Rogue Valley News, Friday 8/6 – Rogue Valley Hospitals Overwhelmed With COVID-19 Cases, Medford Man Arrested for Planning Mass Casualty Event

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 RogueValleyMagazine.com

Friday, August 6, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather

Air Quality Alert

Today– Patchy smoke. Sunny, with a high near 91. Calm wind becoming northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Saturday– Patchy smoke. Sunny, with a high near 92. Calm wind becoming northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.
Sunday– Areas of smoke. Sunny, with a high near 90. North northwest wind 5 to 7 mph.
Monday– Sunny, with a high near 94.
Tuesday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 104.

LOCAL ROGUE HEADLINES:

Rogue Valley Hospitals Overwhelmed With COVID-19 Cases

While the Oregon Health Authority reported nearly 1400 new Covid-19 cases statewide, local hospitals are being strained. Local hospitals are feeling the burden and are so backed up they state wait times for patients could range up to 5 hours, at times.

As Covid-19 cases continue to skyrocket in Oregon, hospitals say resources are getting stretched thin. “We’re at 100% capacity almost across the entire system,” said Asante Three Rivers Medical Director, Dr. Christopher David.

“It’s exceedingly hard to prepare and have enough resources to handle that kind of surge of increase, and the last two weeks has only amplified that beyond what we could have expected,” said Dr. David.

The number of hospitalized patients with Covid-19 across Oregon Thursday is 457. That’s 35 more than Wednesday. There are 134 Covid-19 patients in intensive care, which also increased.

“Almost everything out there is delta variant and is more contagious, it’s causing more people to get ill even at a younger age and so we’re seeing it spread even further than it had before,” said Dr. David.

Asante Three Rivers say its ICU is at capacity. It started boarding patients in the emergency department due to the lack of available beds. “It’s a constant struggle when you’re running at 99% percent capacity at all times,” said Dr. David.

Providence in Medford says it’s going through the same struggle. “It’s worse now than it was when the pandemic first started for us,” said CEO of Providence Medical Center, Chris Pizzi.

Providence says wait times fluctuate depending on the severity of your condition. But wait times could be upwards of hours. “The emergency rooms, the urgent cares are all being overwhelmed,” said Pizzi.

Most elective surgeries have already been canceled. “It’s very complicated having to work through this and it’s a very difficult situation for all our health care providers,” said Pizzi.

Hospitals say people should avoid coming in, when possible. Getting tested or getting the vaccine, should not be done at local hospitals.

Medford Man Arrested for Planning Mass Casualty Event

Clay mugshot

On July 20th, 2021, Kristopher Clay, 24 years old, arrived in the Medford Police lobby to request to speak with an officer. He told the officer he was having homicidal thoughts with plans to carry them out. The officer transported Clay to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center – Behavioral Health Unit. 

An investigation began, which resulted in several search warrants being served in various locations in Jackson County. Items of evidence were seized to include; ammunition, firearms, tactical gear, and written material.

The investigation indicated Clay made significant steps to carry out a mass casualty event.

Clay was employed as a custodian at South Medford High School. Officials from the Medford School District were contacted. School officials, with the assistance of School Resource Officers, conducted a thorough sweep of the high school to ensure there were no active threats. School officials pursued termination of Clay’s employment and he is no longer employed with the School District. 

Clay has no known prior criminal convictions but is prohibited from possessing firearms, due to a court order under ORS 426.130. The investigation revealed he obtained firearms through various channels.

On August 4th, 2021, Clay was taken into custody at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center just prior to his discharge, for several charges to include Attempted Murder. The Jackson County District Attorney’s Office has filed the following charges:

  • Attempted Murder 2nd Degree
  • Attempted Assault 1st Degree
  • Unlawful Use of a Weapon x 2
  • Unlawful Possession of a Firearm x 2
  • Tampering with Physical Evidence

It should be noted that Clay was in protective custody up to the point he was placed under arrest. The Medford Police Department would like to thank the many agencies involved in this case, and we are relieved a potentially catastrophic event was prevented.  Medford Police Dept.

National Park Service Lists the Harry and Eleanor Holmes House in Medford in the National Register of Historic Places

The Harry and Eleanor Holmes House, is among Oregon’s latest entries in the National Register of Historic Places. Oregon’s State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation (SACHP) recommended the sites nomination at their February 2021 meeting. The National Park Service — which maintains the National Register — accepted this nomination in June 2021.

Located on a landscaped 1.98 acre lot and completed in 1939, the Harry and Eleanor Holmes House was designed by Los Angeles-based architect Paul Revere Williams, a nationally significant architect. Williams’ designs for industrialists, movie stars and other celebrities during the 1930s-1960s were broadly published and widely recognized for their elegant character, especially his trademark helical stairways.

With his brother, David, Harry was the owner of Bear Creek Orchards, later Harry & David, a nationally prominent innovator of mail-order marketing through their Fruit-of-the-Month club. Harry & David sold high quality pears and other fruits, developing a highly successful operation that was among the largest of its type in the nation.

The Harry and Eleanor Holmes House is the 45th individual property in Medford to be listed in the National Register, and the first listing since October 2012.

The National Register is maintained by the National Park Service under the authority of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. More information about the National Register and recent Oregon listings are online at oregonheritage.org (listed under “Designate”).

Properties listed in the National Register are:
• Recognized as significant to the nation, state, or community;
• Considered in the planning of federal or federally assisted projects;
• Eligible for federal and state tax benefits;
• Qualify for historic preservation grants when funds are available;
• Eligible for leniency in meeting certain building code requirements;
• Subject to local laws pertaining to the conservation and protection of historic resources.

National Register listing does not place any restrictions on a property at the state or federal level unless property owners choose to participate in tax benefit or grant programs. Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept. 

Josephine County Emergency Management continues investigation into rebroadcast of emergency alert test message

Josephine Co. Emergency Management - Get Ready Rogue - Home | Facebook

Josephine County Emergency Management continues to investigate why a test of its emergency alert system was rebroadcast by a third party to users of a commercial home-security product.

On Aug. 3, JCEM staff conducted a routine internal test of its Citizen Alert system, similar to other tests done throughout the year. Technicians and teams that analyzed the test and settings determined that staff followed all recommended settings and practices and that the alert was only sent to four predetermined test contacts for a single test address.

While the test went as planned, with only the four contacts receiving the test alert, JCEM shortly became aware that some residents in Josephine County and Jackson County had received the test alert through their personal home security systems.

It is unknown at this time how the company discovered and rebroadcast the test alert to its users in the area. Unfortunately, the rebroadcast did not carry the original title of the alert, which included the word “TEST” in bold, uppercase letters. JCEM has reached out to the company but has not yet been in direct contact.

This is the first time an internal test has been discovered and distributed to the public independent of any action by JCEM. The Oregon Office of Emergency Management and Everbridge, the software company that provides the platform for Citizen Alert, continue to investigate exactly how a third party was able to independently locate and re-broadcast the test alert and will work with third-party partners on behalf of Josephine County.

“Conducting tests of emergency alerting systems helps identify and correct any issues that may arise to ensure that the system works as intended when an actual alert is needed,” said William Chapman, statewide interoperability coordinator for OR-Alert. “The Statewide Interoperability Team commends Jackson and Josephine Emergency Management staff for testing and training on their OR-Alert system and for their commitment to being ready to disseminate potentially lifesaving information during an emergency.”

To sign up for Citizen Alert, visit Rogue Valley Emergency Management at www.RVEM.org. A link to Citizen Alert is also available on the Emergency Management page of the county’s website, co.josephine.or.us.

AROUND the STATE of OREGON

LIGHTNING, SMOKE and FIRES

Lightning Starts Two New Fires In The Deschutes National Forest Thursday

There were more than 1,000 lightning strikes in Oregon Thursday. Lightning started two new fires in the Deschutes National Forest Thursday, according to fire officials.

The Monty Fire and the Bean Creek Fire are burning about a mile from each other east of Monty Campground.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office issued a Level 1 (Get Ready) evacuation notice for homes on Montgomery Shores on the Metolius Arm. The campground is closed.

While the Monty Fire is only five acres in size and the Bean Creek Fire, 20 acres, the fires are starting spot fires.

Firefighters are attacking the blazes from the ground and with a helicopter. A hotshot crew is expected Friday morning.

HELPFUL LINKS:

  • This public lands link is super helpful to check before you head outdoors. The Keep Oregon Green website carries ODF’s public use restrictions. Click the link for up-to-date information: https://keeporegongreen.org/current-conditions/
  • An interactive smoke map at https://fire.airnow.gov/ allows you to zoom into your location to see the latest smoke information. Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems or heart disease are encouraged to take precautionary measures.

BOOTLEG FIRE:

The Bootleg Fire has now consumed 413, 765 acres. For the third consecutive day, a Red Flag Warning and Fire Weather Watch are in effect for this afternoon and evening. Thunderstorms associated with the edge of a cold front are forecast for today and are likely to bring gusty and erratic winds.

Yesterday, smoke and ash from the Antelope Fire in northern California filled the sky, helping to somewhat moderate fire behavior. Despite the conditions over the past two days, the Bootleg Fire line is holding with no spot fires. Fire activity has increased inside the fire perimeter, however. There remain patches of unburned fuels where the fire can spread and single- and group-tree torching has been observed. Snags and other hazard trees are common and crews and heavy equipment are still actively working the fire area.

As a reminder, the Fremont-Winema National Forest remains closed north of Oregon State Route 140. Public entry to the burn area is unsafe. U.S. Forest Service Renewable Resources Staff Officer Sean Ferrell commented: “We know you care for our firefighters and want to help in any way you can. The best thing you can do is be patient and honor the closure to give firefighters space so they can work safely.”

MIDDLE FORK COMPLEX:

The complex is made up of twelve individual fires and started on July 29, after lightning storms in the area. Seven of the small blazes have reached 90-100% containment as of Aug. 3.  The Gales Creek Fire is the largest of the twelve, located south of Forest Road 18 near the 1835 road, and has increased to 1,822-acres with 0% containment, as of Aug. 5.

The Kwis Fire is the second largest fire and is closest to Oakridge. As of Aug. 4, the Kwis Fire is 333 acres and is 25% contained. Size: 2,102 total acres. Containment: 5%

SKYLINE RIDGE COMPLEX:

Mutliple fires make up the Skyline Ridge Complex Fire that’s burning southeast of Canyonville. Officials say the fire was ignited by lightning stikes on Aug.1. The complex is made up of 15 fires with the four largest fires being Poole Creek, O’Shea Creek, Ike Butte, and Sweat Creek. The size of the fire has increased to 1,516 acres as of Aug. 5. The estimated date of containment is Aug. 12.

Evacuations: All homes on Upper Cow Creek Road with addresses starting at 11300 through 18299. This includes all side roads between these two points. For easier reference, the Level 1 “Be Ready” starts just above Galesville Dam and ends just beyond Red Apple Road where the Level 2 “Be Set” starts for the Wildcat Fire.

WILDCAT FIRE:

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has upgraded evacuation notices due to the Wildcat Fire.

The fire is moving toward some residential areas near Upper Cow Creek Road, which is why some are asked to evacuate now. Below are the current evacuation notices:

Residents can opt-in to receive emergency alerts based on their address by registering HERE —- An interactive evacuation map can be found HERE

JACK FIRE/ROUGH PATCH COMPLEX:

The Jack Fire has been burning since July 5 and the Rough Patch Complex Fire started on July 29. Cooler weather and higher humidity should moderate fire activity across the Rough Patch Complex and Jack Fire, but fuels remain dry and will burn readily, fire officials said.

“We had another good day, but it was challenging due to the wind picking up toward evening,” said John Spencer, operations section chief for Northwest 13, which is managing the Jack Fire, Rough Patch Complex and several small fires in the area.

By Wednesday evening, the Rough Patch Complex had grown to 841 acres from 720 acres, while the Jack Fire grew less than 100 acres, from 23,182 acres to 23,280.

Brush and woody debris are being removed along the 3821 Road and the 650 Road down to a dozer line at Lemon Dip. Coordinated efforts to remove logging equipment and log decks are going seamlessly, Spencer said.

On the west side of the Rough Patch Complex, firefighters caught a 2-acre spot fire within the containment lines west and south of the 651 Road, with assistance from aerial water drops as crews cut line. Dozer and handline work continued across Lemon Dip.

Firefighters spent much of Wednesday scouting the 200-acre Little Bend Creek Fire, which is in dense forest, making aerial observation difficult. To the east, crews were working to open access to the 10-acre 600 Road Fire, which was backing into Homestead Creek.

Containment lines around the Chilcoot II Fire are holding and crews are now mopping up.

On the southern end of the Jack Fire, dozer lines successfully checked a 100-acre fire on the 400 Road at Section 17, while crews finished cutting line and shifted to mop up around the 700 Road.

In the Twin Lakes area to the northeast, firefighters were assessing handlines for potential burnout operations if conditions allow.

Despite the cooler weather moving in, fuels remain critically dry due to drought and many fires will continue to grow, Fire Behavior Analyst Dean Warner said.

Size: Jack Fire, 23,280 acres | Rough Patch Complex , 838 acres Containment: Jack Fire, 54% | Rough Patch Complex, 1%

DEVIL’S KNOB COMPLEX:

Evacuations are in place for some residences on Upper Cow Creek road due to the Devil’s Knob Complex of fires in the Umpqua National Forest’s Tiller Ranger District. The 43 fires were started by lightning on July 29th and August 1st. That complex is located in the vicinity of the Rough Patch Complex, the Jack Fire and the Skyline Ridge complex in Douglas county.

The Complex has been divided into 2 Branches and 4 Divisions to better provide management and oversight of suppression efforts. Fire fighters are scouting for and suppressing small incidents. Firefighters are prioritizing opportunities with the highest probability of success. There are 6 large incidents of concern within the Complex that fire fighters are focusing on based on location and values at risk. 

They are: 

  • Wildcat Fire, 180 acres and is close to residences
  • Mule Creek Fire, 300 acres
  • Big Hamlin Fires,400 acres,
  • Smith Fire, 300 acres 
  • Little Applegate Fire, 100 acres
  • Railroad Fire, 50 acres 

Firefighters are working to construct fireline, mop-up hot spots to secure lines and patrol those fires recently contained. Aircraft is being shared from other near-by Complexes when the air is clear enough for safe flying.

JANUS COMPLEX:

Three of the fires, Janus, Kola and Ridge Fires are in the southeast corner of the Bull of the Woods Wilderness in the Janus Butte area. The largest, Janus Fire, is estimated to be 300 acres and the remaining fires estimated to be less than an acre each.  The remaining two fires are outside of the wilderness boundary and in the vicinity of Round Lake.

Fourteen firefighters are currently working to construct direct line on the Round Lake Fire. They are camping out near the fire tonight and will continue working both fires by Round Lake on Wednesday.  Two helicopters provided bucket work this afternoon to drop water on the two fires by Round Lake. Some bucket work was also done on the Kola Fire to keep it in check. 

  All five fires have full suppression objectives with clear intent to commit resources only where they have high probability of success and can operate safely and effectively.  The line construction for the fires in the Bull of the Woods are being scouted and planned. 

 These fires are burning 10 miles north of Detroit and 5 miles northwest of Breitenbush Hot Springs. There may be smoke visible in the Detroit area and in the Santiam Canyon

BLACK BUTTE FIRE:

Fire size now is approximately 5700 acres:  The High Desert Incident Command Team Type 3 will take over management of the fire at 1800.  The team is transitioning with current fire crews to establish the best plan for fighting the fire that has been burning in very steep terrain.  Air Resources will continue assisting and will work with the incoming team in the days to come.  Crews are engaging, with safety as the number one concern.    

Crews will continue to work to stop the spread of the fire north towards Flag Prairie and private lands, and south and southeast towards the forest boundary. 

Fire management would like the public to be aware of potential smoke impacts from Black Butte Fire and others in the region.  For more information regarding smoke please visit:  Oregon Smoke Blog Spot, and Fire Air Now.   

Man Arrested After Allegedly Starting Several Fires on I-5 and Hwy 99 Near the Douglas County Fair in Roseburg

Oregon State Police Troopers jailed a man who allegedly started several fires Wednesday night.

An OSP report said at about 9:15 p.m. the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said a man had been trespassed from the Douglas County Fair. Fair security followed the man out onto Interstate Five where staff with the Oregon Department of Transportation said the suspect was running in traffic on the freeway.

When troopers arrived, the man had crossed the river and was walking on the south bank of the South Umpqua River. OSP attempted to locate the man on Tipton Road but did not find him. 911 dispatchers then received multiple calls stating that a man was on Highway 99 South starting fires on the shoulder of the road.

The report said by the time law enforcement arrived, there were several fires burning in the ditch and the man was gone. OSP then got information from ODOT that the man was back on the freeway near milepost 120, close to the river, and was running in traffic again.

The man was found running up the bank lighting fires as he ran through a very dry grass field. The suspect was taken into custody.

32-year old Myson Houck was charged with second-degree disorderly conduct and five counts of reckless burning. Bail was set at $32,000.

COVID UPDATE:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Coronavirus-update-1-1.jpg

Oregon reports 1,382 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 8 new deaths

There are eight new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,885. The Oregon Health Authority reported 1,382 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 225,919. 

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (12), Benton (23), Clackamas (94), Clatsop (31), Columbia (29), Coos (29), Crook (22), Curry (13), Deschutes (86), Douglas (78), Gilliam (1), Grant (2), Harney (3), Hood River (3), Jackson (59), Jefferson (12), Josephine (86), Klamath (23), Lane (118), Lincoln (22), Linn (37), Malheur (16), Marion (82), Morrow (22), Multnomah (169), Polk (50), Tillamook (17), Umatilla (88), Union (6), Wallowa (8), Wasco (15), Washington (98), Wheeler (1) and Yamhill (27). 

OSP Raid on Malin Marijuana Grow

Oregon State Police detectives on Tuesday raided a marijuana grow in Malin that police accused of stealing water and operating without permits. OSP secured a search warrant for the property, on Harpold Road, where they found more 85 than greenhouses measuring 30 x 100 feet each.

The greenhouses were spread across about 150 acres of property and later found to contain about 22,000 marijuana plants. According to detectives, there were no permits in place to legally grow hemp or marijuana on the
property, for any purpose.

Additionally, detectives learned there was potentially theft of water and unlawful use of groundwater occurring as part of the illegal marijuana grow. 

Preliminary tests confirmed the plants were marijuana and not hemp. Additionally, evidence was discovered to support the unlawful use or appropriation of groundwater.

Kayaker Hit by Small Plane in Willamette River Near Dayton

A small plane taking off from a gravel bar hit a woman kayaking on the Willamette River on Wednesday.

It happened about 5 p.m. near Dayton. Sgt. Sam Elliott with the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office said the woman was seriously injured. The victim was transported to a ground ambulance via a water rescue boat.

The incident unfolded on Wednesday on the Willamette River in the area of Lower Lambert Bar between Dayton and the Wheatland Ferry.

A Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office marine patrol boat responded along with a water rescue boat from Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, and land-based rescue and ambulance personnel from Dayton Fire District and McMinnville Fire Department.

The patient is a 42-year-old female from McMinnville who was recreating on the river in a kayak along with another adult female, age 68, in a separate kayak. Deputies arrived on the scene and located the injured kayaker, as well as a Piper Super Cub plane on a gravel bar.

The water rescue boat from Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue transported the patient to the waiting ambulance at the end of SE Green Acres Road in rural Dayton. The preliminary investigation revealed that the plane was taking off from a gravel bar when the kayaker was struck by the plane.

The pilot returned to the scene and has cooperated with the investigation. The involved plane is equipped with tundra tires allowing for takeoff and landing in this area, and the pilot reports having previously landed and taken off from this area approximately 50 times.“Based on the injuries and the location of those marks on the kayak, I would say that her body was physically struck, as well as the kayak,” Elliott said.

Elliott said pilots often land on gravel bars in the area, and the pilot involved in Wednesday’s incident has done it dozens of times.

He also said while the incident is odd, it’s not unprecedented. Something similar happened not far away in 1994, when two people in a canoe were killed as a seaplane was taking off.

“Both the pontoons of the float hit the two adults that were in the canoe and they were both killed,” Elliott said. “And there were two children in the canoe, that were just offset to either side, and they were uninjured.”

The pilot in the 1994 case was initially charged with criminally negligent homicide, but he was later acquitted and allowed to fly again.

North Bend Homicide Suspect Extradited Back to Oregon

The man accused of killing four people in North Bend has been extradited back to Oregon.

Oen Nicholson was transferred out of custody in Milwaukee Thursday night.

“The extradition warrants issued by the Governor of Wisconsin were served upon Oen Evan Nicholson on July 23, 2021,” Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier said in a statement. “Mr. Nicholson made a court appearance in Wisconsin on July 26 and at that time he indicated that he no longer wished to contest extradition back to Oregon.”

He’s been in Wisconsin for more than a month after Coos County authorities say he killed four people in North Bend and then forced a Springfield woman to drive him across the country in June.

“Accordingly, the court in Wisconsin ordered that Mr. Nicholson be returned to Oregon no later than August 9, 2021,” Frasier explained.

Officers from Coos County law enforcement traveled to Wisconsin and returned Nicholson to Coos County early Friday morning. He is currently lodged at the Coos County Jail in Coquille. Nicholson’s first court appearance is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Friday (August 6, 2021).

Must Read

Rogue Valley News, Thursday 8/19 – UPDATE: Woman Missing in Grants Pass Found Safe, 200 Workers Released After Raid On Illegal Marijuana Grow Near Kerby

Renee Shaw

Rogue Valley News, Wednesday 4/13 – Massive Explosion Rocks Medford, Talent Middle School Teacher Indicted for Sex Crimes

Renee Shaw

Rogue Valley News, Friday 3/15 – Grants Pass Homeless Case Will Be Heard By Supreme Court April 22nd, Lithia Artisans Market Opens Saturday & Other Local and Statewide News…

Renee Shaw