifying children under age 17 at the end of 2019 can get up to an additional $500 for each qualifying child.

The IRS cautions that receiving a letter is not a guarantee of eligibility. An individual is likely eligible for an Economic Impact Payment if they:

  • Are a U.S. citizen or resident alien.
  • Have a work-eligible Social Security number.
  • Can’t be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s federal income tax return.

For more information on eligibility requirements, see the Economic Impact Payment eligibility FAQ on IRS.gov.

People who are eligible should not wait to receive a letter and should register now. Alternatively, people can wait until next year and claim the recovery rebate credit on their 2020 federal income tax return by filing in 2021.

The Oregon Department of Transportation of Southwest Oregon says Oregon 99 is now open between Medford and Ashland in the Almeda Fire zone. 

ODOT says to expect intermittent delays and lane closures as utility and other crews will continue working in the area.  ODOT also says to obey all closure and hazard zones that are cordoned-off for public safety.

Flying is tricky due to smoke, temporary flight restrictions over wild fires and on-and-off rain showers, but four Oregon and one Washington Civil Air Patrol aircraft joined the effort to recover from devastating wild fires today.

Working with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Oregon Emergency Management (OEM), CAP is tasked with photographing key infrastructure from the air to help assess damage caused by fires that have ravaged almost 1 million acres in the state this year. Air crews composed of a mission pilot, an observer, and an airborne photographer are taking on assignments all over Oregon.

Using high resolution digital cameras, the highly trained CAP aircrews returned more than 151 images to emergency operations supervisors yesterday.  Eight sorties were flown yesterday as the smoke started clearing and thundershowers dissipated.

“Conditions were challenging,” said 1st Lt Jonathan Ritchie, a pilot on Friday and Saturday sorties. “Low cloud layers interfered with access to target areas. Some crews could get to their target areas. It was a little bit challenging working around the TFRs (temporary flight restrictions). ATC (air traffic control) was very helpful in keeping us where we needed to be.”

“It is quite satisfying to be a pilot on these missions,” he said. “We do a lot of training to prepare for these kind of things. We have a great staff running the mission base to plan our sorties and keep us safe.”

Oregon CAP aircraft based in Hillsboro, Medford, Redmond, Salem and Vancouver, Wash., participated Friday. They flew assignments for the Beachie Creek Fire, the Riverside Fire, the Brittain Fire, the S. Oberchain Fire, and the Archie Creek Fire.

This is the fourth day of CAP participation. More than 33 CAP volunteers have worked on organizing, flying, and recording activities.  In addition, CAP has a couple of highly trained emergency services personnel that are imbedded with the OEM in Salem. They are responding to requests for air support and advising on other inter-agency cooperation.

Flying in the time of Coronavirus adds complications, as members of the aircrew need to follow special procedures to keep each other safe and protect the equipment.  You cannot use normal sanitizing wipes on aircraft instruments and surfaces, for instance.

CAP in Oregon has 290 adult volunteers who train vigorously each year to be ready to help in situations like Oregon’s unprecedented onslaught of wild fires that have burned thousands of structures and displaced more Oregonians that any emergency in years.  CAP trains to FEMA standards so they can operate jointly with other emergency agencies.  CAP also has 247 cadet members, who train in leadership, character development, physical fitness and citizenship.  Many of them train in emergency services as well, and participate in ground search and rescue and detecting emergency signals emitted by aircraft in distress.

About Civil Air Patrol
Established in 1941, Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and as such is a member of its Total Force. In its auxiliary role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 single-engine Cessna aircraft and 1,944 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) and performs about 90% of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.

Investigators say the suspect in last month’s deadly shooting of a pro-Trump activist in Portland pointed a gun at officers before they shot and killed him.  

The team investigating the incident says it’s not yet clear whether 48-year-old Michael Reinoehl fired his gun before officers opened fire on him in Lacey, Washington on September 3rd.  

Officers from a federal fugitive task force moved in on Reinoehl on the same day that Vice News published an interview in which Reinoehl claims he shot 39-year-old Aaron “Jay” Danielson on August 29th in self-defense because he thought the Patriot Prayer member was going to stab him and a friend.  Police found a loaded gun on Danielson’s body along with a baton and a can of bear spray, which witnesses say he used to spray Reinoehl before Reinoehl shot him.

FATAL CRASH HWY 42 – DOUGLAS COUNTY

On Saturday, September 19, 2020 at approximately 9:15 P.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a two vehicle crash on Hwy 42 near milepost 74.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a Dodge Ram pickup, operated by Dustin Robinson (36) from Sutherlin, was westbound when it went off the road.  He struck a Pontiac Grand AM, operated by William McCullough IV (20) from Roseburg,  that was at the intersection of Jackie Avenue and Hwy 42.  

McCullough IV and his passenger, Mark Ritter (20) from Roseburg, sustained fatal injuries and were pronounced deceased. 

Robinson sustained minor injures from the crash.  

OSP was assisted by Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Winston Police Department, Douglas County Fire District 2, ODOT and the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office. 

Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (Robinson) is being investigated as a possible factor in the crash.  Any further information will be released by or with approval from the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office.

FATAL CRASH HWY 20 – LINN COUNTY

On Sunday, September 20, 2020, at approximately 7:10 A.M.,Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Hwy 20 near milepost 67.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a Nissan Altima, operated by Robert Snyder (60) of Portland, was westbound on Hwy 20 when it went off the road and struck a tree.

Synder sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.

On September 13, 2020 Oregon State Police Troopers received information that fresh skeletal remains of a bull elk had been discovered on private property between Mt. Richmond Road and Williams Canyon Road.

Evidence at the scene is consistent with a bull elk harvested in the first two weeks of the general archery season.

The person(s) responsible did not have permission to hunt on the property.

The Oregon Hunters Association of Yamhill County has agreed to match the Turn In Poachers (TIP) program reward of $500 for a total reward of $1,000.

The Oregon State Police is requesting that any person with information about this incident contact Oregon State Police Northern Command Center at 1-800-442-0776 or *OSP and leave information for Trooper Tayler Jerome if you are wishing to remain anonymous you may also contact the OSP through the Turn in Poachers line at TIP Hotline: 1-800-452-7888 or TIP E-Mail: TIP@state.or.us (Monitored M-F 8:00AM – 5:00PM)

The TIP program offers preference point rewards for information leading to an arrest or issuance of a citation for the unlawful take/possession or waste of big game mammals.

The TIP program also offers cash rewards for information leading to an arrest or issuance of a citation for the unlawful take/possession or waste of Mountain Sheep, Mountain Goat, Moose, Elk, Deer, Antelope, Bear, Cougar, Wolf, Upland Birds, Waterfowl, and Furbearers. Cash rewards can also be awarded for the unlawful take of Game Fish and Shellfish and for Habitat Destruction.

How to Report a Wildlife and/or Habitat Law Violation or Suspicious Activity:

TIP Hotline: 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP(677)

TIP E-Mail: TIP@state.or.us (Monitored M-F 8:00AM – 5:00PM)

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