Rogue Valley News, Thursday 4/22 – Man Arrested Following Two-Alarm Fire in White City-Hundreds Lose Power, Expect Delays At South Medford I-5 Interchange ODOT Project

The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Rogue Valley from the digital home of Southern Oregon, from Wynne Broadcasting’s RogueValleyMagazine.com

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather

Today- Sunny, with a high near 75. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.

Friday- Mostly sunny, with a high near 75. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Saturday- Showers. High near 57. West northwest wind 3 to 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Sunday- Showers, with thunderstorms also possible after 2pm. Snow level 4000 feet. High near 55. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Monday- A chance of showers. Snow level 3400 feet rising to 4500 feet in the afternoon. Partly sunny, with a high near 59.

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Oregon reports 989 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 6 new deaths

There are six new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,466. The Oregon Health Authority reported 989 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 177,134.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (6), Benton (24), Clackamas (61), Clatsop (7), Columbia (7), Coos (2), Crook (4), Curry (5), Deschutes (99), Douglas (7), Grant (10), Harney (2),  Hood River (5), Jackson (93), Jefferson (3), Josephine (23), Klamath (34), Lake (3), Lane (82), Linn (33), Malheur (3), Marion (114), Morrow (3), Multnomah (167), Polk (20), Tillamook (5), Umatilla (16), Wallowa (1), Wasco (3), Washington (134) and Yamhill (13).

Note: Reported case counts and electronic laboratory report (ELR) totals were lower than expected yesterday due to unexpected downtime of Opera, Oregon’s COVID-19 case database, which occurred during business hours. ELRs that were delayed from the downtime were processed yesterday and contribute to today’s high case count.

Weekly COVID-19 reports

The Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 Weekly Report, released today, shows a fourth consecutive week of surging daily cases and higher hospitalizations than the previous week.

OHA reported 4,742 new daily cases of COVID-19 during the week of Monday, April 12 through Sunday, April 18. That represents a 27% increase from the previous week and marks the fourth consecutive week in which daily cases have increased by at least 20%.

New COVID-19 related hospitalizations rose to 171, up from 156 last week.

There were 19 reported COVID-19 related deaths.

There were 113,817 tests for COVID-19 for the week of April 11 through April 17. The percentage of positive tests was 5.3%.

People 70 years of age and older have accounted for 40% of COVID-19 related hospitalizations and 76% of COVID-19 related deaths.

Today’s COVID-19 Weekly Outbreak Report shows 24 active COVID-19 outbreaks in senior living communities and congregate living settings, with three or more confirmed cases and one or more COVID-19 related deaths.

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 39,882 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 26,407 doses were administered on April 20 and 13,475 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on April 20.

The 7-day running average is now 33,933 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered a total of 1,369,371 doses of Pfizer, 1,153,611 doses of Moderna and 90,301 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. As of today, 1,065,266 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 1,635,625 who have had at least one dose.

Cumulative daily totals can take several days to finalize because providers have 72 hours to report doses administered and technical challenges have caused many providers to lag in their reporting. OHA has been providing technical support to vaccination sites to improve the timeliness of their data entry into the state’s ALERT Immunization Information System (IIS).

To date,1,683,045 doses of Pfizer,1,411,700 doses of Moderna and 215,500 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered to sites across Oregon.

These data are preliminary and subject to change. OHA’s dashboards provide regularly updated vaccination data, and Oregon’s dashboard has been updated today.

Despite climbing case rates in southern Oregon’s most populous counties, a recently adopted statewide hospitalization metric continues to keep those counties from being moved from High-Risk status up to Extreme Risk.

Governor Kate Brown’s office released the state’s latest county risk levels on Tuesday. For southern Oregon, the
changes are few — Curry County will move down to Moderate Risk status from High Risk. Jackson, Josephine and Klamath counties remain at High Risk despite case rates that would otherwise qualify them for Extreme Risk status, while Lake County will continue at Lower Risk.

With vaccination for COVID-19 continuing across the state — and with the majority of Oregon seniors having received a vaccine — the decision to add a statewide hospitalization metric attempts to gauge the severity of outbreaks and the risk of overwhelming health care systems, rather than looking at positive cases alone.

For those counties currently kept at High Risk in spite of rising cases, Extreme Risk status will only come if the state hits several metrics — COVID-19 patients occupying 300 hospital beds or more, and a 15 percent increase in the seven-day hospitalization average over the last week.

You can see more information and charts for Weekly County Metrics here: https://www.oregon.gov/oha/covid19/Documents/DataReports/Weekly-County-Metrics.pdf

LOCAL HEADLINES:

Man Arrested Following Two-Alarm Fire in White City-Hundreds Lose Power

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office arrested one man after a large two-alarm structure fire at a storage facility in White City on Wednesday night.

When crews arrived the building was engulfed in flames, and it took them about 30 minutes to get the fire completely out.

Bob Horton, Fire Chief for Fire District 3 says four people were in or around the building at the time the fire started. Two have been transported to the hospital, and others involved are being interviewed.

Callers into 911 reported at least one explosion prior to the fire and the exact address is 1508 Antelope Road.

According to Pacific Power, more than 200 homes are without power. Dispatch confirmed crews in the area are working to secure power lines. Witnesses near the scene say they could see explosions coming from the structure.

Twenty firefighters responded in order to contain the fire from spreading to nearby businesses. Jackson Co. Sheriff’s Office is investigating the fire.

Expect Delays At South Medford I-5 Interchange ODOT Project

Oregon Department of Transportation : Project-Details : Projects : State of  Oregon

Work on the south Medford I-5 interchange may be the source of traffic delays from the end of April through mid-May, but the Oregon Department of Transportation says that the purpose of the project is to reduce the chance of backups down the road.

Beginning the night of April 25, crews will be working to widen the southbound Exit 27 off-ramp. As a result, off-ramp traffic widths will be restricted through May 14 while the widening project is underway.

From April 25 through May 14, drivers may see peak morning and afternoon ramp delays, which could also back up traffic on I-5. Night construction will be done behind a concrete barrier, which will be in place for about half of the project.

The design and construction of the project are being completed by Knife River Materials and financed by Pacific Retirement Services, the parent company for Rogue Valley Manor. ODOT said that the project is meant to offset future Manor development in southeast Medford.

INFORMATION on Project: https://www.oregon.gov/odot/Projects/Project%20Documents/Final_TechnicalMemo_1.pdf

Oregon Wildfire Recovery Update – April 21, 2021

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Jackson County, OR – April 19, 2021 – Senator Ron Wyden toured the Totem Pole Mobile Home Park, a future short-term housing site for wildfire survivors, with Jackson County, FEMA, Debris Management Task Force/Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) leadership to see the progress being made and learn how debris removal work is supporting the rebuilding of local communities.

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management has posted the Oregon Wildfire Recovery Update for April 21, 2021, to the Oregon Wildfire Resources page. See today’s Wildfire Recovery update here.

FEMA trailers are lined up and ready to be shipped to housing locations in wildfire affected areas. Trailers like these will allow survivors to stay in their communities and provide stability for families. (FEMA Photo by Jeremy Hollen) Oregon Office of Emergency Management

AROUND the STATE of OREGON

Oregon Firefighters Busy Already

Firefighters Continue To Make Significant Progress On The Ponina Fire Near Beatty

Firefighters continue to make excellent progress on the Ponina Fire burning approximately 5 miles north of Beatty. The fire is 1,641 acres and 60 percent contained. The cause is under investigation. The fire was reported Sunday around 2:30 p.m. The fire is fully lined and mop-up activities are continuing today. Firefighters were able to start repair work yesterday and will continue that work today. The fire is burning in timber and brush with creeping and smoldering fire behavior. There is interior smoke.

200-acre Marshall’s Place Fire in Tiller reported yesterday afternoon

Crews from the Douglas Forest Protective Association responded to a natural cover fire located approximately 4 miles north of Tiller, Tuesday afternoon.

The Marshall’s Place Fire is estimated to be around 200 acres in size, however, more accurate mapping will be conducted in the coming days.

No homes have been threatened by the Marshall’s Place Fire and the cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

Firefighters arrived on scene of the Marshall’s Place Fire shortly after 3:00 PM and reported that it was approximately 70 acres in size, burning in logging slash and second growth timber.  Strong, gusty winds fanned the flames, resulting in numerous spot fires which accelerated the fire’s growth.

Nine engine crews, three water tenders, two bull dozers, and numerous industrial landowner representatives worked through the afternoon to construct containment lines around the perimeter of the fire.  Three 20-person hand crews were ordered to assist with suppression efforts last night.

Firefighters took advantage of favorable conditions overnight and made good progress towards containing the blaze.  Crews reported that fire activity significantly decreased Tuesday evening after sunset due to increased humidity levels and decreased wind speeds.  Hand crews and bull dozers assigned to the incident continued to work on the fire overnight and completed containment lines around the entire perimeter of the Marshall’s Place Fire by early Wednesday morning.

Today, 110 personnel from the Douglas Forest Protective Association, Oregon Department of Forestry, Coos Forest Protective Association, industrial landowners, and private contractors are assigned to the fire.  Crews and equipment will be focused on mopping up hot spots within the perimeter of the fire in addition to holding and improving containment lines.  Smoke from the interior of the fire may be visible for the next couple days.

Current Wildfire Information

Current wildfire information can be found on the ODF Wildfire blog, the ODF Fire Statistics Database, or the National Wildfire Coordinating Group active large fires map.

During fire season, the current fire season map will show active large fires ODF is tracking in the state and the locations of year-to-date lightning and human-caused fires (statistical fires where ODF is the primary protection agency).

Active large fires map

Klamath Basin Tribes And Environmentalists Send Letter To President Biden Asking for $250 in Relief Funds

Klamath Basin Tribes, fishermen’s organizations and environmental groups sent a letter to President Joe Biden last Friday requesting more than $250 million in relief funds to cope with this year’s historic drought.

The Klamath, Yurok and Karuk Tribes, along with American Rivers, the California Waterfowl Association, California Trout, the Fly Fishers International Northern California Council, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Sustainable Northwest and Trout Unlimited, said the relief would serve as a “down payment toward comprehensive long-term solutions.”

The Klamath Basin’s water crisis is already on the federal radar. Several weeks ago, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack released a joint statement saying they’re “committed to an all-hands-on-deck approach that both minimizes the impacts of the drought and develops a long-term plan to facilitate conservation and economic growth.”

So far, roughly $25 million has been allocated to drought relief for farmers and ranchers in the Upper Klamath Basin, which irrigators say isn’t nearly enough to cover the combined cost of crop losses and operations fees for Project farmers.

Tribes have been given $3 million for restoration projects, which they’ve also critiqued.

Liz Parrish, Known As “The Iditarod’s Littlest Musher” Has Died

Liz Parrish, known as “The Iditarod’s Littlest Musher,” died Saturday in a Portland hospital a day before her 63rd birthday. Parrish, who finished the 2008 Iditarod dog sled race, died from complications from surgery to stabilize her back. She originally underwent two days of surgery, with the second day involving a 12-hour procedure to stabilize her spine. Following those surgeries, kidney problems necessitated a third emergency surgery.

The former owner of the Crystalwood Lodge near Rocky Point, Parrish was known for her vigor and ability to overcome adversity despite her size: 4 feet, 9 inches and less than 100 pounds. Parrish, who was sometimes called a “dog whisperer,” was often seen training with her team on backroads and, during winter, snow-covered trails in the backcountry and woods around the Klamath Basin.

Bureau of Land Management Issues Payments

BLM Oregon & Washington - Home | Facebook

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued $26.9 million in payments from Fiscal Year 2020 to 18 counties in western Oregon under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS Act). Most of the funding will go directly to the counties including just over $750,000 to Klamath County, supporting investments in
education, infrastructure, public safety, and health services.

The BLM is charged with managing 2.4 million acres of Oregon and California Railroad Revested Lands, known
as the O&C Lands, in 18 western Oregon counties for sustainable timber harvest. The revenue from harvests is shared with those 18 counties.

The SRS Act payments are made in lieu of timber harvest receipts based on a formula set by Congress. The O&C
lands are some of the most productive timberlands in the world. They also contain a diversity of plant and animal species, recreation areas, mining claims, grazing lands, cultural and historical resources, scenic areas, wild and scenic rivers, and wilderness.

Cooperative projects funded by the SRS Act include wildfire hazard reduction, stream and watershed restoration, forest road maintenance, road decommissioning or obliteration, control of noxious weeds, improvement of fish and wildlife habitat, and opportunities for youth training and employment.

Arrests in Portland Protests

The Portland Police Bureau says officers arrested at least two people Tuesday night during demonstrations in response to yesterday’s conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd last spring.  

Police say one person was arrested after allegedly punching an officer.  The Oregonian reports video of the incident shows multiple police officers respond to the punch by piling on the suspect, with one officer throwing repeated punches.  Police say demonstrators also broke multiple windows.  Police declared an unlawful assembly around 10 p.m.

Meanwhile, Governor Kate Brown says the conviction of Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd is one step toward the goal of racial justice and police reform.  In a statement released after the verdict announcement, Brown says there’s still much work to be done to dismantle the structures of racism and inequality.  She says the nation
grieves for the loss of George Floyd and honor his memory by continuing the hard work to increase police accountability.

Wienermobile Will Roll into Bend this Weekend

The world’s most famous car (besides the Batmobile and Popemobile) rolls into Central Oregon this weekend.

Oscar Mayer’s Wienermobile will park itself outside the world’s last Blockbuster Video store in Bend from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m Saturday.

On Sunday you can find the 27-foot-long at the Village at Sunriver between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

There are currently six Wienermobiles cruising around the country throughout the year, stopping for photo ops and tours along the way.

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