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Klamath Basin News, Monday, 9/20 – KCC Building New Apprenticeship Center

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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 Insuranceyour local health and Medicare agents.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

This Afternoon Sunny, with a high near 72. Light winds a low around 43.

Tuesday Sunny, with a high near 83. Northeast wind around 6 mph becoming south southwest in the afternoon.
Wednesday Mostly sunny, with a high near 78. Light and variable wind becoming west 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon.
Thursday Sunny, with a high near 81.
Friday Sunny, with a high near 87
Saturday Sunny, with a high near 85.

Today’s Headlines

Oregon Institute of Technology faculty and staff members were welcomed back Sept. 16 with virtual convocation events, including award presentations and preparation for the start of fall term.

Convocation marks the traditional beginning of the academic year and covers the new measures in place to work toward a safe and healthy academic year as classes begin on Sept. 29.

The ceremony also serves as a proud reminder of faculty and staff’s tremendous depth of knowledge and their commitment to the Oregon Tech community. Employees were presented with awards to honor their exceptional contributions to the University and students. Convocation activities also included health/safety training and additional information regarding the Fall 2021 Return to Campus Plan.

Oregon Tech is planning to resume traditional on-site and in-person activities at all locations for the academic year 2021-2022. The University will require all faculty, students, and staff returning to our campuses in the fall to be immunized against COVID-19 unless they claim an exemption under law or applicable policies.

The Klamath Community College Board of Trustees awarded a contract Monday to Klamath Falls-based Kinsman Construction to build the new KCC Apprenticeship Center.

The company specializes in concrete and metal buildings, with more than 35 years in business. KCC trustees voted to award the contract following a 30-day request for bid process. KCC received three general contractor bids to construct the KCC Apprenticeship Center. Kinsman submitted the lowest acceptable bid.

The Apprenticeship Center will provide space for hands-on training and pre-apprenticeship programs for transitioning high schoolers, increase career-technical program offerings, and offer specialized fire science training that will have a strong emphasis in forest management. The 35,000-square-foot center will span five acres, and include nearly 12,000 square feet of hands-on training space for students enrolled in industrial trades and apprenticeship programs such as electrical, plumbing, millwright, pipefitter, and machinist. The center will also include a fire training academy.

Students enrolled in fire sciences and emergency medical operations programs will have a 3,200-square-foot fire training academy for wildland and structural fire instruction.

Bear Flat Fire Final Update

KENO, Ore. – Firefighters have made great progress on the Bear Flat Fire burning in the Klamath River Canyon, approximately 9 miles southwest of Keno. The fire is 57 acres and 50 percent contained.  The cause is under investigation.

Winds predicted yesterday were lighter than expected, allowing firefighters to make more progress with mop-up and securing fire lines.  Today that work will continue, taking advantage of improved weather conditions.

Rain forecasted to start midafternoon today arrived early, starting this morning over the fire area.  Rain showers are expected to continue today, with up to a half inch of rain possible tonight and more rain through tomorrow.  Warm and dry conditions are expected to return early next week. 

Full containment of the Bear Flat Fire will be determined based on rainfall this weekend and could be as early as the middle of next week.

Due to the great work of firefighters since the fire was reported Monday, increased containment, the change in weather and increased precipitation over the fire area, fire managers will be transitioning the fire to a Type 4 organization and the Lakeview District Bureau of Land Management (BLM) later today.

The South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership (SCOFMP) Type 3 Incident Management Team will transfer command today at 6 p.m.

“We appreciate the public’s patience, understanding and cooperation while we have been fighting the Bear Flat Fire in the Klamath River Canyon,” said Incident Commander Luke Jackson.  “With the weather and fuel conditions this year there was potential for this fire to be much larger.  But thanks to the hard work of air resources, wildland firefighters, partners, and the support of our local community we were able to stop this fire fairly quickly in challenging terrain.”

There are still approximately 120 people assigned to the fire today, including four hand crews, 8 engines, four water tenders and two dozers.  Wildland firefighting resources are expected to start being released from the fire in the coming days.  Area residents and visitors can expect to see increased fire equipment traffic as some resources start leaving the area.  Using caution while driving in the area is encouraged. Smoke will remain visible within the fire perimeter in the coming weeks due to interior burning.

The temporary closures by Lakeview District BLM on Ward Road from Route 66 to Mud Springs Road and Copco/Big Bend Road-entire road south of the Emergency Spillway will remain in place.  The Klamath River is also closed to rafting from the Klamath Dam to the Oregon-California Stateline.  Campgrounds in the Upper Klamath River Canyon on river right are closed and the public is asked to stay out of the canyon area.  The public will be notified when these areas reopen.

Cougar Peak Fire Update –  Monday, September 20, 2021  

Lakeview Ore. – The rain event continued to drop varying amounts of rain over the fire yesterday morning. There was not enough rainfall to thoroughly wet all the drought stricken fuel, as large fuels across the fire area continue to smolder and put up smoke. The higher humidity levels gave firefighters a chance to continue mop-up and direct attack work.  

The rain does bring some issues as well.  Crews are extra cautious driving and snag trees are now falling due to wet ground and fire damaged roots. Fallers and equipment will be cutting snag trees out of roadways and areas crews are working in throughout the day.  

Thanks to the rain and the hard work of the firefighters, Lake County Sheriff’s Office has reduced the evacuation zones. Please see the evacuation information below. 

Today, mop-up continues on the eastern side of the fire, with crews working deeper into the fire area. This work secured containment lines and allowed for an increase in the percentage of containment. Crews will also be patrolling for hot spots and beginning fire repair work across the fire area. 

While the western edge has been tested with the winds the last few days, there are still some areas of concern that crews will continue to monitor and, if needed, aggressively attack any spot fires or hot spots. Firefighters are taking advantage of the current high humidity to secure more containment lines.  

BehaviorAs the lighter fuel models dry out, and temperatures increase throughout the day, the relative humidities will again be dropping into the 20% range. Fire activity will increase with lighter fuels drying, heavy fuels, stump holes, and duff under thick canopy will continue to burn. 

Today’s Operational update, by Operations Section Chief Rod Bonacker, can be found on the “Cougar Peak Fire 2021” Facebook page.  

Acreage: 90,784 
Containment: 42% 
Cause: Undetermined 
E-mail: 2021.cougarpeak@firenet.gov 

Information websites:  
Facebook: “Cougar Peak Fire 2021” 
Inciweb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7835/  
Air Quality: oregonsmoke.blogspot.com 

Resources-12703 – type 1 hand crews5 – type 2 IA hand crews, 27 – type 2 hand crews, 4 – camp crews, 3 – heavy-lift helicopters, 2 – medium-lift helicopters, 2 – light lift helicopter, 47 – engines, 20 – dozers, 32 – water tenders, 2 – masticators, and 10 – skidgines. 

Evacuations: Lake County Sheriff’s Office evacuation levels changed yesterday.  There will still be Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 evacuations in and around the Cougar Peak Fire. For further information please see: 

Lake County website https://www.lakecountyor.org/index.php 

Lake County Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Lake-County-Oregon-104435824529906    and an interactive map: https://tinyurl.com/InteractiveEvacMap 

The deadline for the sale of the Eternal Hills Cemetery has been extended at least until the end of the month, and potentially longer, pending the result of a telephone hearing before a federal bankruptcy court on September 29.

On Wednesday — the previous court-approved deadline for the sale — attorneys representing former owner Robert Gordon’s family trust filed a motion in federal bankruptcy court seeking an extension through November 15, stating that issues with obtaining a title and concerns brought up by the state mortuary board have caused delays.

The Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board, through its attorneys, opposed the extension, noting in another court filing Wednesday that this would be the second such extension in the sale which had an original deadline of August 16, but was extended a month when the trust asked the court.

In June, Judge Thomas Renn ruled that Robert Gordon and his family trust could not own the cemetery, which had fallen into disrepair and bankruptcy under Gordon’s care. On Wednesday, Renn responded to the trust’s motion by extending the deadline to September 30 and by scheduling a telephone hearing for the day prior to hear arguments on whether to extend the deadline to mid-November. In his order, Renn noted that the court’s schedule prevented an earlier hearing.

On Monday, all the pianos downtown are going to disappear for the fall. But don’t worry, some of them will still be available to play.

For the third year in a row, Laty Xayavong and the Klamath Falls Downtown Association (KFDA) placed pianos throughout downtown, jazzing things up with music and local artwork. Xayavong started the Klamath Piano Project in 2019 and it has increased in popularity each year. The pianos are donated by community members and placed around town each spring, then painted by local artists. A couple will still be available for people to play during the fall and winter, however.

The piano in the garden at Nibbley’s Cafe, 2424 Washburn Way, will be placed inside the restaurant where people can sit down and play some Chopsticks while waiting to snag a booth if they so desire. This year there were five new pianos downtown, and local artists spent part of the summer painting them and chatting with people passing by.

At a class on Wednesday inside Mike’s Fieldhouse, over a dozen highschoolers played alongside several other local avid pickleballers — including Cec Amuchestegui, the former superintendent of Klamath Falls City Schools — as the students learned serving and other basics of the game. 

Klamath Falls Pickelball association president Bill Kuerz said the goal is to both give the kids an opportunity to be active but also pick up a game that is growing in popularity and in the number of locations where it can be played locally. There are permanent courts at Steen Sports Park and around the county. A list can be found at kbpickleball.com.

Next week, the association is also hosting a tournament at Henley High School to raise money for Klamath Falls families who have children with cancer. According to the association’s website, the Paddling for Childhood Cancer Tournament begins September 24 at 8 a.m.

The Klamath County Public Works Department will close the BNSF railroad crossing at Harpold Road, between Highway 50 and State Line Road for repairs.

The closure will begin 6 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 20 and is expected to reopen at 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 24.

Flaggers will be on site, and detours will be posted. Motorist should use alternative routes. Visit tripcheck.com for updates.

For additional questions or concerns, contact Ryan Hamilton or Jeremy Morris with Klamath County Public Works at 541-883-4696.

Though it may seem like the Bootleg Fire’s damage has already been done after crews contained the blaze last month, the 647 square mile scar spells trouble for the entire Klamath Basin once the wet season arrives. If actions aren’t taken quickly to protect streams and drainages in the burn area, water quality in Upper Klamath Lake — and the endangered c’waam and koptu that call it home — could suffer.

For decades, suckers have been plagued by excessive phosphorus loading into the lake through its main tributaries — the Sprague, Williamson and Wood rivers. Though the Upper Basin is naturally rich in phosphorus due to its volcanic soils, land use changes and agricultural practices have channelized streams, reduced natural water storage and accelerated riparian erosion, all of which increases the amount of nutrient-carrying sediment flowing into Upper Klamath Lake.

Having passed a natural threshold, the additional phosphorus has given rise to a monoculture of cyanobacterial algae that dominate the lake ecosystem in the summer. Fish biologists say dramatic declines in water quality related to the algae’s bloom-and-crash cycle stress out juvenile c’waam and koptu in the lake, causing almost all of them to succumb to disease and predation by the end of each summer — before they’re able to reach sexual maturity.

Around the state of Oregon

Widespread rain along with lowering temperatures across Southern Oregon has been a welcome sight to many Oregonians and firefighters across the area.

Thanks to that that widespread rain, on Saturday, the Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest District announced that effective Sunday, at 12:01 a.m., the public fire danger level will be decreasing to moderate and the industrial fire precaution level (IFPL) will decrease to one across Jackson and Josephine Counties.

That means that Saturday will be the last day power-driven and/or spark-emitting machinery is completely prohibited. However several restrictions will continue to remain.

There have been at least five cases of Oregonians being hospitalized after misusing the antiparasitic drug ivermectin since the beginning of August as the state continues to see a spike in poisoning cases related to the drug, according to Oregon Health & Science University.

Between August 1 and September 14, the Oregon Poison Center reported 25 cases involving Oregonians intentionally misusing ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19. Five of those cases resulted in hospitalization, and two were so severely ill that they were admitted to an intensive care unit.

Last year, the Oregon Poison Center saw only a handful of cases involving ivermectin misuse, and there were relatively few this year until the summer.

The Oregon Poison Center also serves Alaska and Guam, but officials say that most cases involving ivermectin this year have come from Oregon.

Young person carrying umbrella, wearing a face mask and standing in a puddle.

Industrial Fire Precaution Level lowers to III in South Central Oregon but Fire Danger still Extreme

LAKEVIEW, Ore. – South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership (SCOFMP) is moving to Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) III tomorrow. 

Fire Danger remains “Extreme” and Public Use Restrictions and Regulated Use Closures are still in effect. 

An IFLP Level III is a Partial Shutdown on federal lands, specifically Forest Service and BLM.  Under IFPL III Partial Shutdown, the following are prohibited except as indicated:

  • Cable yarding – Except that gravity operated logging systems employing nonmotorized carriages may operate between 8 p.m. and 1 p.m. When all blocks and moving lines are suspended 10 feet above the ground except the line between the carriage and the chokers.
  • Power saws – except power saws may be used at loading sites and on tractor/skidder operations between the hours of 8 p.m. and 1 p.m. local time.

In addition, the following are permitted to operate between the hours of 8 p.m. and 1 p.m. local time:

  • Tractor, skidder, feller-buncher, forwarder, or shovel logging operations where tractors, skidders, or other equipment with a blade capable of constructing fireline are immediately available to quickly reach and effectively attack a fire start;
  • Mechanized loading or hauling of any product or material;
  • Blasting;
  • Welding or cutting of metal;
  • Any other spark emitting operation not specifically mentioned.

Commercial woodcutters and other members of industry are reminded of their responsibility to stay informed of current IFPLs and all restrictions that apply to activities conducted on public lands. Failure to comply with precautionary fire requirements may result in the issuance of a Violation Notice.

Despite recent rains, fuels are still extremely dry and can carry fire quickly.  Fire restrictions are still in place on federal, state and private wildlands in Klamath and Lake counties.  All open fires, campfires, and charcoal use are prohibited, restricting smoking to enclosed vehicles only, and prohibiting motor vehicle use except on designated roads and trails.

The public is responsible for ensuring that they have reviewed and are aware of the restrictions in place for the landscape they plan to recreate or work on. For all agencies, violation of these prohibitions could result in citations, fines, and even imprisonment, depending on the agency and order.

Fire managers are asking area residents and visitors to remain vigilant and continue to help prevent new wildfire starts by following the latest restrictions.

For more information on the ODF Public Regulated Use Closure, please visit https://www.oregon.gov/odf/fire/pages/restrictions.aspx.

For more information on the federal agency Public Use Restrictions and Fire Prevention Orders, please visit https://scofmp.org/restrictions.shtml.

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