Rogue Valley News, Thursday 7/8 – Medford Railroad Park Opening Again, Multiple Agencies Investigating Series of Lit Fires on July 4th

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

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather

Heat Advisory in effect from July 9, 02:00 PM PDT until July 11, 01:00 PM PDT

Today– Patchy smoke after 3pm. Sunny and hot, with a high near 96. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 8 mph in the afternoon.

Friday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 105. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.
Saturday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 102. Calm wind.
Sunday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 101.
Monday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 100.


Oregon reports 273 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 6 new deaths

There are six new COVID-19 related death in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,788. The Oregon Health Authority reported 273 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 209,764.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (1), Benton (5), Clackamas (28), Clatsop (5), Columbia (7), Coos (6), Crook (5), Deschutes (9), Douglas (7), Grant (1), Harney (1), Hood River (1), Jackson (11), Jefferson (2), Josephine (5), Klamath (11), Lane (12), Lincoln (4), Linn (9), Marion (37), Morrow (2), Multnomah (27), Polk (9), Tillamook (2), Umatilla (18), Union (7), Wallowa (1), Washington (30), Yamhill (10).

Oregon’s 2,786th COVID-19 death is a 52-year-old man from Josephine County who tested positive on June 18 and died on July 5 at Rogue Valley Medical Center. He had underlying conditions.

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 8,632 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 5,082 doses were administered on July 6 and 3,550 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on July 6.

The seven-day running average is now 5,535 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered 2,556,310 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,750,025 first and second doses of Moderna and 171,589 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

As of today, 2,416,671 people have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 2,211,237 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series.

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, 2,965,545 doses of Pfizer, 2,240,820 doses of Moderna and 299,100 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered to sites across Oregon.

These data are preliminary and subject to change. Updated vaccination data are provided on Oregon’s COVID-19 data dashboards and have been updated today.

COVID-19 hospitalizations

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 106, which is 19 fewer than yesterday. There are 31 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is two more than yesterday.

The total number of patients in hospital beds may fluctuate between report times. The numbers do not reflect admissions per day, nor the length of hospital stay. Staffing limitations are not captured in this data and may further limit bed capacity. More information about hospital capacity can be found here.


Medford Railroad Park Opening Again

The Medford Railroad Park is opening this month for the first time in almost two years after the volunteer-run establishment was closed throughout 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last year, it was really a chance to do lots of work because there wasn’t anybody here. But without the support of the public, we wouldn’t be able to get where we are to keep it open,” said Railroad Park Board of Governors’ Secretary Tam Moore. The park has been resorting to cans and other recyclable bottle drops for money to make ends meet. It will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 25 as an initial run, and then regular public openings for August, September and October will be on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Moore says it feels like they have finally made it through to the other side. “We have, except that we lost some members of our four clubs in the meantime. So we’re looking for new recruits – people who would like to join these hobbies,” he said.

Making matters worse, the park has had to deal with break-ins and thefts of some of their most expensive model trains. The city of Medford is installing additional lighting and security cameras to prevent future incidents.

“There are always changes that go on at this park. There are significant changes going on here at the Garden Railroad Park,” Moore said. “They need to make sure that the track is safe. All of this heat works on the track and we’ve got to make sure that it’s put together correctly and that they can safely run trains there.”

Moore says that while it’s been difficult to watch the park sit unused, everyone involved was content to err on the side of caution when it came to coronavirus protocols, and they have no regrets. The four groups that run the park on a volunteer basis are the Medford Garden Railroaders, Southern Oregon Live Steamers, the Southern Oregon Railway Historical Society, and the Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club.

“We don’t anticipate problems with getting ready on time, but we may be shorthanded and we’re asking people to be patient when they come to the park. We may not have nearly as many trains running as they expect from past visits to the park,” Moore said.

Multiple Agencies Investigating Series of Lit Fires on July 4th

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a series of fires set along a rural road near the community of Beagle on Independence Day, according to the agency.

Deputies assisted firefighters that evening with five different fires spread along Meadows Road, which branches north from Sams Valley Highway between Table Rock Road and Antioch Road. JCSO said that at least two of the fires were caused by fireworks, likely thrown from a moving vehicle.

“Fortunately, all of the fires were extinguished quickly and caused no significant property damage,” the agency said.

In the 16000-block of Meadows Road, deputies found a firework that had been lit but did not entirely burn. JCSO said that the firework will be submitted for latent prints.

Jackson County Fire District 3 reported about the response to at least one of these fires on July 4, noting “quite a bit of smoke” visible from a fire in the 13000-block of Meadows Road. Firefighters and a helicopter crew from the Oregon Department of Forestry managed to knock down and line the fire with relative speed.

Anyone with information about the crime or suspicious activity along Meadows Road that evening should call the JCSO tip line at (541) 774-8333.

FEMA To Cover Cost Of Last Year’s Labor Day Wildfire Cleanup

California begins multibillion-dollar wildfire cleanup - Waste Today

The U.S. government will reimburse the state of Oregon 100% of the costs it incurred for debris removal and “emergency protective measures” related to the Labor Day wildfires last year for a 30-day period, the state’s delegation to Congress announced Wednesday.

U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley, Ron Wyden, U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader and Suzanne Bonamici, all Democrats, said they pushed the White House four times before it decided to pay the costs.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency would also reimburse Oregon for the money it spent on emergency protective measures, which included evacuations and setting up operation centers.

Since cleanup and other recovery efforts are ongoing, the state will identify the 30-day period in which FEMA will reimburse it. Here are the counties that will receive reimbursement from FEMA

Emergency Protective Measures:

  • Benton
  • Clackamas
  • Columbia
  • Coos
  • Deschutes
  • Douglas
  • Jackson
  • Jefferson
  • Josephine
  • Klamath
  • Lake
  • Lane
  • Lincoln
  • Linn
  • Marion
  • Multnomah
  • Tillamook
  • Wasco
  • Washington
  • Yamhill

Debris Removal:

  • Clackamas
  • Douglas
  • Jackson
  • Klamath
  • Lane
  • Lincoln
  • Linn
  • Marion
  • Tillamook

Permanent Preventive Measures:

  • Clackamas
  • Douglas
  • Jackson
  • Josephine
  • Klamath
  • Lane
  • Lincoln
  • Linn
  • Marion
  • Tillamook



Fires, Smoke, and Triple Digits Throughout Southern Oregon

Increased smoke is expected Thursday across Southern Oregon as multiple fires grow with temperatures rising above 100 degrees over the weekend in Medford and Klamath Falls.

The smoke could lead to a decline in air quality in Klamath, Lake, Douglas, and Jackson counties, according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. 

Northwest Current Incident Details

Incidents listed below meet large fire criteria and/or incidents with a Type 1 or 2 IMT assigned. Large incidents are defined as fires which are 100+ acres in timber or 300+ acres in grass/brush. For additional information on incidents no longer listed below please refer to the NW Large Incident Summary or Northwest Fires Utilizing Monitor, Confine, Point Zone Protection Suppression Strategies (YTD)

Lick Creek. OR-UMF-000658. ICT3. 15 mi SE of Pomeroy, WA. Start 7/7. Full Suppression. Cause: Unknown. 1,500 acres. 0% containment. Extreme fire behavior. Timber and grass. Evacuations in effect. Road closures.

Jack Fire. OR-UPF-000265. IMT2, NW Team 9 (Goff). 20 mi E of Glide, OR. Start 7/5. Full Suppression. Cause:Unknown. 2,395 acres (+995). 0% containment. Active fire behavior. Timber and brush. Structures threatened. Evacuations in effect. Road closures.

Bootleg. OR-FWF-210321.IMT2, NW Team 10 (Lawson). 15 mi NW of Beatty, OR. Start 7/6. Full Suppression. Cause: Unknown. 11,000 acres (+8,000). 1% containment. Extreme fire behavior. Timber and brush. Evacuations in effect. Road closures.

Lewis Rock. OR-952S-021160. IMT1, ODF Team 3 (McCarty) 4.5 mi S of Mitchell, OR. Start 6/30. Full Suppression. Cause: Lightning. 440 acres. 30% containment. Minimal fire behavior. Timber and grass.

Dixie Creek. OR-952S-021187. ICT3. 3 mi NW of Prairie City, OR. Start 7/03. Full Suppression. Cause: Lightning. 541 acres (+0). 75% containment. Moderate fire behavior. Timber and brush.

Bootleg Fire prompts emergency act, red flag warning issued

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act in response to another major fire in Southern Oregon, this one northeast of Klamath Falls. 

Bootleg Fire

The Bootleg Fire has grown to an estimated 11,000 acres. Nearly tripling its size yesterday. The fire burns on Fuego Mountain, 11 miles northeast of Sprague River, Ore. inside the Chiloquin Ranger District of the Fremont-Winema National Forest. 

The Bootleg Fire still has no containment. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Numerous resources are assigned to the fire and are on order.  Northwest Team 10, a Type 2 Incident Command Team lead by Incident Commander Al Lawson, arrived in the area this evening and will be taking command of the fire at 6:00 AM tomorrow. 

Today firefighters continued to gain intel and access points to the fire.  Throughout the day, they were strengthening roads and continuing to use indirect firefighting tactics.  The Klamath County Structural Taskforce started protection measures for private properties in the area.    

The fire area continued to see hot, dry conditions and winds today, contributing to extreme fire behavior.  There is a Red Flag Warning from 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM tomorrow for strong, gusty winds and low relative humidity in South Central Oregon, including over the Bootleg Fire.

The Bootleg Fire burns in steep, rugged terrain in mixed conifer and lodgepole pine.  Fire behavior is extreme and includes running, torching, and spotting.  Movement and fire growth today were observed to be moving mostly to the south and southeast.

Smoke from the fire is highly visible from Oregon State Highway 140, Sprague River Highway, Chiloquin, and the surrounding area.

Drivers should expect increased traffic in the area from fire equipment and are asked to use caution driving in the area.  Area residents and Forest visitors are asked to avoid the fire area, including Forest Roads 44, 46, and 3462, as well as Head of the River Campground and Sycan Crossing dispersed campground.

The fire is still only burning on National Forest System lands.  However, multiple structures are threatened east of the fire.

For the latest evacuation information, visit  To sign up for Klamath County alerts, visit

South Central Oregon is continuing to have an active and early fire season.  Area residents and visitors are asked to use extreme caution with anything that could spark a wildfire.  Suspected wildfires should be reported immediately to 911.

Jack Fire grows to 2,395 acres in North Umpqua Canyon 

A wildfire burning in southern Oregon continued to show explosive growth, with new maps putting the fire’s size at 2,395 acres by Wednesday morning in the North Umpqua Canyon east of Roseburg. 

The Jack Fire burning in Umpqua National Forest east of Roseburg grew to 900 acres on Tuesday.
Jack Fire

The Jack Fire brought level 2 and 3 evacuations Tuesday while closing Highway 138 for 15 miles in both directions beginning at the small outpost of Steamboat in Umpqua National Forest.  

The highway closure blocked access to places such as Diamond Lake and Crater Lake National Park from Roseburg. A recreation closure is expected today in the area, which is popular for rafting, hiking and fishing. 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act Tuesday afternoon to bring additional resources to the fire. 

“It is evident that this fire season is rapidly under way,” Brown said. “We all need to do our part to help the many firefighters battling multiple fires across Oregon.”

The evacuation map can be found here

The fire was reported at 5 p.m. Monday and grew quickly. It was attacked by local firefighters, who have since been joined by a type 2 federal firefighting team.

Level 3 evacuations — meaning “go now” — were issued for all homes, businesses and campers from mile marker 43 to Eagle Rock Campground, between Glide and Diamond Lake. About 28 addresses were impacted. 

Mitchell, OR– The Lewis Rock Fire held for the second consecutive day and remains at 440 acres. Containment has reached 15 percent. Crews were assisted by a rotation of several helicopters cooling hot spots near containment lines. Today, firefighters will continue to strengthen lines around the fire’s perimeter and to mop-up towards the interior to extinguish hot spots and prevent spot fires.

Weather conditions remain a concern with high temperatures, low relative humidity, and gusty winds. Poor humidity recovery overnight could promote more active fire behavior. The approach of a cold, dry front this afternoon could potentially further challenge the firefighting effort due to shifting winds.

John Day, Ore. – Firefighters on the Dixie Creek Fire, near Prairie City, continue to make progress mopping-up the fire.  The 541 acre fire is now 75% contained.  There is very little smoke visible within the incident. The increased containment has allowed the fire to release resources from the incident to mobilize to other fires across the state and to return home for rest.  Several interagency hotshot crews were among those resources released, these crews were integral in providing leadership on the incident, working with less experienced firefighters to provide improved methods in the mop-up process.

Crews continue to grid across the fire, with most of the work complete in the divisions with lighter fuels.  Today resources will focus on areas of heat in the timbered part of the fire.  These larger fuels are more challenging to get completely cooled.  Firefighters are using skidgines and water cats to distribute water across the fire for mop-up.

Mop-up is a slow tedious process where firefighters use water and tools to stir areas of heat until they are cool to the touch.  The risk of fire moving outside the fireline is reduced as firefighters mop-up from the edge of the fire perimeter moving further into the interior of the fire.

NWCC Blog for more information:

Gov. Brown Orders Oregon State Agencies To Cut Water Use Amid Drought

Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order directing state agencies to cut back on watering their lawns, among other conservation measures.

Oregon state agencies will have to limit water use on lands and at facilities they manage under an executive order issued by the governor Wednesday.

Gov. Kate Brown is directing state agencies to refrain from watering lawns, washing windows and running fountains at state office buildings and other facilities. The governor’s order also imposes a moratorium on the installation of new “non-essential” landscaping at those facilities.

Brown’s directive comes amid a punishing drought that’s reached every corner of the state.

“Many state agencies already have taken steps to improve the sustainability of their operations, including actions to reduce water usage,” Brown said in a press statement.

“Through this Executive Order, state government can respond to this growing crisis, lead by example, and show Oregonians that drought is a serious issue — but one that can be managed if we all work together.”

The governor has declared drought emergencies in 19 counties as of Wednesday.

Several local governments in Oregon, including the city of Bend, have urged residents to take steps to conserve water by limiting outdoor use. The city has said voluntary water use reductions now could reduce mandatory restrictions later.

Outdoor water use accounts for almost a third of daily residential water use nationwide, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that number is higher in hot, dry regions, especially during the summer.

Nearly 80% of consumptive water use in the U.S. is for farming, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

New Report Details Disparate Impacts of the Pandemic Recession in Oregon

The acute onset and depth of the pandemic recession was unlike anything seen previously in Oregon. What was a healthy economy lost 286,000 jobs in two months’ time. The impacts were not evenly distributed, with in-person, service-based sectors experiencing significantly higher rates of job loss.

  • Unemployment spiked to a record high of 13.2% in April 2020.
  • Taken together, leisure and hospitality, other services – including hair salons, repair shops, and other personal services – and private education accounted for nearly half (48%) of all jobs lost in the initial economic shock.
  • While most sectors began rebounding from the initial pandemic recession job losses, local government – and public education in particular – did not, continuing to shed jobs as the pandemic wore on.

Leisure and hospitality in particular employed more women, more of Oregon’s young workers, and more Black, Indigenous, and workers from communities of color than Oregon’s economy overall. Other hard-hit sectors also tended to have more women and more low-wage workers. These Oregonians experienced disparate job impacts of the pandemic recession in 2020.

  • The Hispanic or Latino workforce was overrepresented in leisure and hospitality jobs.
  • Leisure and hospitality, other services, and education all had higher shares of women, and higher shares of minimum-wage jobs.
  • More broadly, all sectors of Oregon’s economy lost jobs in the initial downturn. Lower-wage earners saw the greatest job losses in nearly all of them.

Disparate impacts to these workers show in Oregon’s unemployment claims (UI) data. They’re also reflected in the benefit payments that served as a safety net to displaced workers and business owners under public health restrictions.

  • While regular unemployment claims surged across all demographics, it happened to an even greater degree to for women than men during the pandemic recession.
  • Similarly, Oregon’s younger workers (ages 16 to 24) had claims volume rise to a greater degree than for other age groups.
  • Hispanic or Latino workers’ share of unemployment claims did not rise during the pandemic, despite having higher shares of workers in leisure and hospitality.

More details are available in the full report at

File a claim for unemployment benefits, go to or call 1-877-FILE-4-UI.

Find jobs and training resources at Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services. Oregon Employment Department

Jobless Claims Rise In Oregon And Nationally

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose last week even while the economy and the job market appear to be rebounding from the coronavirus recession.

Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims increased by 2,000 from the previous week to 373,000. Weekly applications, which generally track the pace of layoffs, have fallen steadily this year from more than 900,000 at the start of the year.

In Oregon, regular claims jumped from about 6,000 the prior week to 6,600 last week, according to the preliminary federal figures. Claims have risen in each of the past two weeks after sharp declines since April.

It’s hard to know what to make of Oregon’s recent increase. The state’s jobless claims remained elevated for several weeks last spring even as the national numbers fell, a phenomenon the Oregon Employment Department said was partly the result of a high number of fraud attempts.

The Labor Department often makes significant revisions to each state’s claims numbers the following week, so it’s probably too soon to tell whether there has been any significant change in Oregon’s labor market.

The rollout of vaccinations is driving a potent economic recovery as businesses reopen, employers struggle to fill jobs and consumers emerge from months of lockdown to travel, shop and spend at restaurants, bars, retailers and entertainment venues.

In the first three months of the year, the government has estimated that the economy expanded at a brisk 6.4% annual rate. In the April-June quarter, the annual rate is thought to have reached a sizzling 10%. And for all of 2021, the Congressional Budget Office has projected that growth will amount to 6.7%. That would be the fastest calendar-year expansion since 1984.

The economy is recovering so quickly that many companies can’t find workers fast enough to meet their increased customer demand. On Wednesday, the government said that U.S. employers posted 9.21 million jobs in May, the most since record-keeping began in 2000.

And in June, employers added a strong 850,000 jobs, and hourly pay rose a solid 3.6% compared with a year ago — faster than the pre-pandemic annual pace and a sign that companies are being compelled to pay more to attract and keep workers.

Still, the nation remains 6.8 million jobs short of the level it had in February 2021, just before the coronavirus pandemic tore through the economy and eliminated tens of millions of jobs. And weekly applications for unemployment benefits, though down sharply from earlier peaks, are still comparatively high: Before the pandemic, they were typically coming in at only around 220,000 a week.

The total number of Americans receiving jobless aid, including supplemental federal checks that were intended to provide relief during the pandemic recession, amounted to 14.2 million people during the week of June 19, down from 33.2 million a year earlier.

Many states, though, have dropped federal aid, responding to complaints that the generous benefits were discouraging some of the unemployed from seeking work: A total of 26 states plan to end the $300-a-week federal benefit before it ends nationally on Sept. 6. Most of those states will also cut off federal assistance to the self-employed, gig workers, and people who have been out of work for more than six months.

Still, many factors other than the enhanced federal jobless benefits are thought to have contributed to the shortage of people seeking work again: Difficulty arranging or affording child care, lingering fears of COVID-19, early retirements by older workers, a slowdown in immigration, and a decision by some people to seek new careers rather than return to their old jobs.

Two Men Arrested For Building Explosive Devices In Boardman

The Oregon State Police (OSP) Bomb Squad was deployed to assist with the arrest of two men who were in possession of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) just outside the Boardman city limits on Tuesday.

According to a press release issued by the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office, authorities were alerted to the IEDs inside of a shed on Shoemake Road in the Boardman area around 8:39 a.m. on July 6. One of the two men is suspected of building the explosive device as well. Boardman Police alerted the Morrow County Sheriff since the location was outside of the city limits.

Authorities from the Sheriff’s Office and the Boardman Police Department allegedly saw one of the male suspects chucking three objects into a nearby field as local authorities approached the shed. The OSP Bomb Squad was deployed out of Pendleton to assist and made all three of the devices safe before proceeding with their investigation. Those three devices were determined to be destructive and pose a threat to cause major bodily harm.

Morrow County Sheriff’s officials interviewed the male suspect in the field when another suspect arrived on the scene. He was also interviewed by local authorities.

Suspects Adrian Lee Ahumada, 37, of Boardman, and Brenden Kane Strickland, 19, of Clarkston, WA were both taken into custody and booked into the Umatilla County Jail for three charges of Unlawful Manufacturing of Destructive Device and three counts of Possession of a Destructive Device. Authorities have set bail at $60,000 for each of the suspects involved.

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