Rogue Valley News, Wednesday 8/25 – Firefighter Who Died Working on Middle Fork Complex Fire from Medford, FEMA Emergency Housing Projects From Last Year’s Fires Ending In Jackson County

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

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather 

Air Quality Alert

Today– Widespread haze. Sunny, with a high near 85. Calm wind becoming north northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.

Thursday– Widespread haze. Sunny, with a high near 86. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.
Friday– Sunny, with a high near 85. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.
Saturday– Sunny, with a high near 94.
Sunday– Sunny, with a high near 94.

Firefighter Who Died Working on Middle Fork Complex Fire from Medford

The firefighter who died Monday while battling a wildfire southeast of Eugene, Oregon has been identified as Frumencio Ruiz Carapia of Medford.

Ruiz Carapia, 56, was working along the eastern edge of the Gales fire when he was struck by a falling tree, according to a news release Tuesday from Lane County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tom Speldrich.

Despite immediate efforts by those around him, Ruiz Carapia died at the scene, the news release said. No other injuries were reported.

An investigation showed the accident wasn’t the result of any tree cutting but that the tree unexpectedly snapped and fell to the ground, according to the sheriff’s office.

Nearly 600 personnel are working on the Gales Fire, which is within the Middle Fork Complex of fires that started in the Willamette National Forest the week of July 26.

FEMA Emergency Housing Projects From Last Year’s Fires Ending In Jackson County

FEMA’s temporary emergency housing projects following the Almeda Fire are wrapping up in Jackson County as the final eligible families begin to move in.

An overhead view of Coleman Creek Estates in Phoenix, which is having 69 manufactured homes installed. The homes at Coleman Creek Estates are in addition to the over 100 at other locations in Jackson County. (Courtesy: FEMA)

The remaining 69 families will be moving in to manufactured homes at Coleman Creek Estates in Phoenix next week.“It has been probably one of the biggest housing missions in the United States. I’m glad we’re at the end of the system right now, which is good, but we’re looking forward to the next steps,” said FEMA spokesman Paul Corah.

The homes at Coleman Creek Estates are in addition to over 100 at other locations in Jackson County, including Totem Pole Trailer Park in Talent and Rogue Valley Mobile Village in Medford. The homes are rent-free, and families can move out at any time if they find a more permanent housing solution.

“Now, we need to get permanent housing built down in Jackson County, that’s our next stage. We’re not responsible for the permanent housing, but we’re going to be monitoring it and do whatever we can to help the survivors of the state,” Corah said.

According to federal aid regulations, fire survivors can only stay in temporary emergency homes until Mar. 2022, 18 months after the disaster declaration following the Almeda Fire was made. Corah says FEMA is already having conversations with the state and the cities involved about a longer-term plan.

“Will there be a possibility at the end that survivors maybe be able to buy those housing units there? That’s very much going to be a possibility,” he said. “Could we take some of those housing units that when people move out, can we sell them to the local cities or donate them to local cities? We are in talks right now to see what we can do.”

Corah said there is a possibility that FEMA could expand the housing mission to other families in need if some fire survivors move out and there are no more eligible families waiting.

“If there’s a general need that they’re already applied for, or they’re coming to us saying, ‘Hey, something’s changed,’ We’ll certainly take a look at that. If we have a unit available, then we can certainly do that. But it’s going to be on an individual basis, we’re always open,” he said.

UPDATE: Fatal Crash on I-5 near Ashland

On Tuesday, August 24, 2021 at approximately 5:35 A.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a two vehicle crash on Interstate 5 near mile post 15.

Preliminary investigation revealed a Chevrolet Malibu, operated by Angela Chin-Hugh (59) of Kent, WA. was northbound in the southbound lanes when it collided with a southbound Kia Spectra operated by Cesar Beltran (25) of White City.

Chin-Hugh and Beltran sustained fatal injuries and were pronounced deceased.

OSP was assisted by Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Ashland Police Department, and ODOT.   Oregon State Police

Grand Jury Rules Second-Degree Murder Charge For Suspect In Gold Hill Killing

The 18-year-old suspect accused of shooting another man in Gold Hill last week was formally charged in Jackson County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

Deputies arrested Wiley River Foxx in the early morning hours last Thursday after responding to reports of “gunshots, screaming, and subjects fleeing the scene” from the 500-block of Gustaf Street in Gold Hill.

First responders arrived to find the victim, 24-year-old Thomas James Watters, unresponsive. According to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Watters was pronounced dead at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds.

Deputies lodged Foxx at the Jackson County Jail on an initial charge of Murder in the Second Degree. On Tuesday, a grand jury returned an indictment of Foxx on that charge.

Foxx’s next court date will be an arraignment set for September 20. Foxx has not yet entered a plea, and will do so at the arraignment.

Oregon reports 2,804 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 30 new deaths

There are 30 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 3,066. The Oregon Health Authority reported 2,804 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 260,425.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (7), Benton (37), Clackamas (171), Clatsop (46), Columbia (15), Coos (65), Crook (22), Curry (24), Deschutes (135), Douglas (240), Gilliam (1), Grant (4), Harney (7), Hood River (12), Jackson (242), Jefferson (7), Josephine (195), Klamath (25), Lake (3), Lane (195), Lincoln (72), Linn (110), Malheur (47), Marion (464), Morrow (10), Multnomah (152), Polk (45), Sherman (3), Tillamook (26) Umatilla (87), Union (15), Wallowa (4), Wasco (50), Washington (162) and Yamhill (104).

Oregon’s 3,042nd COVID-19 death is an 84-year-old man from Jackson County who tested positive on Aug. 2 and died on Aug. 11 at his residence. He had underlying conditions.

Oregon’s 3,043rd COVID-19 death is a 70-year-old woman from Jackson County who tested positive on Aug. 2 and died on Aug. 11 at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. She had underlying conditions.

Oregon’s 3,044th COVID-19 death is a 73-year-old man from Jackson County who tested positive on Aug. 8 and died on Aug. 21 at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. He had underlying conditions.

Oregon’s 3,045th COVID-19 death is an 88-year-old woman from Jackson County who tested positive on July 11 and died on Aug. 17 at her residence. She had underlying conditions.

Oregon’s 3,046th COVID-19 death is a 59-year-old woman from Jackson County who tested positive on Aug. 16 and died on Aug. 21 at Providence Medford Medical Center. She had underlying conditions.

Oregon’s 3,047th COVID-19 death is a 95-year-old man from Jackson County who tested positive on Aug. 19 and died on Aug. 21 at Providence Medford Medical Center. He had underlying conditions.

Oregon’s 3,048th COVID-19 death is a 67-year-old woman from Jackson County who tested positive on July 31 and died on Aug. 20 at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. She had underlying conditions.

Oregon’s 3,049th COVID-19 death is an 81-year-old man from Josephine County who tested positive on Aug. 14 and died on Aug. 21 at Asante Three Rivers Medical Center. Presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.

Oregon’s 3,050th COVID-19 death is an 80-year-old man from Josephine County who tested positive on Aug. 10 and died on Aug. 21 at Asante Three Rivers Medical Center. Presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.

Oregon’s 3,051st COVID-19 death is an 83-year-old man from Josephine County who tested positive on Aug. 12 and died on Aug. 21 at Asante Three Rivers Medical Center. Presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.

Oregon’s 3,052nd COVID-19 death is a 77-year-old woman from Josephine County who tested positive on Aug. 12 and died on Aug. 22 at Asante Three Rivers Medical Center. Presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.

Oregon’s 3,053rd COVID-19 death is a 77-year-old man from Josephine County who tested positive on Aug. 8 and died on Aug. 21 at Asante Three Rivers Medical Center. Presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.

COVID-19 hospitalizations

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 1,000 which is 63 more than yesterday. There are 283 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is 30 more than yesterday.

There are 45 available adult ICU beds out of 667 total (7% availability) and 369 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,191 (9% availability).


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.

Note: Please do not visit an emergency department for COVID-19 testing, unless you require emergency care for your symptoms. Emergency departments in Oregon are under significant strain responding to the current surge in COVID-19. You can find a test here.  

If you have a medical condition that doesn’t require emergency care, an urgent care center will help you get the care you need and will save emergency departments from added strain.  

More information about hospital capacity can be found here.

OHA reports 1,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations

“Today, OHA is reporting 1,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations, a pandemic high and yet another grim milestone in Oregon’s ongoing struggle with the virus, said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the state health officer.

“This represents 1,000 people who spent the night in the hospital being away from their families and being cared for by health care providers who even in their exhausted states, are continuing to care for those who are sick with this virus. My thoughts are with all of them.

“We are far exceeding the hospitalization numbers we saw during the pre-vaccination surges of last fall and winter. This is putting an unprecedented strain on our local hospitals. Already, we have seen some hospitals suspend much-needed medical procedures because of the overflowing capacity. This affects every Oregonian family and it is not sustainable.

“The overwhelming majority of COVID-19 patients in our hospitals are unvaccinated. The Delta variant is highly contagious. Unvaccinated people are at the most serious risk of hospitalization and, tragically, even death from the disease. I urge everyone who has not yet been vaccinated to please make a plan and get the vaccine. And I urge everyone to wear masks in indoor public settings, or when outdoors among large gatherings. By taking these measures we more quickly slow this surge and once again regain the upper hand against the virus.”

Statewide Mask Mandate Starts Friday 8/27

Governor Kate Brown announced on Tuesday that Oregon’s statewide mask mandate will be expanded to include outdoor public spaces, particularly large events and other circumstances where physical distancing is not possible.

The new requirement begins Friday, August 27, and applies regardless of vaccination status. The Oregon Health Authority also highly recommended masks for private outdoor gatherings when people from different households cannot consistently maintain physical distancing.

At the Governor’s direction, the OHA plans to issue a new rule on the topic. The rule does not apply to “fleeting encounters,” such as when two people walk by one another on a trail or in a park. The rule also does not apply to private settings, despite the strong recommendation from the OHA.

Mask requirements for day-to-day operations at K-12 schools are not governed by this rule, and will instead
continue to fall under the school mask rule. Outside public events, spectator events, and gatherings of the general
public on K-12 school grounds will be subject to the rule. Child care and youth programs will continue to follow
existing OHA mask guidance.

Smoke limited fire activity on most ongoing fires yesterday until some clearing in the afternoon allowed low to moderate activity on ongoing fires. Slightly warmer yesterday than the previous day with moderately low humidity and light winds.

Mostly sunny in the morning with smokey conditions in eastern Oregon. Clouds developed late in the afternoon and
blanketed most of the region by nightfall. There were good humidity recoveries overnight on the west side and moderate to poor recoveries on the east side. No lightning was detected across the region and initial attack activity was light.

After a dry day, the first of a series of upper-level troughs will approach later this afternoon, increasing cloud cover and boosting breezes through Cascade gaps in the afternoon and bring some light rain chances tonight mainly over the Olympics and Washington Cascades. Precipitation chances continue in the northern Cascades Thursday, then shift to northeastern Washington Friday. Gap breezes will pick up a bit more Thursday and Friday afternoons, then calm for the weekend. A flat upper-level ridge will move across the region over the weekend for a brief warming spell before another trough cools the region again early next week.

Diminished fire danger coupled with seasonable temperature and humidity will keep the potential for new significant fires at or below seasonal normal through the work week. Warmer, drier conditions over the weekend will elevate potential for parts of south-central and southwestern Oregon Sunday early next week.

Wildfires happen fast and spread quickly. If you had to evacuate at a moment’s notice, would you be ready?

– Make a plan: 
– Have a go-kit: 
– Receive alerts: 
– Be ready: 

Embedded video

Here are links to be able to see updated info on the larger fires in Oregon:

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:

Oregon’s Waiting Week for Unemployment Insurance Returns Sept. 5

Aug. 24, 2021 (Salem, OR)- Starting Sept. 5, the waiting week will again apply to unemployment insurance benefit claims. The waiting week does not impact the number of weeks claimants receive in benefits or the total amount they may be paid. It does mean people need to wait until after the first week they are otherwise eligible for unemployment insurance benefits to get those benefits.

Last year, Governor Brown declared an emergency and waived the waiting week during the pandemic so people were able to receive benefits the first week they filed a claim. Even after the expiration of that emergency declaration, the Governor waived the waiting week further, through the duration of federal pandemic-related unemployment insurance programs. This decision was based on the Oregon Employment Department’s findings that this further waiver would help Oregonians by providing additional federal resources to people in need. With those federal pandemic unemployment programs ending, Oregon law requires that the normally applicable waiting week resume.

“We know unemployment benefits are a critical safety net and people rely on these funds to provide for their families and stay in their homes. With temporary federal benefits ending Sept. 4 and COVID-19 on the rise, this is a stressful time for many throughout the country. We want to make sure people have the information they need when we return to regular unemployment insurance (UI) benefit rules, including the waiting week,” said David Gerstenfeld, acting director of the Oregon Employment Department.

The department’s resources webpage has a list of organizations and services that may help people during this one-week gap in benefits.

The reinstatement of the waiting week may impact approximately 11,000 people, who include:

  • People filing an initial claim for regular UI benefits.
  • People currently receiving Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits who were eligible for a regular UI claim after their original PEUC claim expired. PEUC rules required that they continue receiving their PEUC weekly benefit amount if it was at least $25 or more than the WBA on their new claim. Once PEUC ends Sept. 4, 2021, these individuals will be moved back to their new, regular UI claim, triggering a waiting week.

Oregon state law requires people receiving regular UI benefits serve a waiting week. Any changes to this law would require legislative action. The waiting week is the first week of a person’s regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim when they meet all eligibility requirements. They must claim the week, but they are not paid for it. 

The first week people claim after Sept 4., and for which they are eligible for benefits, will be their waiting week. They need to complete work-seeking requirements and file their weekly claim during their waiting week, but they will not be paid unemployment benefits for it.  People already receiving regular UI benefits will not have a waiting week, unless they later file a new claim for regular UI benefits.  Oregon Employment Department

Former Klamath Falls Police Officer Pleads Guilty for Stealing Methamphetamine and Fentanyl from Evidence Room

A former Klamath Falls police officer pleaded guilty today in federal court after stealing methamphetamine and fentanyl from an evidence room.

Thomas Dwayne Reif, 28, pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge.

According to court documents, on or about November 27, 2020, Reif is alleged to have entered the Klamath Falls Police Department’s temporary evidence room using an unauthorized key and removed an evidence item containing methamphetamine and fentanyl. Reif briefly left the evidence room before returning the evidence item to the evidence locker and leaving the facility.

Shortly thereafter, Reif overdosed while operating his police car. The car jumped a median, traveled into oncoming traffic, and caused a multiple-vehicle accident. Reif was rushed to the hospital and successfully revived by medical personnel. Toxicology reports showed that Reif was under the influence of substances including methamphetamine and fentanyl.

Investigators searched the personal locker assigned to Reif at the Klamath Falls Police Department. Inside the locker, investigators found that Reif had concealed an evidence bag containing methamphetamine.

On May 20, 2021, a federal grand jury in Medford returned a two-count indictment charging Reif with possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge.

Reif faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison, a $250,000 fine and one year of supervised release. He will be sentenced on November 23, 2021 before U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from Oregon State Police. It is being prosecuted by John C. Brassell, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. Klamath Falls Police Department cooperated and provided assistance throughout the investigation. U.S. Attorney’s Office – District of Oregon

Woman Arrested in Attempted Kidnapping in Portland

A woman was arrested Sunday after attempting to kidnap a 6-year-old boy, threatening his parents with a machete and an ax, and shouting racial slurs at the family, authorities said.

(Multnomah County Jail / Portland Police Bureau)

Elizabeth A. Zurcher-Wood, 37, approached a family that was waiting in line outside a pizzeria just before 4 p.m. in downtown Portland, the Portland Police Bureau said.

Zurcher-Wood told the family that she wanted to take the boy and lunged at him, according to police. When the family tried to back away and threw objects at Zurcher-Wood to keep her back, police said the suspect threatened them with the bladed weapons and used racial slurs before running away.

Officers were alerted to the attempted kidnapping and responded to Southwest 3rd Avenue and West Burnside Street. After being warned the suspect had a machete and an ax, officers found Zurcher-Wood a few blocks away.

Zurcher-Wood cooperated with officers and was arrested. The machete and ax found in her possession were seized as evidence, police said.

Zurcher-Wood was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges of second-degree kidnapping, three counts of second-degree bias, unlawful use of a weapon, second-degree disorderly conduct and menacing.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to Kill More Wolves

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has authorized the killing of two more wolves in eastern Oregon, several weeks after the state fatally shot two young wolves from the same pack.

The Lookout Mountain pack was suspected of injuring or killing five cows over two weeks in July, and the state on Monday authorized ranchers to kill up to four of the wolves, excluding the breeding pair.

Another cow was attacked Friday, and the state-approved an extension of the original permit.

The pack consists of the breeding pair, both of whom are fitted with radio tracking collars, two yearlings and five 4-month-old pups.

Their territory is primarily in Baker County, near the Idaho and Washington borders. Two of the pack’s seven pups were shot by state officials using a helicopter earlier this month.

Powerball draw dates wrong on 273 printed tickets

The Oregon Lottery is asking players who purchased a Powerball ticket between 8/18 at 8:15 p.m. – 8/19 at 11:45 a.m. with advanced draws to contact Lottery customer service, as the printed draw dates may be incorrect. If they are, Lottery will provide a free bonus ticket that reflects the actual draw date printed on the ticket. 

On Powerball tickets with multiple draw dates purchased between 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 18 and 11:45 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 19, the printed draw dates may be incorrect. An error occurred during the system upgrade to add Monday Powerball draws, and instead of limiting players to only purchase one draw last week, terminals allowed players to continue to select advanced draws. As a result, 273 multi-draw tickets were sold showing incorrect draw dates.

The lottery system sells based on the number of draws chosen, not the actual dates. For example, if a player purchased six draws, the ticket would show three weeks’ worth of Weds/Sat dates. However, once the Monday draws were added to the system, the six draws would happen sooner – three per week instead of two. 

To accommodate this error and to meet the dates printed on impacted tickets, Lottery is offering free bonus tickets to impacted players. Players should save their tickets and contact the Lottery to determine if their ticket was one of the 273. 

Lottery customer service: 503-540-1000 Oregon Lottery 

Note: This issue is unrelated to the nationwide delay in the Multi State Lottery Association (MUSL) releasing Powerball results from Monday’s draw. 

Back to the Homepage

Must Read

OEM Offers Evacuation Best Practices to Help Oregonians Stay Safe During Wildfire Season: BE READY. BE SET. GO NOW!

Renee Shaw

Rogue Valley News, Thursday 1/13 – Skeletal Remains Discovered off Roxy Ann Peak Trail, Purple Parrot Armed Robberies

Renee Shaw

Rogue Valley News, Tuesday 6/29 – Grants Pass Rally for Missing Woman Today as Reports of Yet Another Missing Woman In Area Comes In, Case of Oregon’s Oldest Unidentified Person Found Near Ashland Solved

Renee Shaw