Rogue Valley News, Monday 5/23 – Fire Breaks Out At Apartment Complex In Medford, Structure Fire In Eagle Point

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

Monday, May 23, 2022

Rogue Valley Weather

Fire Breaks Out At Apartment Complex In Medford

One resident was burned and transported to the hospital by Mercy Flights Ambulance after a fire broke out at the Village Apartments in Medford on Saturday evening.

At around 8:50 pm Saturday, a fire broke out at an apartment complex in Medford. Several fire units with the Medford Fire Department (MFD) were on scene at the Village Apartments at 725 Royal Ave.

A battalion chief with the Medford Fire Department, Kip Gray said the fire began on the first floor and spread up a wall and into the attack space of two other apartments.

“When we first arrived, we found the first-floor apartment fully engulfed in the fire, and when we went in and searched for people and we did not find anyone else inside,” Gray said.

In total, Gray said four of the units are now uninhabitable and have left four families displaced.

Mercy Flights was also on the scene. Medford Police had Royal Ave closed.

According to an MFD Facebook post, firefighters knocked down the fire and were working on hotspots and conducting an overhaul around 10:25 pm.

People were evacuated. According to MFD battalion chief, Kipp Gray, one person was injured and at least four apartments were damaged and now deemed “unlivable.”

Gray said Red Cross was assisting the residents affected by the incident. The fire is knocked down, firefighters are working on hotspots and conducting overhaul. There is one reported injury. Mercy Flights Ambulance transported the patient to the hospital with burns. Medford Fire investigators are on scene conducting the investigation of the origin and cause of the fire.

Crews Respond To Structure Fire In Eagle Point

At 7:03 pm on Sunday night, units responded to an active structure fire at 16171 Highway 62 in Eagle Point.

Jackson County Fire Districts 3 and 4, as well as Jackson County Sheriff are currently on scene.

The fire is still under investigation and no other information has been issued at this time.

Rogue River Closure: Boatnik Races

2022 Boatnik Races

To: Waterway Users 
From: Josephine County Sheriff Marine Patrol 
Re: Water use regulations and race event schedule 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: 
During the Boatnik Races, the Rogue River will be closed in designated areas and during designated times (Refer to the race schedule listed below). All spectators will remain off the water until the races are over. All spectators will remain 50 feet from the waterway at all times. 
Movement on the water is Restricted to Law Enforcement, Rescue personnel and Authorized Race Officials during the closures. Private boats are not allowed to assist with crash/rescue operations for safety reasons.

Boats can be anchored on the shoreline if it is deemed safe by Race Officials and Law Enforcement. All users shall be OFF the water and in an approved area 1 hour prior to the start of the race. Any unauthorized boat on the water during the closure may be cited for Reckless or Unsafe Operation (ORS 830.315 & 305 / $421.00). Law Enforcement will be patrolling the waterways during the race events. 

RIVER CLOSURES: 

Closed Friday May 27th, 2022 Baker Park to Sixth Street Bridge during events scheduled from 7:00pm to 10:15pm. 

Closed Saturday May 28th, 2022 Baker Park to Sixth Street Bridge during events scheduled from 12:00pm to 6:00pm. 

Closed Sunday May 29th, Baker Park to Sixth Street Bridge during events scheduled 10:00am to 6:00pm. 

Closed Monday May 30th, 2022 Baker Park to Sixth Street Bridge during race events scheduled from 9:00am to 3:00pm. Monday May 30th, 2022 the Rogue River from Baker Park to Robertson Bridge including all boat ramps will be CLOSED during race events scheduled from 12:00pm to 3:00pm.

Cases of Covid-19 are on the rise again in Oregon

Public health professors at Portland State tell us there is some good news: hospitalizations and deaths are not spiking. There are also new tools now, including an antiviral medication that doctors can prescribe to those who test positive.

New data from the Oregon Health Authority shows cases of COVID-19 on the rise once again. But some public health professors at Portland State said hospitalizations and deaths are not spiking.

With the number of people vaccinated growing, Carlos Crespo of the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health said more people are getting mild cases.

“We do not all have to get sick at the same time. That was the whole purpose of flattening the curve. We probably were not thinking that we were never going to catch it. I think we suspected that this was going to be around with us for a while,” Crespo said.

Crespo said pharmaceutical companies are also working to develop a more targeted vaccine to the changing virus.

“I think new vaccines most likely would be in the fall and every vaccine, as you have seen it takes a very rigorous way to test them to make sure they’re safe and effective,” he said.

One virology professor at Portland State said he’s wary of an additional vaccine making an impact.

“We can make another shot now for what we have now, but that may or may not be what we have come the fall. So far, the original vaccines have worked really, really well,” said Ken Stedman, a biology professor at Portland State University.

Both professors said there are new tools now. Additional free tests through the federal government are available, and an antiviral medication can be prescribed in the form of a pill.

“I think we’re at a stage where it is endemic, which means it’s going to be everywhere and we’re just going to have to live with the fact that Covid-19 is going to be among us for a long time,” Crespo said.

During this time, the experts encourage keeping a mask on hand for indoor settings, and continuing to test after exposure if symptoms develop.

Predominant in S Africa, expected to become predominant across Europe and detected in the U.S. Don't appear more severe than previous Omicron subvariants, but more contagious and may better evade immunity. Oregon's first BA.4 case detected this week via genetic sequencing of positive COVID-19 tests. BA.5 not yet detected in Oregon. Layered COVID-19 protections like vaccines and masks reduces risk of severe COVID-19.

OHA closely monitoring BA.4 and BA.5, the Omicron subvariants of the virus that causes #COVID19. Here’s what we know.Layering COVID-19 protections, such as staying up to date with vaccines and boosters and wearing a mask, is the best way to increase your protection level and reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 illness.

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Oregon Cracks Down On Seatbelt Violations With ‘Click It Or Ticket’ Campaign

Make sure you buckle up, as law enforcement agencies across Oregon roll out a statewide crack-down on seatbelt violations.

The effort is part of an annual nationwide “Click It, or Ticket” campaign.

Local agencies will use federal funding to educate people about seatbelt and child seat laws.

Oregon Department of Transportation data from 2020 shows improper seat belt use was a factor in 32-percent of deadly crashes in the state. The campaign runs through June 5.

Increased emergency SNAP benefits continue in June

  • Most Oregonians who receive SNAP benefits will continue to receive temporarily increased emergency food benefits in June
  • Approximately 411,000 SNAP households will receive approximately $66 million in extra food benefits in addition to their regular SNAP benefits
  • These emergency benefits are a temporary support that Oregon can provide because of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency
  • Find resources to meet your basic needs: Dial 2-1-1, or text your zip code to 898-211, www.211info.org 
  • Oregon Department of Human Services COVID-19 help center 

(Salem) – Most Oregonians who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will receive emergency allotments in June.

The federal government has approved emergency allotments every month since March 2020. This gives SNAP recipients additional support during the COVID-19 pandemic. These emergency benefits are a temporary support that Oregon can provide because of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency.

Because the federal government approved these emergency benefits for June, Oregon will also be able to issue them in July. However, the emergency benefits are expected to end when the federal public health emergency ends.

In June, approximately 411,000 SNAP households will receive approximately $66 million in extra food benefits in addition to their regular SNAP benefits.

“We know that many rely on these additional emergency food benefits to get enough healthy food for themselves and their families,” said Claire Seguin, deputy director of the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Self-Sufficiency Programs. “We also know that many Oregonians are still struggling to meet their basic needs and we encourage them to contact our partners at 211 and the Oregon Food Bank for support during this difficult time.”

Current SNAP households will receive emergency allotments on June 11. Emergency allotments will be issued June 30 or July 2 for households who did not receive benefits in the first monthly issuance.

SNAP recipients do not have to take any action to receive these supplemental benefits as they will be issued directly on their EBT cards. 

More information about emergency allotments is available at https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/ASSISTANCE/FOOD-BENEFITS/Pages/Emergency-Allotments.aspx.

Questions about your SNAP benefits should be directed to the ONE Customer Service Center at 1-800-699-9075.

If your household receives SNAP and your income or the number of people in your household has changed, it could impact your benefits. It is important to make sure ODHS has the most up-to-date information. 

You can report any changes to your income or household in many ways: 

  • Online at: ONE.Oregon.gov
  • By mail at: ONE Customer Service Center, PO Box 14015, Salem, OR 97309
  • By fax at: 503-378-5628
  • By phone at: 1-800-699-9075 or TTY 711

Resources to help meet basic needs

Administered by ODHS, SNAP is a federal program that provides food assistance to approximately 1 million eligible, low-income families and individuals in Oregon, including many older adults and people with disabilities. Oregonians in need can apply for benefits, including SNAP, child care, cash assistance and Medicaid. Learn more at https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/benefits/Pages/index.aspx . For local resources in your area, such as food or shelter, please call 2-1-1 or reach out to the state’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) at 1-855-ORE-ADRC or 1-855-673-2372.

Regulations Should Help Consumers To Get Better Notice When Oregon Utilities Shut Down Power During Wildfires

Power companies in Oregon will still decide whether to shut off power if there’s a high risk of wildfires.

But new state rules will now require large utilities owned by investors to publicize certain details in advance about a shutoff, like when it will start and how long it’s expected to last, and to provide status updates every 24 hours.

Oregon’s Public Utility Commission has adopted a permanent plan for public notification of planned electric shutdowns in the event of a wildfire or weather event.

The plan largely mirrors temporary rules adopted last May that told Pacific Power, Portland General Electric and Idaho Power to ensure that those affected by a planned power shutdown are informed. According to the rules, these utilities need to notify emergency managers, government agencies, local officials and the public in advance, if possible, of a power outage and then provide daily updates.

“Sometimes things happen really quickly,” said Kandi Young, spokeswoman for the utility commission. “In some cases, they can plan ahead.”

The rules tell the public, government agencies, fire officials and others about plans to de-energize lines so that they can prepare and will know what to expect. They only cover the three investor-owned utilities in Oregon which serve 1.5 million Oregonians, only about one-third of the population. The rest of the state is served by 38 consumer-owned electric utilities that are overseen by local boards or municipalities.

The rules do not determine when a shutoff should be instituted.

“That responsibility lies with the utility,” Young said. “They know their system. They know where vegetation is a challenge. They know their transmission lines and where there is a potential for risk better than anybody.”

De-energizing lines is only used as a last resort because it can affect hospitals, police and fire officials, water services and people who require electricity for health devices, Young said.

“It’s something that has always been there as an option but hasn’t really been used in the West until more recent years,” Young said.

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Pacific Power and PacifiCorp, its owner, face several lawsuits in Oregon over wildfire damage. The latest appears to have been filed Friday in Multnomah County Circuit Court. The complaint was not yet available on the court’s public information website. A suit filed in April, also in Multnomah County, on behalf of 21 people, accuses the companies of responsibility for the Echo Mountain Complex fire in Lincoln County in 2020, which burned 2,500 acres, killed pets and damaged more than 300 structures and property, the suit said. It said executives knew hot, dry conditions with strong winds could spark a wildfire, noting that other utilities chose to de-energize lines. The suit seeks up to $5 million in damages for each plaintiff.

Another lawsuit filed in March in Multnomah County Circuit Court seeks more than $10 million in damages from the Slater Fire, which spread from northern California into Jackson and Josephine counties in September 2020. The suit, on behalf of nearly 30 people and a few companies, accuses the companies of negligence in not shutting off its power lines in dangerous weather conditions. Other companies de-energized lines, the suit said. That suit has moved to U.S. District Court in Portland.

The companies also face lawsuits in California where prosecutors reached an agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric last month for more than $55 million over two wildfires caused by its power lines, according to news reports.

Drew Hanson, a company spokesman, said PacifiCorp does not comment on pending litigation. He said the company has only de-energized lines twice – in Weed, California, at the base of Mount Shasta in 2020 and in Dunsmuir in the Trinity Mountains in northern California in 2021. The shutoffs lasted less than nine hours.

Companies can only de-energize lines in designated high-risk areas in anticipation of a potentially catastrophic wildfire, Hanson said. He said the company looked at 10 years of data on past fires, wind patterns, fuel sources, topography and other factors to determine the high-risk areas. “The identification of those areas helps the company prioritize where the over $300 million in system hardening and wildfire mitigation work is being done now and over the coming years,” Hanson said.

In April, the commission approved the wildfire mitigation plans for Pacific Power and Portland General Electric . Approval of the plan for Idaho Power , which serves 20,000 customers in eastern Oregon, hinges on the company providing additional details about risk areas, their cost/risk mitigation assumptions and analysis and costs.

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The plans, which were filed in December, mark the first time that the companies have filed such reports in Oregon. But PacifiCorp has filed similar reports in California since 2018, Hanson said.

“We have a history of planning for and mitigating against the threat of wildfire risk,” Hanson said. He said the company considers factors like past wildfires, topography,

Pacific Power’s plan designated 13 areas serving 21,000 customers as high-risk, with the potential for a public safety power shutoff. They include Cave Junction, Glendale, Jerome Prairie, Merlin and the South Rogue River.

Portland General Electric designated 10 high-risk areas, including three which it added this year, according to Andrea Platt, a company spokeswoman. Portland General Electric only had one high-risk area in 2020, she said.

The 10 areas include Mount Hood, the Columbia River, Estacada, Oregon City and other areas around Portland.

The company has had a mitigation strategy since 2020, Platt said.

The company has only had one public safety power shutoff – in 2020 near Mount Hood that affected 5,000 customers. That decision coincided with the Labor Day fires sweeping the region.

Albertsons And Safeway Recall Store-Prepared Items With Peanut Butter Due To Possible Salmonella Contamination  As Recall Issued On Some Jif Peanut Butter Products

Albertsons Companies, in cooperation with its supplier The J. M. Smucker Co., said Sunday it has voluntarily recalled 11 store-prepared items, also sold at Safeway, due to possible Salmonella contamination.

The FDA’s recall announcement can be found here.

Here’s the rest of the Albertsons announcement:

The store-prepared items were available for purchase at the following banners: Albertsons, Safeway, Lucky, Haggen, Carrs-Safeway, Eagle, Tom Thumb, United, Amigos, Market Street, Albertsons Market, Andronico’s Community Markets, Vons, Pak ‘N Save, Shaw’s, Star Market, Randalls, Vons, Jewel-Osco, ACME, King’s and Balducci’s.

Consumers who have purchased these items are urged not to consume these products and to dispose of them or return the items to their local store for a full refund.

There have been no reports of injuries or adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a health care provider.

Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Consumers who have questions or would like to report adverse reactions should visit www.jif.com/contact-us or call 800-828-9980 Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM ET. Consumers can also contact Albertsons Companies at 1-877-723-3929.

Product Recall Details:

Product NameSell Thru DatesSizePackagingStatesBanners
MINI PEANUT BUTTER CREAM PIEAll Sell thru Dates up to and including May 26, 22EachClear plastic square bottom and lidWashingtonHaggen
APPLES SLICED WITH PEANUT BUTTERAll Sell thru Dates up to and including May 24, 228 ozClear plastic cup and lidColorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, WyomingAlbertsons, Safeway, Lucky
CELERY & PEANUT BUTTER CUPAll Sell thru Dates up to and including May 26, 227 ozClear plastic cup and lidAlaska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, WyomingAlbertsons, Carrs-Safeway, Eagle, Lucky, Safeway
CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUPAll Sell thru Dates up to and including Jul 20, 225 ozClear plastic cup overwrapped in plasticWashingtonHaggen
DELI SNACK PEANUT BTR/TRAIL MIX COMBOAll Sell thru Dates up to and including May 26, 229 ozClear plastic square bottom and lidAlaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, WyomingAlbertsons, Carrs-Safeway, Eagle, Randalls, Safeway, Tom Thumb
Grab & Go Apple & Celery Tray w/Peanut ButterAll Sell thru Dates up to and including May 24, 22EachClear plastic container and lidNew Mexico, TexasUnited, Amigos, Market Street, Albertsons Market.
PEANUT BUTTER & CHOC FILLED JMBO CUPCAKEAll Sell thru Dates up to and including May 26, 227.92 ozClear plastic bottom and lidCalifornia, Hawaii, NevadaSafeway, Andronico’s Community Markets, Vons, Pak ‘N Save
READYMEALS PB & TRAIL MIX SNACKAll Sell thru Dates up to and including May 24, 227.60 ozClear plastic square bottom and lidMaine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, VermontShaw’s, Star Market
READYMEALS QUAD PB APPLE CELERY PRETZELAll Sell thru Dates up to and including May 24, 227 ozClear plastic square bottom and lidAlaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, WyomingAlbertsons, Andronico’s Community Markets, Carrs-Safeway, Eagle, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Pak ‘N Save, Randalls, Safeway, Tom Thumb, Vons
READYMEALS QUAD PB APPLE PRETZEL BROWNIEAll Sell thru Dates up to and including May 24, 226 ozClear plastic square bottom and lidAlaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Washington DC, WyomingACME, Albertsons, Andronico’s Community Markets, Carrs-Safeway, Eagle, King’s, Balducci’s, Lucky, Pak ‘N Save, Safeway, Vons
SCRATCH PIE PEANUT BUTTER CRM 9INAll Sell thru Dates up to and including May 26, 22EachBlack plastic tray with clear plastic dome lidWashingtonHaggen
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