Klamath Basin News, Thursday, 6/3 – Sycan River Wildfire Holding at 30% Contained at 615 Acres, and Not Growing, Yellow Jacket Fire Is 34 Acres and 30% Contained

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Thursday, June 3, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Sunny, with a high near 91. Light west wind increasing to 6 to 11 mph in the afternoon. Overnight, warm with a low of 56.

Friday Sunny, with a high near 85. Overnight low around 48 degrees.
Saturday Sunny, with a high near 79.
Sunday Sunny, with a high near 76.
Monday Sunny, with a high near 71.

Today’s Headlines

Firefighters are making significant progress on the Sycan River and Yellow Jacket fires in Klamath County near Beatty, according to fire officials.

The Sycan River Fire was 615 acres in size and 10 percent contained. The acreage was determined through improved mapping and the fire has not grown since Monday morning. Approximately 85 percent of the fire is lined.

According to fire managers, firefighters made progress securing the fire’s edge through dozer line and burnout operations. Fire crews continue to secure lines and build handline where needed. Roughly 150 personnel are planned to be on the fire line on Wednesday. Resources on the Sycan River Fire yesterday were shared with the Yellow Jacket Fire response.

The Yellow Jacket Fire, located about four miles south of Beatty, is 34 acres in size and 20 percent contained. The fire was reported Monday around 2:15 p.m. The Yellow Jacket is fully lined and mop-up activities started on Tuesday. On Tuesday night fire crews started removing hazard trees burning in the fire’s interior.

There are numerous state, federal and contract resources working on the fire. Smoke from both fires is visible in the area.

Oregon reports 356 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 2 new deaths

There are two new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,676, the Oregon Health Authority reported today. Oregon Health Authority reported 356 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 201,996.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (5), Benton (8), Clackamas (32), Columbia (2), Crook (5), Curry (4), Deschutes (13), Douglas (16), Grant (7), Harney (11), Hood River (2), Jackson (33), Jefferson (13), Josephine (7), Klamath (8), Lake (1), Lane (26), Lincoln (2), Linn (12), Malheur (8), Marion (40), Multnomah (32), Polk (10), Umatilla (26), Union (2), Wallowa (1), Wasco (1), Washington (25) and Yamhill (4).

Oregon has now administered 2,221,235 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,608,334 first and second doses of Moderna and 144,596 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. As of today, 1,863,888 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 2,247,597 people who have had at least one dose.

Governor Kate Brown’s office released the latest risk levels for Oregon counties on Tuesday, but southern Oregon will not see any change over the next two weeks.

Effective June 4 through June 10, there will be 13 counties in the High Risk level, four at Moderate Risk, and 19 at Lower Risk.

Jackson, Josephine, and Klamath counties all remain at High Risk due to elevated case rates. Since mid-May there have been two paths for a county to move down on the state’s risk level framework — either see sustained reduction in case rates, or achieve vaccination of 65 percent of people 16 and older in the county for a direct movement to Lower Risk.

Thus far, six counties have moved to Lower Risk after reaching the 65 percent vaccination mark. The others in Lower Risk — including Curry and Lake counties — have done so by demonstrating low case rates.

Brown’s office said that risk level changes will now be happening on a weekly basis as case rates continue to decline, though the same criteria for movement apply. The next announcement will be Tuesday, June 8.

The Governor’s office reiterated that all risk level restrictions will be lifted when Oregon’s statewide vaccination rate reaches 70 percent of people 18 and older.

As of Tuesday, Oregon’s overall adult vaccination rate stood at 65.8 percent.

The Klamath County Museum will offer free admission for Klamath County residents on Saturday, June 5, in commemoration of the anniversary of D-Day during World War II.

The museum at 1451 Main St. will be open regular hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, involved about 160,000 American and allied troops landing along a 50-mile stretch of French coastline.

More than 9,000 allied soldiers died on D-Day. The deaths included three men from the Klamath Basin: Walter Buick, Charles Semon and Donald Turner. Because the anniversary date falls on a Sunday, when the museum is closed, free admission is being granted to local residents on Saturday. For more information call the Klamath County Museum at (541) 882-1000.

Around the state of Oregon

An Oregon state representative violated workplace rules against sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment with a series of texts to a fellow lawmaker in April, a House committee has found.

Tuesday evening, the House Conduct Committee found that, contrary to an allegation against him, Rep. Brad Witt did not intend to create a quid pro quo arrangement with Rep. Vikki Breese Iverson in which he would exchange his vote on a bill for a date or sexual favors. Instead, the committee’s conclusions centered around the ambiguity of Witt’s text messages, the fact they could reasonably be perceived as sexual, and testimony from Breese Iverson and others that she was severely shaken by the exchange. The conduct committee did not discuss what an appropriate “remedy” for Witt’s violation would be. It will take up that matter at another hearing.

The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners is removing all assignments from Commissioner Mark Shull after he proposed a resolution that compared vaccine passports to Jim Crow laws.  

Board Chair Tootie Smith said Shull’s proposal was abhorrent and irresponsible.  Shull said he wanted the proposal to spark discussion about vaccine passports, and he didn’t intend it to be racially offensive.   Smith proposed removing Hull’s liaison duties, and the rest of the board members agreed.

Guns coming into the Oregon Capitol building. Some legislators are bringing guns into the Oregon State Capitol for personal protection.

Protesters have carried semi-automatic rifles onto the grounds and into the building. Later this year, doing so will be outlawed under a bill signed Tuesday by Gov. Kate Brown that was earlier passed by the Legislature, with Democrats in favor and minority Republicans opposed. The new law also mandates the safe storage of guns.

Backers of the new law, which takes effect three months after the Legislature adjourns this summer, said it will prevent accidental shootings by children, suicides and mass shootings. It requires that firearms be secured with a trigger or cable lock, in a locked container or gun room.

Oregon lawmakers have passed a bill allowing the sale of cocktails to-go to continue after the COVID-19 pandemic. Senate Bill 317, which allows licensed establishments to sell “mixed drinks and single servings of wine in sealed containers for off-premises consumption,” previously passed the Oregon Senate in March.

It cleared the House Tuesday by a vote of 51-7. The bill now moves to Gov. Kate Brown. As new coronavirus restrictions brought drinking and dining to a standstill across America in March 2020, many states rushed to overturn laws banning takeout cocktail sales, many of which had been on the books since Prohibition.

Sponsored by Sen. Lee Beyer, D-Springfield, and Rep. Rob Nosse. D-Portland, the new bill means Oregon will join around 15 states and the District of Columbia in making cocktails to-go permanent.

Oregon would adopt one of the country’s most ambitious timelines for eliminating carbon dioxide emissions from its power grid under a bill being considered by the Legisltature this year.

House Bill 2021 — a product of negotiations between the state’s largest utilities, environmental justice groups, renewable energy boosters and more — advanced out of one House committee late last month. It must now navigate the state budgeting process before final votes in the House and Senate. The bill sets a timetable by which Oregon’s two major power companies, Portland General Electric and Pacific Power, must eliminate emissions associated with the electricity they provide.

Five “electricity service suppliers” in the state also would face regulation, though their emissions are tiny compared to the big utilities. At least 17 other states and the District of Columbia have already adopted similar goals, according to the Clean Energy States Alliance.

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