Rogue Valley News, Tuesday 6/28 – Two Serious Structure Fires in Josephine County, and Another Illegal Grow Bust

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Rogue Valley Weather

Structure Fire Destroys Two-Story Home In Murphy

Rural Metro Fire and ODF crews are mopping up what remains of a large, two-story home that was destroyed in a structure fire in Murphy. The home was fully involved and collapsing when the first units arrived but those inside escaped unharmed.

Crews were forced to focus their attention on the surrounding brush. One spot fire erupted on the other side of the Applegate River, growing to about two-tenths of an acre.

An ODF helicopter was also called in to patrol additional spots and cool the structure. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Structure Fire in the O’Brien

6/27/2022, call time 1415 hours, Illinois Valley Fire District, Rural Metro Fire – Josephine County, Oregon Department of Forestry, American Medical Response, Grants Pass Fire Rescue and PP&L responded to a fully involved structure fire at 32XXX on Hwy 199 just north of O Brien.

Rural Metro responded to the scene and Grants Pass Fire & Rescue covered the fire district.  There was some spread to the wildland, which was quickly contained by ODF. 

Two firefighters were transported with heat related issues, by AMR, for further evaluation. 
The fire is under investigation at this time.  Units remained on scene for mop up. 
The scene was monitored during the night.

Marijuana Search Warrant off Cloverlawn Drive in Grants Pass

On June 22, 2022, the Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team (JMET) with the assistance Rogue Area Drug Enforcement (RADE) executed a search warrant in the 4000 block of Cloverlawn Drive, Grants Pass, regarding an illegal marijuana grow site.

During the execution of the warrant, approximately 700 marijuana plants were seized and destroyed which were located inside multiple greenhouses on the property. In addition to the marijuana plants, approximately 2500 pounds of processed marijuana was located in outbuildings and underneath the main residence. Approximately 1.5 pounds of Methamphetamine and multiple firearms including a modified/short barrel shotgun, was also seized.  

41 year-old Tung Ming Chen was taken into custody and lodged at the Josephine County Jail for Unlawful Manufacturing of Marijuana, Unlawful Possession of Marijuana, Unlawful Delivery of Marijuana, Unlawful Possession of Methamphetamine and Unlawful Possession of a Short Barrel Shotgun.

At the time of this press release the investigation is ongoing and no further details are being released.

The family of a man missing since 2019 is offering a five thousand dollar reward for his location and physical discovery, according to the Klamath Falls City Police.

Ethan Swiger was last seen on December 16, 2019. Swiger would be 24 years old this year. He was last seen wearing a yellow jacket and camo pants.
Swiger has a physical disability which causes him to walk with a severe limp and has disfigurement to both wrists.
KFPD detective Yahwee (yaw-wee) is the lead investigator on the case. She can be reached at KFPD at 541-883-5336.

We want to keep you informed about COVID-19 in Oregon. Data are provisional and change frequently. This report covers the three-day period from June 24 to June 26. Due to an electronic laboratory report (ELR) processing issue, the majority of ELRs received on June 25 were not processed and counted until Sunday June 26. Test counts and percent positivity are lower than anticipated for June 26; percent positivity for the week of June 19 is lower than anticipated. Case counts are lower than anticipated for June 25 and higher than anticipated for June 26. For more information, including COVID-19 data by county, visit our dashboard:

Screen shot of linked dashboard shows an increase trend in cases and hospitalizations. Test positivity and vaccinations have plateaued. Please visit for more.

People have experienced a wide variety of symptoms from COVID-19. Some feel like they have a mild cold, while others feel exhausted. Some develop a lingering cough, while others lose their sense of smell and taste. In extreme cases, some people require hospitalization. And, unfortunately, some people die. Scientists haven’t yet figured out why COVID-19 presents with such a wide range of symptoms or why different people experience vastly different symptoms. But we do know why the virus causes individual symptoms as it attacks our cells and as our immune system works to fight it off. MORE INFO:

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Oregon State University Is Part Of An $8 Million Effort To Update And Improve The Nation’s Hydroelectric Generation Systems

Oregon State University is part of an $8 million Department of Energy effort to update and improve the operation of the nation’s hydroelectric generation systems, many of which are roughly a century old.

Ted Brekken, professor of electrical engineering and computer science in the OSU College of Engineering, will lead Oregon State’s $1.9 million portion of the project, along with co-principal investigators Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez and Yue Cao, also electrical engineering and computer science researchers at Oregon State. 

Brekken, who oversees the Wallace Energy Systems & Renewables Facility at OSU, will explore ways to enhance grid function and flexibility as the grid receives more electricity from wind and solar sources and deals with modern loads such as the charging of electric vehicles.

“These advances and improvements can be implemented within the next five to 10 years and will be relevant for decades to come,” Brekken said. 

Brekken is part of OSU’s Energy Systems group, which conducts research on a range of topics including renewable energy, motors, generators, power supplies, power quality and electrical systems resiliency.

Brekken’s team on the Department of Energy project is aiming to demonstrate and quantify the value of a hybrid hydroelectric-storage generation unit, which involves combining a hydropower unit that does not have storage capability with supercapacitors. 

Supercapacitors are short-term energy storage devices commonly used in systems requiring regular and rapid charge/discharge cycles, like automobiles and other vehicles, elevators and industrial machinery.

Brekken will guide the construction of a 200-kilowatt, lab-based hybrid hydroelectric-storage generation unit to serve as a testing ground for performance analysis and model validation.

The team will also develop a high-resolution, real-time, wide-area grid model for investigating the hoped-for grid operation benefits, which include improved ability to accommodate the growth of wind and solar generation, along with overall grid operational resilience and stability.

The other two grants awarded by the Department of Energy as part of the $8 million funding package to improve hydropower flexibility and grid reliability both went to teams led by power companies, General Electric and Littoral Power Systems.

Hydropower, one of the oldest and largest sources of renewable energy, uses the natural flow of moving water to generate electricity. It accounts for nearly 60% of Pacific Northwest electrical generation, 37% of total U.S. renewable electricity generation, and roughly 7% of total electricity generation, according to the DOE.

I-84 Reopens After Semi-Truck Crash Halts Traffic For Hours Through Columbia River Gorge

I-84 has fully reopened nearly nine hours after a Monday morning crash that completely closed long sections of the interstate between Hood River and Troutdale.

Oregon State Police said a blown tire on a truck carrying a crane Monday led to the crash at around 6:45 a.m. I-84 was closed in both directions until nearly 2:30 p.m. when eastbound trips resumed. About an hour later, westbound lanes also reopened.

Investigating police said the semi-truck’s driver, 37-year-old Marvin Klopfenstein, escaped with minor injuries after the vehicle he was driving crashed through the cement barricade separating the east and westbound lanes of the interstate.

The truck caught fire after the crash, and Oregon’s Department of Transportation closed roughly 47 miles of the highway in the Columbia River Gorge to manage clean-up. Police said around 200 gallons of fuel spilled from the crash, and environmental officials were on the scene for cleanup.

The truck and the crane boom it was hauling also gouged out chunks of asphalt as it slid on the highway, which officials said will need repair before the section of highway can reopen.

After fully reopening the interstate on Monday afternoon, ODOT officials cautioned travelers to expect congestion and watch for workers in the area west of Cascade Locks.

Oregon’s Trip Check website provides up-to-date information on all state road closures.

State Search And Rescue Warn Recreation Risks Heighten With Summer, Heat, And Water Activity

A combination of summer, heat and holiday have first responders and emergency services issuing advisories about recreational safety.

State Search and Rescue (SAR) Coordinator Scott Lucas knows the risks for people who are not prepared and equipped for outdoors activity, “They might take an unmarked trail or get disoriented, and they could be lost for days.”

Lucas says, “Our SAR teams have rescued many folks who have a certain idea of the outdoors based on what they’ve seen on reality TV.” 

Lucas stressed the importance of checking weather and road conditions, packing the proper gear, and confirming the destination is open before going, “Many of the trails and parks people are familiar with are closed from wildfire or flood damages or from recent weather including high mountain snow. Others haven’t been maintained for the last two years due to the pandemic. People need to respect these closures and stay out. Climbing over barriers or going past boundaries puts them at risk.”

The Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) knows sunshine and hot weather lead people to water, so it invites people to plan and prepare using its online tools and resources where people can check water levels, obstructions, tide information, local regulations and boating access before they go.

OSMB Public Information Officer Ashley Massey knows water recreation has risks as, “Most incidents and fatalities are caused by falling overboard or capsizing into cold water without a life jacket or the necessary skills for self-rescue.”

Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) says the number one precaution recreationists can heed comes from posted fire restrictions.  ODF offers a searchable map of public fire restrictions on its website.

ODF Public Affairs Specialist Jason Cox is aware more than half of Oregon is in extreme drought conditions, a concern shared with Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD).

It encourages people to check Oregon’s Interagency Recreation Site Status Map to confirm a destination is open, learn about any fire restrictions, and make sure they have the proper permits. 

Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) says while Oregonians are eager to be outside this summer for recreation, those state agencies are sharing best practices to keep adventures safe for people and for Oregon’s scenic landscape.

Man Drowns In Columbia River After Jumping In To Help Swimmer

A man went missing and likely drowned in the Columbia River on Sunday after witnesses say he jumped into the water to help someone else who was struggling to swim.

Missing swimmer in the Columbia River – Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office image

The man was reported missing at about 5:15 p.m. Sunday near the west end of Lemon Island, which is west of the Glenn Jackson Bridge.

Witnesses told Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office River Patrol Unit deputies the man jumped into the Columbia River from a boat to help a woman who was struggling to swim. She was able to get to safety, however, the man never resurfaced.

River Patrol deputies, Portland Fire & Rescue, and Port of Portland Fire searched the river in rescue boats, some using underwater scanning technology. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter also helped the search.

“Unfortunately, after an extensive search, the swimmer was not located. It is presumed the man drowned,” the sheriff’s office said.

Witnesses said he was not wearing a life jacket. The man’s name is being withheld while family members are being notified.

Shark Washes Up on Coast Near Cannon Beach

A broadnose sevengill shark washed ashore yesterday at the south end of Arcadia Beach State Park. The 8.7-foot, female shark had died prior to washing in but was still in remarkable shape. This morning the tide was low enough for us to recover the 120-pound shark, which will be frozen and used as both an educational tool and for ongoing research through Oregon State University.

The Seaside Aquarium posted a video of the shark on social media Monday:

Broadnose sevengill sharks are one of seventeen species of sharks that can be found off the Oregon Coast. While they are known for their aggressive behavior when feeding (and the fact that they can get quite large, nearly 10 feet and weighing up to 400 pounds) there has not been a documented attack on a human along the Oregon Coast. Worldwide, they have only been responsible for 5 attacks on humans since the 17th century. None of which were fatal. Though the jury is still out on that one since human remains have been found in the stomachs of some sevengills.

Like their name suggests, the broadnose sevengill shark is unique in that it has seven gills while most species of sharks have five gills (apart from two species of sixgill sharks, which you have already probably guessed have six gills). They can be found off the eastern and western Pacific, Argentina, and South Africa in estuaries, bays, and at ocean depths from nearshore to 400 feet. Smaller sevengills feed on fish and squid but as they get bigger, they start to prey on marine mammals and are known to hunt in packs.

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