Rogue Valley News, Monday 7/12 – ODF Southwest Oregon District Upgrades Fire Detection Center, Fire Danger Increases as July Temps Set Records

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

Monday, July 12, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather

Today– Patchy smoke. Sunny and hot, with a high near 97. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.

Tuesday– Patchy smoke. Sunny and hot, with a high near 99. Calm wind becoming north around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Wednesday– Patchy smoke. Sunny, with a high near 94. Light west northwest wind.

Thursday– Sunny, with a high near 90.

Friday– Sunny, with a high near 89.


Oregon reports 265 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 2 new deaths

There are two new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,792. The Oregon Health Authority reported 265 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 210,229.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (7), Benton (7), Clackamas (15), Clatsop (1), Columbia (1), Coos (3), Crook (1), Deschutes (16), Douglas (17), Grant (3), Harney (3), Jackson (22), Jefferson (3), Josephine (15), Klamath (2), Lane (11), Lincoln (6), Linn (13), Marion (26), Morrow (1), Multnomah (31), Polk (4), Sherman (1), Tillamook (2), Umatilla (16), Union (5), Wasco (5), Washington (20) and Yamhill (8).  

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 6,920 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 3,280 doses were administered on July 8 and 3,640 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on July 8.

The seven-day running average is now 5,335 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered 2,568,978 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,753,885 first and second doses of Moderna and 172,716 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

As of today, 2,423,996 people have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 2,222,166 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, 2,968,245 doses of Pfizer, 2,258,400 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 99, which is one fewer than yesterday and the lowest number OHA has reported since Sept. 14, 2020. There are 26 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is two fewer 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.


ODF Southwest Oregon District Upgrades Fire Detection Center

The Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District has added three new sites and six new cameras to the agency’s fire detection center as the region continues to experience a dry and hot fire season.

The new additions give the district a total of15 sites with 30 cameras in Jackson and Josephine counties to detect and monitor wildfires.

“This allows us to have a good view of these rural areas, when we have fires, we can very quickly look on the camera, see them, and have a better idea of what we are up against,” Natalie Weber, the spokeswomen ODF said. “It helps us to be a lot more efficient, and effective right off the bat.”

The detection center is made up of several cameras that take images of an area every 2 minutes which then allows the agency to replay the images and detect if there is smoke.

The agency’s three new sites include ‘Isabelle’, which covers Rogue River, Foots Creek, Ruch, Applegate, and surrounding areas.

Biebersdet was initially a temporary tower until it became permanent in May. It covers Butte Falls, Medford, and Highway 140.

The most recently added site is ‘Onion Mountain’ which covers eastern Grants Pass and the I5 corridor into Rogue River.

“In a lot of these areas there isn’t good cell reception or none, it can be hard to report fires even if you see them,” Weber explained. “In some cases, we are able to find fires before anyone calls them in.”

Weber said the center is monitored throughout the day by four trained experts, including a supervisor with firsthand wildland firefighting knowledge. She said since the detection center was established in 2006, it has grown and now covers more than 1 million acres of land in Southern Oregon.

“Being able to add to the system gives us a lot more tools in our toolbox to fight the fire more aggressively,” she said. “Not only is it a resource for us and our firefighters, but if we find a fire (out of our region) we will call those local agencies and let them know about the fire in their area.”

Weber noted the agency will continue to expand on the center in the future. She said the additions will also help the agency be more efficient in deciding how many resources to use and where to use them.

“When we have multiple starts or reported starts, we can look at all those areas and see what’s putting up the most smoke, what is going to be the hardest to get to, and so we can determine how we should be breaking up those resources and sending them out,” she said.

𝙁𝙄𝙍𝙀 𝘿𝘼𝙉𝙂𝙀𝙍 𝙇𝙀𝙑𝙀𝙇 𝙄𝙉𝘾𝙍𝙀𝘼𝙎𝙀: The fire danger level on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry in Jackson and Josephine counties rises to “extreme” (red) at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, July 14, 2021.

This affects 1.8 million acres of state, private, county and Bureau of Land Management lands within ODF’s Southwest Oregon District. The Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) will remain at Level 2 (two).

The primary difference between current fire prevention restrictions and those beginning on Wednesday affects the public use of power-driven equipment, such as chain saws and mowers. The use of power-driven equipment, grinding, cutting of metal, and other spark-emitting equipment, such as wood splitters and generators, will be prohibited.

Medford Set to Record Hottest July

According to data collected from the National Weather Service in Medford along with the next 14-day forecast, Medford is on track to have its hottest July in years.

So far this month, Medford has had an average temperature of 99 degrees and has experienced five days of 100 degrees or hotter. It’s been several years since Medford experienced this hot of a start to the month of July, the last time, was back in 2014 and even then, it was not even close.

Data from the NWS shows that Medford experienced an average temperature 96.63 degrees in the first 11 days of the month of July, that’s roughly about three degrees cooler than what July of 2021 is averaging.

However, later into that very hot July in 2014, the city experienced 10 days of 100 degrees or warmer. That’s the most amount of days with 100-degree temperatures in the month of July for the city in the last 20 years.

According to data collected from the 14-day forecast from the Weather Channel, the city is on track to experience an average temperature of 96.8 degrees by July 25th. That’s .1 degrees off from the hottest July in the last 20 years and the city will still have six more days after that to beat the record.

Smoke in the Rogue Valley is cooling down temperatures at the moment, but as the smoke moves away from the area, warmer temperatures could be on the rise once again.

Multi-Vehicle Crash Shuts Down Lanes On I-5 Near Phoenix

A multi-vehicle crash on I-5 northbound near Phoenix shut down both lanes and the shoulder area. 

Traffic was detoured at Talent Exit 21 to OR 99 north to Exit 27, South Medford. The accident included several vehicles and a semi-truck. Traffic was backed up from Phoenix all the way to Talent northbound according to Trip Check.



Bootleg. OR-FWF-210321. IMT1, ODF Team 1 (Hessel), NW Team 10 (Lawson) & OSFM Green Team (Lighty). 15 mi NW of Beatty, OR. Start 7/6. Cause: Unknown. 150,812 acres (+74,097). 0% containment. Extreme fire behavior. Timber and brush. Evacuations in effect. Road closures.

Jack Fire. OR-UPF-000265. IMT2, NW Team 9 (Goff) & OSFM Blue Team (Magers). 20 mi E of Glide, OR. Start 7/5. Cause: Unknown. 10,937 acres (+1,604). 8% containment. Active fire behavior. Timber and brush. Structures threatened. Evacuations in effect. Road, trail and area closures.

Bootleg Update:

Firefighters, emergency managers and other public safety officials on Sunday faced the fifth day in a row of extreme, intense fire behavior on the Bootleg Fire, as hot, dry, windy weather persists in the area. The fire is now estimated at nearly one hundred and fifty thousand acres, or over 61 square miles.

This mega wildfire is disrupting power transmission to California and the Southwest, precisely when it’s most desperately need to keep people cool in the midst of a heatwave. 

Those conditions escalated Saturday afternoon, resulting life-threatening risk to public and emergency responder safety.

Conditions were so extreme that firefighters disengaged and moved to predetermined safety zones. This extreme fire behavior resulted in approximately four miles of fire growth both to the east and north.

The fire moved through Sycan Estates, crossed the East-West road, and burned about eight additional miles along the high voltage powerline corridor (for a total of 12 miles).

Damage to structures and infrastructure is being assessed; some structures have been lost. There have been no reported fatalities. On the southwest side of the fire, light winds and lighter fuel conditions allowed firefighters, structure protection teams, and air support to be successful in minimizing fire growth to the south (communities of Klamath Forest Estates/Moccasin Hills, Tablelands). Western movement of the fire toward Chiloquin was also minimal.

Dangerously unstable conditions will promote extreme growth of the Bootleg Fire today. This fire has already shown the potential for extreme growth by doubling in size each day for the last 3 days. If you live in an area under a level 2 evacuation, get set to leave at a moment’s notice. If you live in a level 3 evacuation zone, your life is in danger and should leave immediately if you haven’t already.

Always listen to officials for evacuation information, and we always recommend leaving if you do not feel comfortable with the situation.

Check to see if you live in an evacuation zone at:

The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office has begun to issue citations and will make arrests if necessary to keep people out of the level 3 evacuation areas.  They have advised people to evacuate over the last several days. Some have not listened to those warnings and continue to travel within the restricted area. This violates the closure restrictions and interferes with firefighting and lifesaving efforts.

The Klamath County Sheriff’s office is advising that if you are in a Level 3 Evacuation Area to please evacuate immediately. This comes as unnecessary traffic in the area east of Sprague River Rd has been hampering fire response and security.

Jack Fire Update:

The Jack Fire has now reached 10,937 acres with 10% containment. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has issued evacuation orders for areas near the Jack Fire in the Umpqua National Forest. The fire area is still running hot and dry and above normal for this time of year. Winds continue to be out of the north and northwest while wind speeds remain near normal.

On the western edge of the fire, resources continue to brush out vegetation while holding and securing the line along the river and HWY 138.

On the eastern flank, crews continue burning vegetation along containment lines moving south towards Dry Creek.

In the southeast, near Dry Creek, resources have burned vegetation along containment lines to connect the 4760 Road to the areas that have been cleared of vegetation near Dry Creek and Illahee Road. 

The most active area of the fire is south of the river and HWY 138.  Firefighters have established locations that are suitable for containment lines while providing for firefighter safety. Crews working on all sections of the fire face steep terrain and poison oak related difficulties.

Lava Fire Burns Portions of Railroad Tracks

The Lava Fire, still burning near Mount Shasta in Northern California, damaged a portion of the Union Pacific Railroad on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The damage has forced freight traffic to reroute, created delays and cancellations for Amtrak passengers, and has left Klamath Falls without passenger rail service.

The Coast Starlight train will not serve stops between Eugene and Sacramento until at least mid-July, according to Amtrak. South of the fire, the Coast Starlight will operate only between Los Angeles and Sacramento. Customers north of the fire can continue to travel between Seattle and Eugene, but trains from either direction are no longer
arriving in Klamath Falls.

The portion of the tracks scorched by the Lava Fire east of Highway 97 near Hotlum, Calif., is known as the Dry Canyon Bridge. Union Pacific engineers have been assessing the damage, UP said in an announcement posted June 29 The damage to the rail infrastructure is impacting its operations between Redding, Calif. and Eugene, noting that customers may experience delays in excess of 72 hours.

Weather Outlook for Fires

The Pacific Northwest will stay hot and dry into the middle of the week with poor to moderate overnight relative humidity recoveries on the east side of the region. Breezy winds are expected each afternoon through Cascade gaps and to the east. A shortwave disturbance will cross the region today bringing chances for showers and wet thunderstorms in the northern mountains this afternoon/evening with some residual chances tomorrow.

A broad upper level trough will approach Wednesday, bringing breezy to windy conditions through Cascade gaps and across the east side basins Wednesday and Thursday. The system will also reduce temperatures toward seasonal normals into the weekend. No precipitation is expected with the system.

Hit-And-Run Driver Sought After Cyclist Killed In Marion County

Oregon State Police and emergency personnel responded to a hit-and-run crash on Highway 551 in Marion County early Sunday morning.

Police say a bicyclist was traveling northbound on the shoulder when they were struck from behind by an SUV. The bicyclist was transported to the hospital where they were later pronounced deceased.

The victim’s identity has not been released.

The driver did not stay at the scene, according to police.

Authorities say evidence recovered at the scene suggests the car involved was a white, 2008-2014 Subaru Tribeca. The suspected SUV would have damage to the front passenger side of the vehicle, including the headlight and passenger side mirror.

OSP is requesting anyone with any information regarding the crash or the suspect vehicle to contact them at 1-800-442-0776 and refer to case #SP21-194026.

The chlorine shortage that was impacting water departments across the Pacific Northwest is over.  

Westlake Chemical in Longview, Washington has repaired a transformer and is back in operation.  The Portland Water Bureau has resumed normal operations.  

They reduced chlorine to the minimum levels required during the shortage to make their supply last longer.  They have now returned the amount of chlorine added to drinking water to the regular level.

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Off Oregon Coast

A 4.1 magnitude earthquake struck Saturday afternoon off the southern Oregon coast.

The earthquake hit about 109 miles from Port Orford at 1:42 p.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It had a depth of over six miles.

One person has reported to the Geological Survey that they felt the temblor, as of about an hour after the event.

Small earthquakes strike often near Oregon’s coast, a regular reminder of the cataclysmic earthquake geologists say will happen when the pressure building between the Juan de Fuca and North American plates breaks.

Oregon officials say there is a 37% chance that a 7.1 magnitude or higher earthquake will happen at the boundary between the two tectonic plates, called the Cascadia Subduction Zone, in the next 50 years.

Magnitude 2.5 to 3 earthquakes are the smallest generally felt by people, while magnitude 4 quakes can cause moderate damage.

Two Men Die in Aircraft Crash Near Millersburg

Two men from Albany, Oregon, were killed when a homebuilt trike aircraft they were in crashed near Millersburg on Friday night.

The Linn County Sheriff’s Office said the crash happened before 9 p.m. in a field behind Deciduous Avenue. When they arrived on scene they found the pilot, 57-year-old Charles Kizer and his passenger 49-year-old Matthew Irish dead at the scene.

They were flying in a North Wing Trike, a two-seater, motorized glider-type aircraft. The sheriff’s office said there were witnesses of the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration has been called to help investigate.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Saturday that it was an unregistered, homebuilt trike aircraft and they were responding to the scene to investigate the crash.

A trike is an ultralight aircraft composed of a robust hang-glider and a powered tricycle.

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