Klamath Basin News, Wednesday, 8/3 – Four Deaths Related to the Burn Zone of the McKinney Wildfire; 56,150 Acres Burned, Over 100 Homes Destroyed, 0% Containment

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Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Isolated showers and thunderstorms after 11am. Widespread haze before 5pm. Patchy smoke after 5pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 92. Light and variable wind becoming west 6 to 11 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 20%. Overnight, widespread with a low around 58.

Thursday Widespread haze before 11am. Sunny, with a high near 93. Light and variable wind becoming west 6 to 11 mph in the afternoon. Overnight, clear with a low around 58.
Friday A 20% chance of showers and thunderstorms after 11am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 93.
Saturday Sunny, with a high near 93.
Sunday Sunny and hot, with a high near 97.

Today’s Headlines

McKinney Fire Update

McKINNEY FIRE & YETI COMPLEX INCIDENT UPDATE
Date: 08/03/2022

Location: Siskiyou County, CA
Size: McKinney 56,165 ; Yeti Complex 2,430
Cause: Under Investigation
Start Date: Friday July 29, 2022 at 2:15pm
Percent Contained: McKinney 0% ; Yeti Complex 0%
Vegetation: Timber (Litter and Understory), Tall Grass, and Brush
Number of Personnel Assigned: McKinney: 1,363; Yeti Complex: 450


Today firefighters and the many crews assigned to the McKinney fire will continue to look for areas on the fires where they can have direct attack opportunities as well as work to place contingency line in areas where direct attack is not possible.

Life, firefighter safety, and property remain the most significant priority to the incident. The combination of moisture and thunderstorms in the forecast are creating an unstable atmosphere which may make firefighting conditions much more hazardous with wind speeds potentially reaching 50 mph during those storms.

Lower temperatures and higher relative humidity, including rain over some areas of the fire, moderated fire behavior allowed firefighters to make good progress on the fire yesterday. In the absence of the explosive fire behavior observed previously, firefighters were able to take a more direct posture and engage directly on the McKinney, China 2, and Alex fires. 

On the McKinney Fire west of Yreka, direct line has been initiated along Humbug Ridge down to Baldy Gap. This area received significant rain Sunday night, and the wet fuels will allow line improvement to continue over the next few days. On the southeast portion of the fire, dozers are working east to open up access to the fireline from Scott Bar. This will allow crews and equipment to have better access to the fire. Crews are also working around structures in that area. Dozers are working the northwest corner while four hotshot crews build direct line on the northern edge.

The China 2 fire has burned up to dozer lines on China Peak as well as to Highway 96. Firefighters will continue to work those lines to hold the fire. Engine crews are prepping structures south of Highway 96.

There was no significant movement on the Alex Fire. Helicopters assisted hand crews on the ground with water drops.

Two more bodies were found within the burn zone of the huge Northern California McKinney wildfire, raising the death toll to four in the state’s largest blaze of the year, authorities said Tuesday.

Search teams discovered the additional bodies Monday at separate residences along State Route 96, one of the only roads in and out of the remote region near the state line with Oregon, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

More than 100 homes, sheds and other buildings have burned in the McKinney Fire since it erupted last Friday. Rain helped firefighters as they worked to control the spread of the fire, but the blaze remained out of control, authorities said.The weekend intensity of Northern California’s McKinney Fire is matched by the speed of now-displaced residents’ evacuations.  Some of that necessary response is leading to unaccounted people.

The Siskiyou County Office of Emergency Services (SCOES) is advising evacuees from the McKinney and China 2 Fires about missing people.

It says evacuations displace people in ways that cause loss of communication with family and friends so, “First try all known phone numbers, emails, and social media to make contact with the person, followed by family and friends. Contact the American Red Cross concerning a missing friend or relative that may be in an evacuation shelter by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).”

SCOES says that after trying all known contacts and shelters, if a person is unaccounted as the result of the McKinney or China 2 Fires and believed missing, then people may contact the Siskiyou County Emergency Operations Center’s Unaccounted Persons line at 530-842-8741, staffed daily by EOC 8am to 5pm.  It asks that reporting parties be prepared to provide information including name, date of birth, address, last known whereabouts etc.

SCOES also is advising people to NOT call 911 for non-emergency information as dispatchers are busy handling emergencies.

This week’s lightning event resulted in approximately 220 lightning strikes across Lake and Klamath counties.  The newest significant blaze locally is located by the Collier Park area, south of Klamath Marsh. The fire is estimated at this time to be about 25 acres, according to the South Central Oregon Fire management partnership.

Also in and around Klamath County, approximately 1,200 acres burning near Windigo Pass. A closure on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and Forest Service (FS) Road 60 is underway. The fire is actively burning in timber near Windigo Pass off Forest Service Road 60 on the Douglas and Klamath county divide.

 The lightning-caused Tolo Mountain Fire is estimated at 41 acres and is currently 50% contained. The Tolo Mountain Fire is burning just between Crescent Lake and Diamond Lake, about three miles north of Cappy Mountain and six miles west of Two Rivers subdivision. It’s about three miles from the Pacific Crest Trail. Firefighters are continuing to monitor and mop up the spot fires that continue to pop up. 

 As the McKinney Fire continues to explode across the Klamath National Forest, search and rescue crews are racing across Siskiyou County to get residents to safety.

But with crews spread so thin across the county, hikers along the Pacific Crest Trail near the Oregon/California border, needed help getting out of the area. 

According to Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, search and rescue crews from their department were called in to help get those hikers out to safety.

Sgt. Shawn Richards with Jackson County Search & Rescue has informed reporters that at least 60 hikers have been rescued so far. He also informed that although the hikers were in no immediate danger, with the McKinney Fire spreading rapidly, and smoke in the area reducing visibility levels to about 20 feet, it was best to rescue those hikers and get them to safety.

According to Sgt. Richards, search and rescue crews have been transporting the hikers  to the Seattle Bar, where Rogue Valley Transportation buses are waiting to take them to safety away from the fire. 

A separate  fire on the Klamath-Douglas county line is getting firefighting attention today.

The Umpqua National Forest Office says suppression efforts are underway for the Windigo Fire.  It started yesterday afternoon in the Windigo Pass area off Forest Service (FS) Road 60 on the Klamath-Douglas county line. Ground and aviation resources responded to the fire actively burning in timber.

The Umpqua National Forest Office says the fire remained active overnight and is now estimated more than 100 acres.  It says today’s firefighting efforts focus on identifying and establishing primary containment line as part of the full suppression response to the fire.

It says firefighters also are responding to several reports of additional fires on the Forest including the smaller Forebay Fire, just north of the Lemolo 1 Forebay as, “Response capacity remains high with multiple resources staged and ready to engage with any new starts. Light to moderate smoke effects are anticipated near the Windigo Fire, and a red flag warning is in effect for a significant part of eastern and southern Oregon due to scattered thunderstorms and fire weather, including portions of the Umpqua National Forest.

A closure for public safety is currently underway for a section of the Pacific Crest Trail (#2000) in the vicinity of the fire. Visitors are asked to avoid the general area, including FS Road 60, due to increased fire traffic.

The downtown Klamath County Library’s annual Outdoor Street fair returns AT 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3. The library staff will be blocking off South Third Street in front of the library for a spectacular festival.

Check out a demonstration from the Klamath Beekeepers Association, play in a bouncy house, get your face painted, get your picture taken with a Klamath Fire District fire truck and much more. 

After the fair winds down, the library is hosting an outdoor picnic lunch on the grass outside the Klamath County Courthouse, provided by Integral Youth Services.

With a high probability of more thunderstorms in the forecast, fire officials remind residents that positive lightning is particularly dangerous. It originates at the top of a thunderstorm, where cloud tops are positively charged and can strike as many as 25 miles away from its parent thunderstorm, where the ground is negatively charged.

On the other hand, negative lightning originates from the lower-level clouds in a thunderstorm, which are negatively charged, and the bolts often strike directly under the thunderstorm where the ground is positively charged. Negative lightning takes a much shorter path to the ground than positive lightning and often strikes in or near the thunderstorm’s rain shaft.

Because positive lightning must traverse a much greater distance through the air than negative lightning, it tends to be about five times more powerful. It can have more than double the volts and ten times the amps of negative lightning. The bolts are also hotter and can last ten times longer than negative lightning.

To avoid the dangers of positive lightning, don’t start or restart outdoor activities when the rain from a thunderstorm ends. It’s best to wait 30 to 45 minutes after the storm passes, and when you can no longer hear thunder.

Around the state of Oregon

Marijuana Search Warrants Served – Josephine Co. Sheriff’s Office 

On August 1, 2022 and August 2, 2022, the Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team (JMET) with the assistance of Rogue Area Drug Enforcement (RADE) and Josephine County Code Enforcement executed four separate search warrants in the 12,000 block of Williams Highway, 1500 block of Three Pines Road, 4000 block of Redwood Avenue and 300 block of South Livingston Way regarding illegal marijuana grow sites.

During the execution of the warrants, more than 12,000 growing marijuana plants and over 10,000 pounds of processed marijuana was seized and destroyed. In addition to the marijuana plants and processed marijuana, multiple firearms and over $400,000 in cash was seized. All of the properties involved had multiple water and electrical code violations. These violations could result in the civil forfeiture of the properties. 

Jesus Alcazar-Varelas, Christopher James Clark, and Blu Shayne McFadden were taken into custody and lodged at the Josephine County Jail for Unlawful Manufacturing of Marijuana, Unlawful Possession of Marijuana, and Unlawful Delivery of Marijuana.

At the time of this press release the investigation is ongoing and no further details are being released.

Oregon State Police SW Region Drug Enforcement Team Makes Illegal Marijuana Bust- Josephine County

On August 2, 2022, the Oregon State Police Southwest Region Drug Enforcement team served an illegal marijuana search warrant in the 1500 block of Lone Mountain Road, O’Brien, Josephine County.  

As a result, 1,773 illegal marijuana plants in seven large greenhouses and approximately 1,000 pounds of processed marijuana bud packaged for sale on the black market were located, seized, and destroyed.  A semi-automatic firearm was also seized while one adult male was detained, identified, and interviewed.

Additionally, the property is subject to multiple code violations through Josephine County Code Enforcement for solid waste, unpermitted structures (greenhouses), and unpermitted electrical installations (significant fire hazard).  Josephine County will move forward with enforcement action against the property owner which could result in the property’s closure for one calendar year (illegal drug cultivation) and possible civil forfeiture.

The investigation is ongoing and no further information is available at this time. 

We want to keep you informed about COVID-19 in Oregon. Data are provisional and change frequently. For more information, including COVID-19 data by county, visit our dashboard: http://ow.ly/bhN150Ka4mZ

Screen shot of linked dashboard shows cases, hospitalizations, test positivity and vaccinations have plateaued. Please visit healthoregon.org/coronavirus for more.
An image showing a graphic of a COVID test, the question "Are false negative COVID-19 results common?", and the answer that false positives are extremely rare, but false negatives are common. To find a COVID-19 test near you, visit getvaccinated.oregon.gov or call 211.

COVID-19 tests are extremely reliable when they give a positive result, but a negative result can’t always be trusted.Unfortunately, sometimes COVID-19 tests can show a negative result even when someone is infected with the virus.

There are two main reasons for false negatives: either the test was done incorrectly, or the person might not be shedding the virus in their nose.

Our recommendation: Because the virus is spreading so widely, if you have symptoms but have tested negative, you should still take precautions—stay home if you can, wear a mask and avoid individuals at high-risk for severe illness. Learn more about the science of false negatives: http://ow.ly/93QM50K7Je1

The annual Siskiyou Golden Fair has been cancelled because of the state of emergency related to the Mckinney Fire burning in Siskiyou County. This is the second time in three years the fair has been cancelled due to a state of emergency.

The 10th DAA Board of Directors and the 10th DAA non profit Junior Livestock Auction Committee are working on a plan to support our junior livestock market animal exhibitors with a show and sale schedule that is being developed at this time. Officials are working on refunding all online ticket purchases in the coming weeks.

The fair was set to begin next week.

California’s Attorney General is warning vendors against price gouging around the McKinney Fire.

Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a consumer alert following California Governor Gavin Newsom’s declaration of a state of emergency in Siskiyou County due to McKinney and other fires.  They have destroyed homes, threatened infrastructure and forced the evacuation of thousands of residents.

In his alert Bonta reminds Californians price gouging during a state of emergency is illegal.  Violators can get up to a year in jail and up to a $10,000 fine. 

California law generally limits price increases to 10% of the price of an item before a state or local declaration of emergency.  Bonta’s office says for items a seller only began selling after an emergency declaration, the law generally prohibits charging a price that exceeds the seller’s cost of the item by more than 50%.

The Attorney General and local district attorneys can enforce the statute, and Bonta invites price gouging victims to report it to his office at oag.ca.gov/report or to local authorities.

Gas prices have dropped 48 cents per gallon in Oregon since hitting record highs in June.

Still, fuel prices are up 36% from a year ago, according to the latest numbers from AAA.

The average price of gasoline stands at $5.07 per gallon according to AAA as of Monday, Aug. 1. That is down from the record $5.55 per gallon set June 15 — but up from $3.73 per gallon a year ago.

Another prime tracker of fuel prices, GasBuddy.com, pegs Oregon’s average gas price at $5.05 per gallon down 42 cents from a months ago but $1.34 per gallon higher than a year ago.

Commuters, travelers and transportation related businesses still face higher gas prices compared to previous years.

The price of gas Aug. 1, 2020, averaged $2.62 per gallon in Oregon and $2.18 per gallon nationally during the early depths of the coronavirus pandemic, according to GasBuddy. The average price of gas nationally sits at $4.21 per gallon, according to AAA. That’s down from a record $5.02 gallon set in June but up from $3.17 a year ago.

Oregon authorities are investigating four additional deaths potentially linked to last week’s scorching heat wave, bringing the total number of suspected hyperthermia deaths to 15.

The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office said Monday the designation of heat-related death is preliminary and requires further investigation.

Multnomah County, which is home to Portland, recorded seven deaths suspected to be related to heat, the highest of any Oregon county. Portland and Seattle set records Sunday for most consecutive days of high temperatures.

In Portland, temperatures Sunday rose above 95 degrees Fahrenheit for the seventh day in a row, a record for the city for consecutive days above that mark. Further north in Seattle, the temperature rose to 91 F by early afternoon, marking a record six days above 90 F.

Temperatures neared the triple digits nearly all of last week in the Portland area, prompting officials to open emergency overnight shelters and cooling stations.

The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for both the Portland and Seattle regions lasting through late Sunday evening. Temperatures started to cool off Monday as colder air from the Pacific began blowing in.

-The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife wants to get more people outdoors.

They’ll soon open their grant cycle to non-profits with projects that fit that mission.

The Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund (OCRF) grant application offers up to $50,000 to eligible projects that connect people to the outdoors and support the Oregon Conservation Strategy which aims to protect fish and wildlife throughout the state.

The grant cycle begins August 12 and runs through October 17. Since forming in 2020, OCRF has funded 90 projects.

Applicants should visit ODFW’s website on August 12 when the application goes live.

Oregon had more than 106,000 vacant jobs last spring but counted just 78,000 unemployed workers.

It’s the third consecutive quarter that there were more job openings than job seekers, and the gap is widening. That suggests the hiring squeeze that has plagued Oregon employers for well over a year isn’t easing up.

Nearly a quarter of the state’s job openings are in the hospitality sector, according to new data out this month from the Oregon Employment Department. Bars, restaurants and hotels have struggled to replace the workers laid off early in the pandemic, many of whom found other jobs while their former employers were closed by government mandate to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Oregon PUC Approves Income-Qualified Utility Discount for Avista Customers

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved Avista’s program to offer income-qualifying residential customers an ongoing discount to their monthly bills. To qualify, customers must be at or below 60 percent of the state median income (SMI) level. 

House Bill 2475, passed during Oregon’s 2021 Legislative Session, gave the PUC authority to consider the financial burden of energy costs when making decisions about rates, bill credits, and program discounts for customers of investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities. This bill, known as the Energy Affordability Act, allows the PUC to consider equity in the ratemaking process to make energy more affordable for all Oregonians. 

“Historically, income was not considered in energy rates,” said Megan Decker, PUC Chair. ”This program will help provide relief to families who typically pay a higher percentage of their income to cover the cost of necessary utility services. We appreciate the collaboration among Avista, many organizations representing customers, and PUC Staff to deliver a strong program and significant discount.”

The monthly bill discounts are calculated as a percentage of the bill and are offered at four levels based on total household income when compared to the SMI level. View the current Oregon SMI energy assistance eligibility matrix to determine eligible discount level. Additionally as part of this program, Avista is providing assistance for customers between 60 and 80 percent of the SMI level who are experiencing a hardship and need temporary assistance with their natural gas bill. 

The Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Campaign Encourages People To Think About How Alcohol Consumption Impacts Their Lives And Communities

 Excessive alcohol use is the third leading cause of preventable deaths in Oregon. More than 2,000 Oregonians die each year from excessive alcohol use, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

Now OHA is asking you to “Rethink the Drink” in a new public health campaign to raise alcohol consumption awareness.

While drinking is a part of our culture and celebrations, it can also have a negative impact. From the loss of productivity to healthcare and motor vehicle crashes, alcohol use cost the state about $4.8 billion dollars in 2019, according to one report That is about $1,100 a year for every person in the state.

“Alcohol affects all of us, even those of us who don’t drink, because of the impact on our society and the costs,” said Dr. Tom Jeanne with the Oregon Health Authority.

Rethink the Drink asks people to consider the role alcohol plays in their lives and community. Dr. Jeanne said that this does not mean everyone must completely stop drinking alcohol altogether; rather that they should take time to understand the impact and adjust their lifestyle accordingly.

“I think understanding what the latest science says is excessive drinking is important for us to all be aware of,” he said.

In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Oregon saw a 21% increase in death directly attributed to alcohol compared to the year before. While we’ve seen an increase in excessive drinking during the pandemic, Dr. Jeanne said that it has been a growing trend nationwide and here in Oregon over the past few decades.

More than one in five people in Oregon drink excessively, according to OHA. It’s not just a problem for young people — those in their 30s and 40s binge drink at nearly the same rates as people in their 20s.

“Over time alcohol wreaks havoc on the body; increases blood pressure, affects many organs; in which the liver is the worst,” said Dr. James Polo, executive medical director for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon. “Alcohol also increases your risk for many cancers. So, over time alcohol can be very damaging to the body.”

Elevated health risks include prostate, breast, colon, and other cancers; cardiac conditions; depression; anxiety and memory loss; and three types of liver disease.

“There are two types of drinking that we worry about — binge drinking, when people just drink a lot of alcohol in a very short period of time, or people who have heavy use and over time they’re drinking more and more and more,” Polo said.

So, what is considered “heavy” drinking?

For a cisgender man, it is 15 drinks or more per week. For a cisgender woman, it’s eight drinks or more a week.

Binge drinking is when a man has five or more standard drinks in a couple of hours. For a woman, it’s four or more drinks.

“Understanding that is key — but also, just thinking about if you’re drinking more than you think you would like to drink and understanding, maybe, some of the impacts it’s having on your life,” Jeanne said.

If you think you might have a problem with alcohol there are resources available at any time. In a crisis, the 988 mental health crisis line is always there via phone call or text.

For less urgent help, Dr. Polo said to start with your primary care doctor.

“Be honest, because there might be some other health considerations to look at – at the same time most doctors will be able to readily encourage individuals, explain concerns about what overuse might be, and then also provide resources,” he said.

Remember to look out for the people in your life. Dr. Polo said to speak up if you notice someone may be struggling.

“You have to approach folks with facts, offer what you’re observing, no judgment, tell them why you’re concerned, show them that you care,” he said.

“I think it’s trying to raise awareness and it’s also important to note, we’re not telling people to stop drinking. We’re just asking that they pause for a moment and think about the way alcohol is prevalent in their own lives,” Dr. Jeanne said.

Back to the BasinLife.com

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