Klamath Basin News, Monday, 9/14 – Chiloquin Two Four Two Fire 14,584 Acres and 12% Contained,

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The latest and most comprehensive coverage of local News, Sports, Business, and Community News stories in the Klamath Basin, Southern Oregon and around the state of Oregon from Wynne Broadcasting’s KFLS News/Talk 1450AM / 102.5FM, The Herald & News, and BasinLife.com, and powered by Mick Insurance.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Klamath Basin Weather

Today   Widespread smoke, mainly before 2pm. Mostly cloudy, then becoming sunny late, with a high near 85. Light and variable wind becoming south southwest 6 to 11 mph in the afternoon.  Overnight low of 45.

Tuesday   Areas of smoke. Mostly sunny, with a high near 82.

Wednesday   Patchy smoke. Mostly sunny, with a high near 83.

Thursday   A 20 percent chance of showers after 11am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 79.

Friday   A chance of showers, mainly after 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 68.

Saturday   A slight chance of showers. Sunny, with a high near 72.

Today’s Headlines

COVID-19 has claimed five more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 509.  Oregon Health Authority reported 185 new cases yesterday, bringing the state total to 29,337. Jackson County reported 13 new cases.  No new cases were reported in Klamath County.   Five new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Josephine County, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 178.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases around the state are in Benton (2), Clackamas (9), Curry (1), Deschutes (3), Douglas (1), Gilliam (1), Jackson (13), Jefferson (1), Josephine (5), Lane (8), Lincoln (1), Linn (3), Malheur (26), Marion (27), Morrow (1), Multnomah (38), Polk (6), Umatilla (6), Wasco (1), Washington (33).

The COVID-19 pandemic ushered a new sense of urgency for Klamath County to educate the public on social services, available programming, and safety measures. Today, Cascade Health Alliance (CHA) and the Healthy Klamath Coalition announced that their launch of Healthy Klamath Connect.

Healthy Klamath Connect is an online platform for social services that exists to connect all people in need and the programs that serve them. The web-based platform makes it easy for people facing social needs to find and make referrals to appropriate programs and services for food, shelter, health care, work, financial assistance, and more. Healthy Klamath Connect was created to help people in need find and connect with the vast (but sometimes hard to navigate) social service programs in Klamath County—just enter a local Zip Code and the user will immediately see programs in the area.

Best of all, it’s free. To learn more visit: www.healthyklamathconnect.com

Firefighters slowed the growth of the Two Four Two Fire near Chiloquin over the weekend and Saturday, encircling the blaze with fire line that held over most of the weekend. The fire is at 14,584 acres today and just an estimated 12% contained.

Winds picked up again late yesterday. There are no known injuries or fatalities. Hundreds of residents have since returned to the Oregon Shores, Woodland Park, Rainbow Park areas as well as others in the area of the fire. As of Saturday just 55 homes remained evacuated. Crews were able to save every structure in Rainbow Park and Woodland Park, which Klamath County Emergency Manager Brandon Fowler said was a big accomplishment. Officials are also warning people to stay away from the fire area unless you live there. They are asking that only residents return to keep the streets open for emergency crews and necessary traffic.

With hundreds of people evacuating the Chiloquin area because of the Two Four Two Fire, local organizations are seeking donations to help those who have had to flee their homes.

Here’s a guide of what to give and how to give it: Klamath Freedom Celebration organizers are accepting donations from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Klamath County Fairgrounds. Klamath Food Bank says you can drop off fresh produce and nonperishables at 3231 Maywood Dr., Klamath Falls, between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.  Klamath Falls Gospel Mission is also taking donations.

Drop off nonperishables, clothes, hygiene products and gift cards to local businesses at 1931 Mission Ave., Klamath Falls. Their most needed items include, Jackets, Deodorant (men’s and women’s), Toothpaste, Combs and hairbrushes and Nail clippers. And the Klamath Tribes asks that Drop new clothing, dry packaged food, pet food, water, tents, batteries, flashlights, gas cards, toiletries, blankets, books, stuffed animals etc. at 3949 S 6th St., Klamath Falls between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday  Several other organizations are helping with recovery efforts. 

CHEMULT, Ore. – The Chemult Ranger District office is closed until further notice due to incident management team needs for the Thielsen Fire currently burning on the Umpqua National Forest.

For public and firefighter health and safety, the decision was made to close the Chemult office to anyone not assigned to the incident, including Forest employees and the public.

Visitor information, including maps, permits and Matsutake mushroom season information is available by contacting the Chiloquin Ranger District at 541-783-4001 or the Klamath Ranger District at 541-883-6714.

Hardcopy packets for Matsutake mushroom harvest are available at the Chiloquin Ranger District, 38500 Hwy 97 N in Chiloquin, and at the Klamath Ranger District, 2819 Dahlia St. in Klamath Falls.

Matsutake and personal use firewood permit information can also be found online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/fremont-winema/passes-permits/forestproducts.

For more information on the Fremont-Winema National Forest, visit www.fs.usda.gov/fremont-winema, follow the Forest on Twitter @FremontWinemaNF or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/r6fwnf.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office issued a Level 3 (Go) evacuation notice for the Brattain Fire burning southwest of Paisley on Satuday. The Level 3 “Go” notice was for all residents of Paisley from Red House Lane, south on Highway 31 to Clover Flat Road onto Clover Flat Road to Forest Service Road 3510 (Moss Pass Road).

The Red Cross is establishing an evacuation area at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Lakeview. There will be fire information there as well. For those in the evacuation area, it is anticipated there will be congestion on Highway 31, fire traffic and temporary loss of power. Please use caution leaving the area.

As watermaster of Modoc Point Irrigation District, Ed Combs made the decision to defy Oregon water law and take water from the Williamson to fill irrigation ditches on about 25 percent of the land in the district.

Combs said he did it to prevent the area from being scorched by the fire should it take an unexpected turn south. Fire officials said that was unlikely. With 68 properties spanning roughly 5,000 acres, Modoc Point is the only formal irrigation district in the headwaters of Upper Klamath Lake. For the last several water years, the Klamath Tribes — who retain senior water rights —have made calls for water to keep river and lake levels stable for red band trout. Combs said the district used to receive about 10,500 acre-feet every summer from the Williamson u By filling the ditches with water, irrigation district leaders said they hope to prevent the fire from moving south of Day School Road, should it change direction. Combs said he’s advised ranchers not to water their fields unless they feel in danger of losing their ranches.

Tours exploring World War II sites and railroading history in Klamath County will be offered this month. Places where war-related activities took place will be visited in a Sept. 19 auto tour sponsored by the Klamath County Museum.

Railroads constructed in the early 1900s will be the subject of a Sept. 26 auto tour cosponsored by the museum and the Shaw Historical Library. Space for both tours is limited, and registration is required. Narration for both tours will be communicated via FM radio. Both tours are free, with donations to the museum accepted. Sites in or near Klamath Falls that saw activity during World War II include the Marine Barracks site, military housing sites and Kingsley Field.

The Sept. 19 tour will last about two hours. The railroad history tour slated for Sept. 26 will last about five hours, covering a route from Klamath Falls to Chiloquin and Sprague River. Participants are encouraged to pack a lunch and be prepared for short walks at two locations.

Around the state of Oregon

Sad news from Jackson County over the weekend. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office announced they have confirmed four sets of human remains in the wake of the Almeda Fire.

Earlier in the day at a press conference, the sheriff’s office reported there were five deaths as a result of the fire but later revised that number in an evening press release. Also, the Jackson County Sheriff’s office reports there is still at least one person not accounted for in relation to fire evacuations. Saturday morning, the number was up to 50 missing persons. Detectives are continuing to search for missing persons and other victims of the fire. They say that updates likely won’t be made on their efforts until this afternoon. Evacuation levels have been lowered for much of the county.

State, federal, county and tribal partners are fully engaged in response and recovery efforts for the more than 30 fires burning statewide in Oregon.

With thick smoke limiting aviation resources, firefighters are struggling to contain the fires, the largest of which is more than 55 miles wide. 

More than 1 million acres have burned, leaving thousands of Oregonians displaced from their homes. A total of 3,023 people are currently being supported in shelters run by local counties, the state and the American Red Cross. Shelters are following COVID-19 guidance for group and non-congregate settings to limit spread of the virus. Many evacuated Oregonians are sheltering with friends and family, while others are staying in RVs or vehicles. The American Red Cross has temporary shelters available throughout western Oregon, and those shelters have space available for more evacuees. For a list of temporary shelters, see the Red Cross Oregon website.  

Help donations go where they are needed most
Though well intended, please do not take donations to evacuation centers. Counties have received an influx of donations of materials they are unable to distribute. Unsolicited goods burden local organizations’ ability to meet survivors’ confirmed needs, drawing away valuable volunteer labor, transportation and warehouse space.  

At this time, the best way for the public to help people who are affected by wildfires is to make a financial contribution to the American Red Cross or one of the certified organizations that are members of Oregon Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. These on-the-ground organizations know what items and quantities are needed, often buy in bulk with discounts and, if possible, purchase through businesses local to the disaster, which supports economic recovery.

To donate food, water and other items, reach out to your local food pantry or Community Action Partnership to see if they are able to receive donations. Find food pantries at https://foodfinder.oregonfoodbank.org/.  Community Action Partnership of Oregon: https://caporegon.org/   Phone: 503-316-3951

Help find and reunite loved ones: 
OEM urges the public to update information on their status with the Red Cross. Let loved ones know you are safe at the American Red Cross Safe and Well Website. State emergency managers encourage people affected by the fires, whether or not they have evacuated, to register on the site. It is a helpful tool that can bring relief to people looking for loved ones during these fires, and help inform search efforts. 

Members of the 142nd Wing are deploying in support of efforts to contain and mitigate multiple wildland fires raging across the state of Oregon.   75 Airmen departed Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore. at 0900 today. They will be serving first in Echo Mountain, south of Salem, Ore., then dispersing to wherever they are needed. 

Monday ODOT update for Southwest Oregon

*Almeda Fire area between north Ashland-south Medford:
Oregon 99 is still closed to the public between north Ashland (South Valley View Drive) and south Medford (South Stage Road) for fire operations. This includes the cities of Talent and Phoenix. I-5 Talent Exit 21 remains closed. I-5 Phoenix Exit 24 is closed to the west, but open to the east.

No pedestrians will be allowed to cross I-5 Exit 24 Phoenix.

*Obenchain Fire area: All of Oregon 62 north of Oregon 234 north is closed. This includes the OR 62 north and east from U.S. 97.

*Archie Fire & Diamond Lake area fires: Oregon 138E remains closed from Idleyld east to the junction of U.S. 97.

*Slater Fire in Illinois Valley: U.S. 199 (Redwood Highway) remains closed from the OR/Cal border north to near Cave Junction. (Also closed in California)

Dense Wildfire Smoke Statewide:
With heavy smoke blanketing much of southwest Oregon, ODOT reminds drivers the best thing they can do to stay safe is avoid driving unless absolutely necessary.
Remember to check conditions if you must head out. A number of roads remain closed throughout the state. Go to Tripcheck.com or call 5-1-1 for real time road conditions.
If you encounter heavy smoke while driving here are some steps you can take to help stay safe:
* Slow down and stay alert. Slow driving gives you more time to respond to unexpected conditions.
* Turn on your headlights. Even during daylight hours your headlights will help others on the road see you. Use low-beams as high-beams reflect off the moisture in the air and cause glare.
* Use fog lights. If you have them, fog lights can help cut through the smoke.
* Keep plenty of space between you and other vehicles. Visibility, of course, decreases in smoke so maintain a safe stopping distance between you and the vehicle up front.
* If visibility becomes too dangerous to continue, pull off to the side of the road as soon as safely possible.
* Never stop in a travel lane. Look for a safe area completely off the road if possible and turn off all lights, including flashers, until it’s safe to continue.
* Don’t tailgate. Keep a steady, reliable pace. Remember that everyone else on the road is in the same fix you’re in. They’re counting on you to help show the way.
Do not put yourself at risk by using forest roads to get around fire closure areas.

Congressman Greg Walden toured the destruction caused by the Almeda Fire and the evacuation location at the Jackson County Expo. The congressmen took time to meet with local officials that are responding to the fire and the following investigations as well as the organizers at the Expo to get an idea of what kind of support Southern Oregon need Lawmakers say that aid from FEMA is on its way. The congressmen say they’ve been in contact with the Governor’s office and highlighted the reason an additional declaration might take a few days.

A Southern Oregon man is accused of arson in connection with a fire that has caused major damage to several towns in Jackson County. Michael Jarrod Bakkela, 41, has arrested on two counts of arson, 15 counts of criminal mischief and 14 counts of reckless endangerment. The fire Bakkela set is considered to be one of two origins of the Almeda fire, said Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office spokesman Rich Tyler. The two fires quickly merged, Tyler said. Bakkela was arrested and initially lodged in the Jackson County Jail on Tuesday on a charge of possession of methamphetamine. He remains in jail on the arson and criminal mischief charges.

Klamath Falls News from partnership with the Herald and News, empowering the community.

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