Willamette Valley News, Wednesday, 9/9 – Willamette Valley and Oregon on Fire

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Eugene-Springfield Weather

Today Widespread smoke. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 78. North northwest wind around 6 mph. Overnight, widespread smoke. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 58. North northwest wind around 6 mph becoming calm in the evening.

Thursday Widespread smoke. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 80. Calm wind becoming west northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon. Mostly cloudy overnight, with a low around 54. West wind 5 to 7 mph becoming calm in the evening.

Friday Widespread smoke. Partly sunny, with a high near 87. Calm wind becoming northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Saturday Sunny, with a high near 86.

Sunday Mostly sunny, with a high near 80.

Today’s Headlines

Much of the state of Oregon is on fire.  Wildfires are consuming forest lands and now neighborhoods across the state. Governor Kate Brown declared a statewide conflaguration yesterday afternoon.

Holiday Farm Fire near Eugene-Springfield.

Around the Willamette Valley and around the state, countless homes and businesses have already been lost. The Governor’s declaration authorizes the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal to mobilize resources to assist local resources in battling fires. 

The skies in Eugene, Wednesday afternoon, 9/9/20. Poor air quality advisory for the Willamette Valley.

Firefighters saved McKenzie High, most of Vida; but most of Blue River destroyed.

The Holiday Farm Fire continues to rage out of control, burning over 105,000 acres in less than 2 days.

“The fire has burned through several communities,” according to a briefing Wednesday by the incident command team assigned to the fire. “At this time, we can confirm that, despite the best efforts of firefighters, Blue River has been heavily affected with most of the structures destroyed. McKenzie High School, however, was saved. Firefighters were also able to save a majority of the structures in Vida.”

Evacuations remain in effect for Vida, Blue River, Mohawk, McKenzie Bridge, Leaburg and Walterville.

The evacuation point is Thurston High School for those in Blue River and west of Blue River. Those east of Blue River should travel east to the Deschutes County Fairgrounds in Redmond.

“Red Flag conditions have caused explosive fire growth over the past two days on the Holiday Farm Fire,” according to the incident command team. “Firefighters have been constantly moving as they conduct rescue operations, and try to hold the fire when it’s possible. The region, the state and the entire West Coast have been heavily impacted by fires. Resources are scarce at this time.”

The Pacific Northwest and the U.S. are at preparedness level 5 for wildland firefighting. That means firefighters are already assigned to fires, and there is increased risk of fires escaping the initial attack by local crews.

East Springfield put on notice to ‘be ready’ to evacuate if necessary

Residents of east Springfield have been told to “be ready” to evacuate as the Holiday Farm Fire marches west down the McKenzie River drainage toward town.

Oregon uses a 3-tiered evacuation notice system: Level 1 Be Ready (Green), Level 2 Get Set (Yellow), and Level 3 GO! (Red).

Lane County on Wednesday put residents of the Thurston area of Springfield on Level 1 Be Ready evacuation status. The county said the notice applies to “all residents from Highway 126 to Bob Straub to Jasper Road east to Thurston Road where it intersects with Highway 126 north to the McKenzie River.”

Fire crews will be working throughout the day and night.

Includes today’s upgrade to Level 3 for another portion of the Mohawk Valley, upgrade to Level 3 for Walterville to Thurston Road, and the new Level 1 for areas near the Bob Straub Parkway and Jasper Road).

Go here for updated evacuation advisories from Lane County Government.

Also see:  http://www.lanecounty.org/mckenziefire

LEVEL 3 GO NOW EVACUATION notice has been issued for everyone from Walterville Elementary east to the McKenzie Ranger Station, including all roads to the north and south of the highway.

LEVEL 3 GO NOW EVACUATION NOTICE for all residents from Walterville Elementary (Highway 126 milepost 15.25) to the intersection of Thurston Road and Highway 126, including Deerhorn Road and all adjoining roads.

LEVEL 3 GO NOW EVACUATION NOTICE has been issued for Upper Camp Creek Road and residents past Wendling Road on either side of Marcola Road.

LEVEL 3 GO NOW EVACUATION NOTICE has been issued for the Mohawk Valley north of the McKenzie River and east of Marcola Road, including Upper Camp Creek and Camp Creek roads.

LEVEL 3 GO NOW EVACUATION NOTICE has been issued for the Mohawk Valley north of Marcola Road and Hill Road.

The UPDATED EVACUATION POINT is SPRINGFIELD HIGH SCHOOL’S SILKE FIELD (the high school is at 875 7th Street and Silke Field is at 866 10th Street, Springfield, OR 97477) for those in Blue River and west of Blue River. The evacuation point is being moved from Thurston High School to Springfield High School.

Those east of Blue River should travel east to the Deschutes County Fairgrounds in Redmond (3800 SE Airport Way).

LEVEL 3 means leave immediately! Do NOT take time to gather things. GO NOW! DO NOT delay leaving your property to gather any belongings or make efforts to protect your home. If you choose to ignore this notice, public safety personnel may not be available to assist you further.

LEVEL 2 BE SET EVACUATION NOTICE for residents from the McKenzie Ranger Station to the junction of Highway 126 and Highway 20 (Santiam Junction).

LEVEL 2 BE SET EVACUATION NOTICE for residents on either side of Marcola Road before Wendling Road, including Camp Creek Road.

LEVEL 2 (BE SET) indicates there is significant danger to your area and residents should either voluntarily relocate to a shelter or with family/friends outside of the affected area. Be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice.

LEVEL 1 BE READY EVACUATION NOTICE for the Fall Creek, Winberry, and Lowell areas north from Hills Creek to Signal Point Boat Ramp.

LEVEL 1 BE READY EVACUATION NOTICE for all residents from Highway 126 to Bob Straub to Jasper Road east to Thurston Road where it intersects with Highway 126 north to the McKenzie River.

LEVEL 1 (GET READY) means be aware of the danger that exists in your area and prepare for possible evacuation.

View of smoke at Autzen Stadium from the Holiday Farm Fire that is burning about 25 miles east of Eugene/Springfield. The UO is maintaining regular operations. Some communities in the McKenzie River corridor are under evacuation orders, but Eugene is not at this time. Update 4pm 9/9/20

COVID-19 has claimed four more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 486, the Oregon Health Authority reported today. 

Oregon Health Authority reported 169 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today bringing the state total to 28,355.

The new cases reported today are in the following counties: Benton (1), Clackamas (17), Crook (1), Deschutes (1), Jackson (17), Jefferson (2), Lane (7), Malheur (4), Marion (25), Morrow (4), Multnomah (39), Polk (4), Umatilla (10), Wasco (1), Washington (25), and Yamhill (11).

10AM Wednesday, 9/9/20 …ODOT on Southwestern Oregon 138E 
(North Umpqua Highway) is closed between Glide and Dry Creek (milepost 17-47) due to fire. Only local traffic and emergency service vehicles will be allowed through. More information on road closures available at www.TripCheck.com.

Whale dies after stranding near Bandon Saturday

Bandon, Ore. — What has been tentatively identified as a 38′ Sei whale became stranded on the Oregon coast south of Bandon Saturday afternoon, September 5. Oregon State Park rangers, the Oregon State Police, Oregon State University, Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network, and representatives of the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network and NOAA Fisheries responded.

While alive when it first came ashore, the Sei whale was stranded by the tide and died Saturday evening. Based on its size, it was a subadult male, meaning it was not yet fully-mature. The necropsy will be led today, Sunday, September 6 by Oregon State University, World Vets, and Sealife Response, Rehabilitation and Research. The necropsy will allow marine mammal biologists to collect samples to try to determine what may have caused the animal to strand. The carcass will be buried on the beach shortly thereafter. It is against federal law to take pieces from a whale carcass.

The Oregon Republican Party’s statement for the state voters’ pamphlet arrived 29 seconds too late and won’t appear in the guide mailed to voters for the November election, officials say.

Laura Fosmire, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Bev Clarno, said deadlines apply equally to everyone. But Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that Kevin Hoar, the communications director for the state GOP, insists the party did get its statement into an online filing system by 4:59 p.m. on Aug. 25, the final day for filing. He said the party filed a lawsuit in Marion County demanding that the statement be included in the voters’ guide before it goes to print later this month. State Republican Chairman Bill Currier said the failure to include his party’s statement from the voting guide “reeks of partisan discrimination.”

Afriend to few lately, weak Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler faces calls to resign from sources as wide-ranging as liberal constituents who once supported him to the nation’s Republican president, who cite what they say is his lack of clear leadership as the city hit 100 days of protests.

Many critics say they’re frustrated that Wheeler, the city’s police commissioner, expresses support for police reforms yet hasn’t come out strongly when officers appear to use excessive force on people during protests. Many others are frustrated he hasn’t done more to end the nightly demonstrations and the property damage, small fires and provocations of police that usually accompany them.

Still others feel he has said more about his disagreements with President Donald Trump than his solutions to aid a city reckoning with a pandemic, a recession, homelessness, unaffordable housing, increased gun violence and other racial and economic inequalities.

On Sunday, at approximately 1:12 P.M., Oregon State Police and emergency personnel responded to a vehicle crash on Hwy 101 near milepost 232.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a Nissan Titan, operated by Renee Reiser (56) of Florence, was northbound when it crossed over the fog line and struck two, also northbound, bicyclists.

Bicyclist Jason Dixon (42) sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.

Bicyclist Robert Hammonds (52) sustained life threatening injuries and was transported to a local hospital.

On Saturday, September 6, 2020 at approximately 8:27 P.M., Oregon State Police and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Hwy 26 near milepost 30.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a Ford F350 pickup was westbound when it drove off the roadway and down an embankment.

The operator and lone occupant sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased. Name will be released when it is appropriate.


On Saturday, September 5, 2020 at approximately 9:40 P.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a two vehicle crash on Hwy 38 near milepost 47.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a Harley Davidson motorcycle, operated by Seth Albert (38) of Eugene,  was westbound when it collided with a Ford F150, operated by Michael Fluharty (57) of Walla Walla, that was turning to go eastbound onto Hwy 38. 

Albert and his passenger, Cherissa Rainwater (35) of Marcola, sustained fatal injuries and were pronounced deceased. Hwy 38 was closed for approximately 3 hours following the crash

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will conduct a virtual tour of a wild horse off-range pasture via Facebook Live on Sept. 21, 2020 starting at 9 a.m. Mountain Time. The purpose of the tour is to allow the public to see and learn more about BLM’s wild horse and burro management mission, including the agency’s responsibility for providing humane care for thousands of animals held in off-range facilities.

The BLM currently cares for approximately 35,000 wild horses on 35 off-range pastures throughout the Central Plains and parts of the West. These are animals that were removed from Western public rangelands as part of BLM’s mission to protect and preserve America’s wild horse and burro herds. The off-range pasture to be featured during this virtual tour – known as the Jameson Ranch near Davis, Oklahoma – is a private ranch under contract with the government to feed and care for up to 200 federally protected wild horses in a natural free-roaming environment.

Two For Two Fire near Chiloquin

The fire is now over 10,000 acres with 5% estimated containment. The dangerous wildfire, pushed by strong winds through dry grass and timber, continue to take up ground near Chilquin, thereatens hundres of homes and ranches in the area west of Highway 97. The Two Four Two Fire is burning everything in it’s path, forest land, dried grass and brushy areas. Highway 97 is still closed near Chiloquin as of Wednesday at 11:00AM.

It’s growth west of Chiloquin yesterday was wind-driven, and similar conditions are expected today due to a Red Flag Warning in effect until midnight for strong gusty winds and low relative humidity.  Today the fire continues to move in all directions.  Multiple structures are threatened.  Fire managers are still assessing structures that may have been lost.

U.S. Highway 97 remains closed between Oregon State Highway 62 south of Chiloquin north to the intersection with Forest Road 9732 at Oux Kanee Overlook.  Oregon State Highway 422 North is closed between Highway 97 and Oregon State Highway 62.  Highway 62 is closed from the junction with Highway 97 north to the State Fish Hatchery.  The Oregon State Police and Oregon Department of Transportation are handling highway road closures.

Kelvin Valentino McDuffie, 34, of Supai, Arizona, was sentenced to eight months in federal prison and one year of supervised release today for assaulting an in-custody defendant in the Hatfield Federal Courthouse in Portland.

According to court documents, on July 26, 2019, Deputy U.S. Marshals escorted McDuffie, an adult female victim, and other male and female inmates into a prisoner elevator inside the federal courthouse. The male and female inmates were separated by a metal chain-link screen and McDuffie was restrained with handcuffs and a belly chain. As the elevator arrived at a floor, McDuffie reached his fingers through the chain-link screen and touched the victim’s inner thigh and buttocks through her clothing with the intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, and degrade the victim and arouse and gratify his own sexual desire.

McDuffie was in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service after being arrested in the District of Oregon for an alleged violation of the supervised release that had been imposed following a conviction for assaulting a federal officer in the District of Arizona. On November 21, 2019, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a two-count indictment charging McDuffie with assault and abusive sexual contact. On April 21, 2020, he pleaded guilty to assault.

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