Klamath Basin News, Thursday, 9/24 – DEQ Rates Basin Air Quality Worst in Years This Summer; 5 New Covid Cases in Klamath County Reported This Week

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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Klamath Basin Weather

Today  A 30% chance of showers before 11am. Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 69. Overnight low around 42.

Friday   Patchy smoke before 8am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 72. A 20% chance of rain overnight. Low of 45.

Saturday   Mostly sunny, with a high near 75. West southwest wind around 5 mph.

Sunday   Sunny, with a high near 82.

Monday   Sunny, with a high near 87.

Today’s Headlines

This year’s fire season has brought some of the worst air quality Klamath Falls has experienced in decades. According to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the city set a new record for its air quality index during the week that followed a historic Labor Day windstorm, which fanned blazes from southern Washington to northern California. Since regular air quality measurements began in 1999, the city’s previous record of 254, which lies in the “very unhealthy” range of AQI values, was set on September 3, 2017. On September 12 of this year, the ODEQ air monitoring station at Peterson School recorded an index of 331, in the “hazardous” range. Records were also set that same week in Medford, Bend, Eugene and Portland. The EPA considers AQI above 100 to be unhealthy, and recommends that at-risk populations like children, the elderly and those who are pregnant stay inside. At an AQI of 150 or higher, everyone is recommended to stay home and avoid contact with outside air. Inhaling smoke can inhibit lung function, cause respiratory stress and exacerbate existing conditions like asthma or heart disease. Compound that with the COVID-19 respiratory pandemic, and bad air is even more insidious.

Directional fencing that will help guide deer and other animals to a newly constructed highway underpass beneath Highway 97 in northern Klamath County has been approved by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission. The project is one of eight recently approved by the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the grants earlier this month. The grant for $10,000 was recommended by both the Oregon Hunters Association and the Oregon Department of Transportation. Dr. Karl Wenner, chairperson for the Conservation and Recreation Advisory Committee, said the Gilchrist grant is being supplemented with an additional $60,000 from the Pew Charitable Trust. When combined with money already set aside for the project, the $1 million project will be completed this fall. Wenner said the underpass is already built but explained the grant money will be used to build an 11-mile long fence that will direct animals to the underpass

Through the end of this week from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., the northbound and southbound traffic on Washburn Way will be reduced to one lane in each direction between Edison Avenue and Onyx Avenue. Motorists can expect to be directed to the lanes that are farthest east and farthest west. Flaggers will be present to help guide traffic. This closure is to accommodate a water utility crossing for the new Les Schwab Tire Center.  For additional information please contact Rich at (541) 891-6244.

COVID-19 has claimed six more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 537, the Oregon Health Authority reported yesterday. Oregon Health Authority reported 193 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today bringing the state total to 31,503.

12 new cases were reported in Jackson County, just one new case in the past 24 hours in Klamath County. OHA notes that the week of Sept. 14 through Sept. 20 reported new COVID-19 infections rose 17% from the week prior, to 1,511. The number of Oregonians newly tested rose 8%, to 18,840, and the percentage of tests that were positive rose from 5.6% to 6.2%.

The 19th annual Tulelake Pioneer Day will be at Winema Lodge Saturday, Sept. 26, from 10 a.m. til 2 p.m. There will be coffee and donuts in the morning and a light lunch. Tulelakers, friends and neighbors are welcome. There is plenty of room to social distance, and food safety will be a priority. The event will costs $8. If possible, please RSVP by calling 530-664-3862.

The 19th Annual Rocky Point Fall Festival is coming Sunday, October 18, 2020
Bazaar, Homemade Pie and Specialty Baked Goods Sale, & Quilt Raffle Drawing.

1 – 4 PM
Rocky Point Fire Hall
25600 Rocky Point Road
One mile north of Hwy 140 between Medford and Klamath Falls on Rocky Point Road

Rocky Point Quilt will host its 19th annual Rocky Point Fall Festival, featuring a bazaar, bake sale, and quilt raffle drawing on Sunday, October 18th, 2020, 1:00 – 4:00 PM at the fire hall on Rocky Point Road.  COVID guidelines prohibit us serving our traditional chili meals, but the bake sale will again feature a huge variety of homemade pies, plus cakes, breads, and specialty baked items. The raffle drawing for the queen-sized quilt will be held at 4:00 PM.

The bazaar showcases a wide array of handcrafted decorations, kitchen items, greeting cards, pet treats, children’s items, and seasonal accessories, suitable for home use and gifts.   The all-volunteer group supports a range of community projects.  All proceeds from the quilt raffle go toward a local fire department project.  All other proceeds support community and area causes. Masks are required and all social distancing guidelines will be followed.  For more information, call 541 356-0909.

Brattain Fire Daily Update-September 24, 2020

Today:Fire behavior is expected to remain minimal. Mop up and suppression repair/rehabilitation activities remain a top priority. Haze will be visible from the northwest corner for a couple of more days where there is heavy down and dead fuel loading that continues to burn. Cooler temperatures and higher humidity will help speed up the cooling process inside the fire perimeter.

The incoming local incident management team was briefed last night and takes command Friday morning after spending today shadowing the Eastern Area Incident Management Team. The Eastern Area Incident Management Team wishes to express their appreciation to Lake County, the community of Paisley and all of the cooperators who have served as hosts to the team for this incident.


Evacuations:Area residents should sign up for Lake County Alerts, a mass notification system that provides residents with both emergency and non-emergency notifications.Sign up at https://public.alertsense.com/SignUp/?regionid=1535.
Only one evacuation remains in place at this time. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office has issued the following evacuation notice:


Level 1 (Ready) –Highway 31 from Red House Lane (north of Paisley) north to Forest Road 29, also known as Government Harvey

.
Forest Closure:From Forest Road 29 southeast to Forest Road 3510 and the 28 Road east, all National Forest System lands and facilities are closed per Forest Closure Order 06-02-03-20-03. Forest Road 3315 is closed; the 28 Road is open.

Around the state of Oregon

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management has posted the Oregon Wildfires 2020 daily release to the Oregon Wildfire Resources page. Additional photos are attached. See today’s Wildfire Response and Recovery update here.

The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) has received federal approval to extend the normal 10-day deadline for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients in 20 counties to request replacement of benefits as a result of food lost due to power outages and wildfires that began on Sept. 7. The extension gives SNAP recipients in Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Coos, Deschutes, Douglas, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Tillamook, Wasco, Washington, and Yamhill counties until Oct. 7 to apply to re SNAP recipients do not need to visit an office. They can request replacement food benefits by calling their local office and submitting the required information by email, fax or regular mail. Recipients can use either Form DHS 0349D (Affidavit for Nonreceipt or Destroyed Food Stamp Benefits) or submit a signed and dated written request that includes how the food was destroyed, the date it happened, destroyed food items and the amount paid for each item.

A wildfire relief fund set up by Rogue Credit Union has already raised more than $1 million, the credit union announced on Wednesday — donated in the space of just two weeks. RCU said that donations both large and small have come from a variety of people, businesses, foundations, and other credit unions. As promised, Rogue Credit Union has also matched the first $100,000 in donations. The funds will go toward grants to local non-profits that are working to meet the needs of affected families and communities. Those organizations can apply for wildfire relief grants at roguecu.org/firerelief.

The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services’ Division of Financial Regulation has issued an insurance emergency order for people affected by the state’s wildfires. Insurance companies must immediately take steps to do the following until the order is no longer in effect: Extend all deadlines for policyholders to report claims or submit other communications related to claims, Take all practicable steps to provide opportunities for policyholders to report claims, Establish a grace period for premium payments for all insurance policies issued, delivered, or covering a risk in the affected areas and Suspend cancellations and nonrenewals The order applies to several ZIP codes across the state. If your home or property was damaged by the wildfires, contact your insurance company as soon as possible to discuss your situation and learn next steps. If you still have concerns, the division’s consumer advocates are here to help. Call 888-877-4894 (toll-free) or email dfr.insurancehelp@oregon.gov.

The Oregon Employment Department is announcing the availability of Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) for individuals who became unemployed, had their work hours substantially reduced or are unemployed self-employed individuals as a direct result of the wildfires and straight-line winds that have been taking place since September 7, 2020.

They also must not qualify for regular state unemployment insurance (UI), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), other extension programs, or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is a federal program that provides temporary unemployment assistance benefits to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted or had their work hours greatly reduced as a direct result of a major disaster.  DUA is available to eligible individuals for weeks of unemployment beginning September 13, 2020. Benefits for this disaster will be available until March 20, 2021, as long as your unemployment continues to be a direct result of the major disaster. You must file the application within 30 days after this announcement date. The deadline for filing a DUA claim related to these fires is October 23, 2020. 

In addition to people who lost their jobs as a direct result of the major disaster, DUA may include individuals who:

  • were self-employed and prevented from performing such services as a result of the disaster and the work or self-employment was their primary source of income,
  • were unable to reach their job because of the disaster,
  • were scheduled to and prevented from beginning work or self-employment in the disaster area,
  • were unable to work due to injury as a direct result of the disaster, or
  • became head of household due a death caused by the disaster,
  • Have applied for and used all regular unemployment benefits from any state, or do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits, or extension programs and remain unemployed as a direct result of the disaster.

Unemployment is a direct result of the major disaster if the unemployment resulted from:

  • the physical damage or destruction of the place of employment;
  • the physical inaccessibility of the place of employment due to its closure by the federal, state, or local government in immediate response to the disaster; or
  • lack of work, or loss of revenues, if, prior to the disaster, the employer or self-employed business received at least a majority of its revenue or income from an business in the major disaster area that was damaged or destroyed in the disaster or an entity in the major disaster area closed by the federal, state, or local government.

To receive DUA benefits, all required documentation must be turned in when you file or within 21 days from the day your DUA application is filed. You will need to provide supporting documentation, including but not limited to, proof of employment at the time of the disaster, or proof of self-employment at the time of the disaster, and income information for tax year 2019. Specifically, required documentation includes a Social Security number and a copy of the most recent federal income tax form or check stubs, or documentation to support that  you were working or self-employed when the disaster occurred. Documentation for the self-employed can be obtained from banks or government entities, or affidavits from individuals having knowledge of their business.

Affected individuals are encouraged to apply for DUA through the Oregon Employment Department (OED), which will first check if applicants can qualify for state unemployment benefits, PEUC, other extension programs or PUA benefits.

Applications for DUA are available in English and Spanish online at www.oregon.gov/EMPLOY/Disaster. Your application may be mailed to the address listed below, or submitted online at unemployment.oregon.gov/contact-us. Application packets will be available at certain evacuation sites and WorkSource Centers. Please include the weeks you would like to claim in your initial application. More information is available on our public website and social media pages. For additional questions or to request an initial application, please call: 503-570-5000

On September 23, 2020, at about 5:54 a.m., fire and police personnel were dispatched for a small fire next to a residence in the 2200 block of Crater Lake Avenue. A passer-by saw a small fire on the side of the house and extinguished it with water, while also calling 911.

Medford Fire Department responded and alerted the occupants of the house who did not know who started the fire, which was highly suspicious for arson. Officers and fire eventually cleared the scene. At about 7:51 a.m., officers were dispatched back to the residence for an assault. Officers arrived and found the 61 year old victim had sustained injuries after being attacked by a 25 year old family member, Jeffrey Aaron Moore. The victim reported Moore attacked her with a knife and a hammer, which were consistent with her injuries.

The investigation revealed the victim confronted the suspect for starting the fire, which he admitted to. The suspect then armed himself with a knife and a hammer and attacked the victim.

The victim was transported to the hospital where she was treated and later released.

Officers initially believed the suspect was inside his bedroom, still armed and refusing to coming out. Officers later learned he had fled prior to arrival.Officers eventually located the suspect walking on Cherry Lane, near N. Phoenix Road. He was taken into custody without incident and lodged in jail.

Suspect:

Moore, Jeffrey Aaron

25 years old

Charges:

Assault 1

Assault 2

Attempted Arson 1

Bail: $ 210,000

The clearing of Hawthorne Park in Medford began on Tuesday morning, as Medford Police followed up on a 24-hour notice that campers and homeless would need to leave as residents had no chance to even be in the park as had become so crowded with overnight campers.

At 8 a.m., officers and clean-up crews from Medford Parks arrived to close down the park and clear out those who remained. The agency said that by 11:15 a.m., officers had arrested 11 people for “various reasons,” including trespassing or outstanding warrants. Among those arrested was 32-year-old April Fonseca, a reporter who works for Jefferson Public Radio (JPR) under the name April Ehrlich. The radio station confirmed her arrest on Tuesday, saying that she’d been on the scene since early in the morning to cover Medford Police’s anticipated clearing of the camp. While Fonseca appeared on the Jackson County Jail log as of 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, no charges had yet been added. JPR reported that she is accused of “interfering with a peace officer, 2nd degree trespassing, and resisting arrest.”

Salem, Ore. – September 19, 2020 – FEMA staff working on the Oregon wildfire disaster at the Emergency Coordination Center. – Jeff Markham / FEMA

Civil Air Patrol crews gathered more than 100 photos Tuesday of key infrastructure in Oregon wildfire zones to help determine damage caused by the worst fires in the state in decades.    This was CAP’s sixth day of missions in the wildfire zones. Some planned trips for CAP crews were canceled because other aircraft were in the areas helping fight the wildfires.  

More flights are planned for the near future as Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Oregon Emergency Management (OEM) requests have come in for CAP’s high-resolution photography. That depends on weather, as CAP aerial photography depends on good visibility. Low clouds and smoke inhibit that. Weather forecasts also show the possibility of rain. 

CAP has flown 30 sorties so far in response to the wildfires. More than 20 CAP volunteers have worked organizing, flying and recording activities. In addition, CAP has highly trained emergency services personnel imbedded with the OEM in Salem, responding to requests for air support and advising on other interagency cooperation. 

Acting as a Total Force partner and the U.S. Air Force auxiliary, CAP is aligned with First Air Force to rapidly respond to nonmilitary threats domestically when tasked in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities capacity to save lives, relieve suffering, prevent property damage and provide humanitarian assistance. 

The newly launched Eastern Oregon Community Resource Network (EOCRN) uses technology to connect resources to people and communities in need. Multiple organizations in Baker, Union and Wallowa counties act together through this resource network. Building Healthy Families is the administering organization overseeing this network. The Oregon Department of Human Services has been a coordinating agency helping with its organization and launch. This product has been developed by Galaxux Inc. Galaxux is responsible for hosting and providing ongoing maintenance and support. Requests could be anything from food to clothing to essential household items. Eastern Oregon has higher poverty rates than the state in general; as well as high childhood poverty rates; lack of public transportation and in many areas, there are food deserts, meaning there is a lack of affordable, heathy food nearby. So far, there are 55 members in the network.

Early Wednesday morning, Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Hwy 199 near milepost 16. Preliminary investigation revealed that a Chevrolet Malibu, operated by 18 year old Rianna McGonagle , was southbound when it veered off the road and struck a tree.  McGonagle sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased. OSP was assisted by Rural Metro Fire and the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office.

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

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