Klamath Basin News, Friday, Aug 18 – Temp 92 Today, 93 Saturday; Unhealthy Air Conditions Persist as Wildfires Cover the State of Oregon

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 and News, and BasinLife.com, and powered by Mick Insurance, your Local Health and Medicare agents. Call 541-882-6476.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Klamath Basin Weather

AIR QUALITY ALERT TODAY

Today
A slight chance of showers between 11am and 2pm with widespread smoke continuing today, otherwise partly sunny with a high near 92 degrees. Winds will be 5-15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%. Overnight,  slight chance of showers but mostly clear, with a low around 59. Northwest winds 10 to 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Saturday
A 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms after 11am. Hazy skies, sunny, high near 93.  Overnight, 30% chance of showers and thundershowers, low around 60.
Sunday
A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 11am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 88.
Monday
A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 82.

Today’s Headlines

See our Extreme Heat Awareness, Resources, Community Preparedness Page, From Klamath County Health Dept and Oregon Health Authority. CLICK HERE:

 

 

 

Rural areas near California’s border with Oregon were under evacuation orders Wednesday after gusty winds from a thunderstorm sent a lightning-sparked wildfire racing through national forest lands, authorities said.

The blaze in Siskiyou County, dubbed the Head Fire, was one of at least 20 fires — most of them tiny — that erupted in the Klamath National Forest as thunderstorms brought lightning and downdrafts that drove the flames through timber and rural lands.

An overflight late Tuesday measured the fire at 4.2 square miles, slightly smaller than initial estimates after it grew rapidly in just a few hours. A forest statement said fire behavior also decreased during the night.

Firefighters were working to protect homes near the confluence of the Scott and Klamath Rivers, a very lightly populated area about 20 miles from the California-Oregon state line and about 50 miles northwest of Mt. Shasta.

There weren’t any immediate reports of injuries or homes burned Tuesday night. However, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office issued evacuation orders for several areas, including one south of Hamburg, a riverside community of around 100 people. Additional areas were warned to be ready to evacuate.

State Route 96 was also closed, along with a section of the Pacific Crest Trail north to the Oregon border. Smith said there were dozens and possibly hundreds of hikers on the trail.

The Head Fire was burning near the site of the McKinney Fire, which began on July 29 of last year. That fire started in the Klamath National Forest and exploded in size when a thunderstorm created winds up to 50 mph. It reduced much of Klamath River, a scenic community of about 200 people, to ash and killed four people, including two who may have been trying to flee the flames. Their bodies were found inside a charred vehicle in the driveway of a home.

Forecasters said weather would continue to be hot and dry but with instability caused by moist air being pulled into the region, bringing the threat of afternoon and evening dry thunderstorms with strong outflow winds. That pattern was expected to break down on Thursday, with cooler and calmer weather entering the weekend.

HERE IS THE KLAMATH NATIONAL FOREST UPDATE AT 8:45AM, FRIDAY, 8/18/2023

Yreka, Calif.—Type 1 California Interagency Incident Management Team 5 (Mueller) assumed command of the Happy Camp Complex, which includes the Head Fire, as of 6:00 a.m. today, and additional ground and air resources have been ordered to support the complex.

Currently, the Head Fire is approximately 4,000 acres and is 0% contained. These fires are being managed in an aggressive full suppression strategy.

Evacuations Orders and Warnings remained in place today and Highway 96 remains closed in the area of the fire. An inversion has pushed smoke down into communities. Air resource advisors have been ordered. Later this afternoon, fire behavior increased on several fires. Crews will be working throughout the night. Structure protection for Scott Bar, Hamburg, and Horse Creek remain a top priority.

A Red Flag Warning remains in effect for abundant lightning on dry fuels. The chance of lightning is expected to continue through the week, although predictions are for storms to trend wetter into the weekend.

“I’m incredibly grateful to Team 5 and the firefighters who have come from all over the West as well as those from here in Siskiyou County who support us. We are confident that working together we will catch these fires,” said Forest Supervisor Rachel Smith. 

*Please obey any evacuation Orders and Warnings that have been issued*

Klamath National Forest Lightning Fire Update

Happy Camp/Oak Knoll District:

  • The Canyon and Three Creeks (formerly Aubrey) fires are in the vicinity of the Elliott Fire and are estimated to total 300+ acres in size and will likely grow together. Elliott Fire resources and the IC are including these fires in their suppression management as one tactical operation. Resources continue to work on structure prep and hold the south side of the fire near Hwy 96. Please reduce speeds and watch for firefighters and equipment along the road.
  • The Malone Fire up Elk Creek is 30 acres. Engines, hand crews, and dozers are committed and making good progress constructing line around the fire, although fire behavior increased late this afternoon.
  • The Titus Fire is in the Marble Mountain Wilderness south of Norcross Campground. It was last reported at 15 acres. It received significant rain which moderated fire behavior. It is within the 2021 McCash Fire footprint with numerous snags in steep country. It will be monitored by air to evaluate suppression needs.
  • The Berry Fire is .2 acres near Huckleberry Mountain.
  • The Indy Fire is up Independence Creek near the border of the Marble Mountain Wilderness.
  • The Ufish Fire is roughly 200 acres and located between Titus and Ufish creeks. It is currently unstaffed.
  • The Devils Fire is about 2.5 acres and located near Seiad Low Gap. Fireline is complete around the fire and crews have made good progress mopping up.
  • The Doe Fire, a new firelocated near Doe Peak, is staffed with engines and crews and is 50% contained.
  • The Swillup Fire between Pony Peak and Bear Peak roads is .1 acres and contained.
  • The Brown Fire is .1 acres and contained.
  • The Dutch Fire is .1 acres and is contained.
  • The Intersection Fire is .1 acres and is contained.

Salmon/Scott River Ranger District:

  • The Scott Fire is roughly 42 acres and is located near the Scott Bar Lookout. Engines, hotshot crews, and heavy equipment are committed to the fire and remain engaged in line construction.
  • The Gold Fire is approximately 62 acres and across the drainage from the Scott Fire. It is burning in very steep, inaccessible terrain.
  • The Shadow Fire is about 2 acres in the Marble Mountain Wilderness near Sky High Lakes. Firefighters constructed fireline around the fire during the day and it is now 75% contained.
  • The Lake Fire is near the Shadow Fire and has grown to about 80 acres; resources are on order.
  • The Townsend Fire is roughly 67 acres with difficult access up Townsend Gulch off of the Lake Mountain Lookout Road. Crews are making good progress and continuing line construction and have line around half of the fire.
  • The Block Fire (formerly called the Middle Fire) is ½ acre near the Townsend Fire. Fireline has been completed around the fire.
  • The Boulder Fire is .1 acres near Indian Scotty Campground and is contained.
  • The Hossick Fire is .1 acres up Hossick Gulch near Scott Bar and is contained.

An emerging fire, the Den Fire, north of the community of Horse Creek, was reported earlier this evening. It is estimated to be over 100 acres and was burning downhill. Firefighters from nearby incidents were on scene quickly and are aggressively suppressing the fire.

Evacuation Orders and Warnings remain in effect. Monitor CodeRED and the @SiskiyouCountySheriff for current information.

Closures: 

Pacific Crest Trail is closed from Etna Summit to the Oregon Border. Hikers and all backpackers are asked to stay off the trail in that area.

Dillon Creek Campground is closed due to proximity to the Elliott Creek Fire.

Highway 96 and the Scott River Road have hard closures.

 

City of Klamath Falls streets Division crews will be performing work next week, August 21st through August 25th during the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. as follows:

Asphalt Crews will be performing asphalt repairs at the following locations: 8/21 – 8/24 Flushing and sweeping the streets between California Ave., Upham St. and Lincoln St. Paint Crew 8/22 – 8/23 Eberlein Ave. and Avalon St. between Washburn Way and Shasta Way, S. 7th Street and S. 8th Street around Eagle Ridge High School. 8/24 – 8/25 East Main St. between Main St. and S 6th Street Sign

Maintenance and Sweeping will be performed 8/21 – 8/25 throughout the City as needed. Detours and signage will be in place where needed. Streets Work may be delayed or canceled due to weather, equipment breakdown or unexpected emergencies. If you would like more information about this topic, please call the City Public Works Department at (541) 883-5385. (city press release)

 

How about those downtown Klamath Falls traffic lights on Main Street?

An online poll by the Herald and News is asking just that.  As of yesterday afternoon, 85% of those that responded said they should return them to how they were, with green, yellow, and red stoplights.

The survey shows that 10% of people polled say “take out all lights and put in stop signs at every intersection”.

Only 5.3% say they should leave it the way it currently is.

The current configuration has been there since June.  So far,, traffic along Main Street, Klamath Avenue and Pine Street has decreased appreciably. Citizens have expressed concerns and entered complaints regularly at city council meetings since the traffic test began. 

Main Street Jewelers is in the process of collecting signatures from residents to put a stop to the project. The business has filled nearly all allotted spaces for signatures on the petition provided by city staff.

Go to heraldandnews.com to voice your vote.  (herald and news/local sources)

 

The October 14 Annular Eclipse will be a sight to behold in Klamath County and the surrounding area. Klamath County will be one of the best viewing sights for the ring of fire appearing behind the darkened moon. The peak of the eclipse will be 9:15 a.m. and the eclipse will last for four minutes 24 seconds.

Klamath County Commissioner Dave Henslee says we learned a lot from the 2017 total eclipse Even though Klamath was not the best viewing location, we were on the path to the best location. We experienced a shortage of gas and diesel, but we are working to be better prepared in October.

Henslee went on say that two events in the community will draw thousands of people. We will see an economic boost from those going to the Running Y’s celebration and the Eclipse Fest in Fort Klamath, and according to Henslee, projected attendance of both is 10,000.

This will bring extra traffic to the area and greater demands on cell towers, other technology and first responders.

He says the county asks that you please be patient and kind to our guests and be prepared ahead of October 14. In addition to the fuel shortage in 2017, Klamath also ran out of bottled water.

He went on to encourage local residents to:

  • Stock up on staples, such as food, medication and toilet paper, ahead of October 14.
  • Fill your gas tank early in the week of October 14.
  • Be prepared to pay with cash the weekend of the eclipse, as the extra use of cell towers and other technology may slow credit and debit purchases. The worst case scenario is payment systems may fail with extra use.
  • Enjoy the experience, but be prepared for extra traffic.

Information updates about eclipse preparedness can be found at the Klamath Eclipse 2023 Facebook page.(klamath county press release)

 

Two recent Klamath Falls high school seniors were awarded $1,000 scholarships to continue their academic pursuits by the Linkville Kiwanis.

Henley’s Elliana Bocchi and Crosspoint Christian’s Nicholas Morene were presented their awards at school assemblies by representatives from the club.

Bocchi is headed to the University of Florida and plans to study political science and business management with the goal of working for a nonprofit organization like UNICEF.

She was president of the Henley KEY Club for three years.

Morene plans to study political science and digital cinema at Southern Oregon University, with the hopes to be a writer, speaker and cinematographer.

He was vice president of his school’s KEY Club.

Bocchi received her award from Mike Handsaker, Sandy Handsaker, Bocchi, Marianne Bosuizen, Jeff Mueller and Nancy Mueller. Morene was presented his award from Valeree Lane and Tammy Belau.

Among the key efforts of the Linkville Kiwanis is working with the Klamath Dog Fanciers annual dog shot, usually over the Mother’s Day weekend, as well as the local home show and Third Thursday. (herald and news)

 

Few tickets remain for the Boots for Books Bash, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, at Spring Lake Ranch.

The event to promote smart reading is scheduled for 4:30-10 p.m.

A flyer invites “cowpokes and smart reading pard’ners” to “pull on yer boots and mosey on over to the ranch for great grub, dancin’, romancin’ swell tunes, friends and fun fellowship.”

Tickets are $50 person, $100 per couple and $400 for a table of eight.

Dr. Rick Bailey, the president of Southern Oregon University, is the featured speaker for short program.

Musical entertainment will feature FatSexy and Dana Wirth.

For more information, contact Holly Stork at (541) 281-4577. (herald and news)

 

The Ella Redkey Pool will be hosting Summer Splash 2023 tonight, Friday night.

This event is sponsored by the Friends of Ella Redkey Pool and includes free admission to the first 100 people ($5 per person, $20 per family up to 6 people after), family friendly music, and a raffle with 18 different baskets to choose from.

The Summer Splash will begin at 7:00 p.m. and the fun will continue until 10:00 p.m. with the raffle beginning at 8:00 p.m. All proceeds raised by this event will be applied to future projects and equipment at the pool. Tickets are available for purchase at the Ella Redkey Pool during normal hours of operation. Must be 18 years old or older to purchase a ticket, and winners do not have to be present at the drawing. Tickets are $5 each or $20 for 5 tickets. Tickets can be purchased up to the drawing time. For inquiries call (541) 273-1477. (city of KF press release)

 

Around the state of Oregon

Oregon gas prices have hit their highest levels since last October. [ thanks to President Biden’s energy policies. -Editor]

Triple-A Auto Club reports rising crude oil prices are causing gas prices to rise again. Crude oil is up 9% over the last month into the upper $70s and low $80s per barrel.

The national average gained four cents to $3.86 a gallon. Oregon’s average is up to $4.69 a gallon.

Klamath Falls is averaging $4.49 a gallon for regular gas. Medford has the highest prices at $4.80 a gallon. Diesel fuel in Oregon jumped 15 cents to $4.76. The national average for diesel is $4.33. (oregon news)

 

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek held a ceremonial photo-op in Salem earlier this week, to mark signing two health care bills.

HB 2002 became highly controversial and led to Senate Republicans in the Oregon Legislature walking out for days. It protects patients from lawsuits by other states that have banned abortions and it requires Medicaid and insurance companies to cover gender-affirming care.

HB 2697 creates a minimum nurse-to-patient staffing ratio and establishes committees for hospital care providers to improve staffing. (oregon news)

 

Governor Kotek has appointed Aruna Masih to the Oregon Supreme Court.

Masih will be the first Punjabi, Indian American and South Asian Supreme Court justice. She’s been a practicing attorney in Oregon for over 25 years. She specializes in employment, worker, and civil rights law. She’s been a partner of the law firm Bennett Hartman. Masih will fill the remainder of the term left vacant when Justice Adrienne Nelson was appointed to the U.S. District Court of Oregon. (oregon news)

 

A Corvallis man has been sentenced to federal prison for running a fraudulent investment scheme.

It claimed to support various Christian missionaries and organizations. Erik Hass got members of his church and workplace to invest retirement and other cash accounts. He promised returns of up to 30 percent. He used the funds for his salary and personal expenses. At least 20 investors lost nearly two-million dollars. Hass was ordered to pay restitution to his victims and serve two-and-a-half years in federal prison. (oregon news)

 

Oregon renews Oregon Health Plan (OHP/Medicaid) benefits

Since the public health emergency ended this spring, Oregon has renewed Oregon Health Plan (OHP/Medicaid) benefits for more than 85% of members. By comparison, the national average for renewing Medicaid coverage is about 60%.

To date, approximately 4 million people across the U.S. have lost Medicaid coverage since the COVID-19 health emergency ended, which includes nearly four in 10 adults and one in three children.

Oregon is taking a different approach, one that has brought Oregon’s uninsured rate down from 6% to a record low of 4.6%. Currently about 1.5 million Oregonians (one in three people) are covered by OHP.

New OHP rules will allow Oregon to:

  • keep kids covered on OHP from birth to age 6.
  • guarantee benefits for a longer period of time, two years for most.
  • expand eligibility to adults with higher incomes.
  • provide full OHP coverage regardless of immigration status.
If you’ve ever wanted to help the state now is your chance. Governor Kotek is urging Oregonians to apply for over 130 open positions on 12 new boards and commissions that were created by the Legislature.

They include hospital discharge challenges, juvenile justice, cybersecurity, universal health and more. Kotek says true progress requires each and every one to be engaged. Applicants should apply on the state’s website. (oregon news)

 

More Than Half Of Oregon In Drought

According to a state report, more than half of Oregon is experiencing moderate to severe drought.

Several streams along the coast and in western Oregon are measuring record low flows. Southwestern and central Oregon measured the lowest July precipitation it’s ever recorded, according to the Oregon Water Resources Department’s report for July.
More than half of Oregon was in moderate to severe drought in July, according to data measured by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

About 52% of the state was in drought that month, up from 49% in June. The report shows a stark turn from this year’s spring, when snowmelt and heavier-than-usual rain helped alleviate drought in much of the state, particularly western Oregon.

Gov. Tina Kotek has declared drought emergencies for nine Oregon counties so far this year. Those declarations open up state resources to counties that need help. Dry conditions are making matters worse for regions battling wildfires. Rain in the spring helped plants grow fast, then an extremely dry summer dried them out. That’s left plenty of fuel to burn.

Conditions are particularly bad in Lane County. Much of the county is experiencing severe drought and some people have had to evacuate from the Bedrock and Lookout fires burning in the Willamette National Forest east of Eugene.

As of Monday afternoon, the Bedrock Fire had burned across about 19,300 acres. The Lookout Fire had burned across about 1,200 acres around three miles north of the McKenzie Bridge.

The National Weather Service has also issued excessive heat advisories for most of Oregon west of the Cascades. (SOURCE)

 

Oregon’s state-run paid leave program is on and taking applications. The first leave can start September 3rd with payments going out through direct deposit or prepaid cards two weeks later.

Paid Leave Oregon will cover time off for family members, illness, and safe leave. Around 41-thousand claims are expected at the start and then 12-thousand a month as the program moves forward. Grants are available for small businesses to help cover for employees while they’re on leave. Eleven states have similar programs. Details at paidleave-dot-oregon-dot-gov. (oregon news)

 

Gray whales are a sight to see and we are fortunate to have them off our coast, feeding in the summer months.

Oregon State University scientists have been watching them much more closely than the rest of us. In recent years, they’ve been using non-invasive techniques like drones, to really get to know the 212 gray whales called the Pacific Coast Feeding Group.

The population is much smaller than the 16,000 or so that travel farther north to Alaska to feed, in the Eastern North Pacific.

The habitat here off the Oregon coast is much different than the habitat of the gray whales feeding in Alaska or in the arctic would experience. It’s much more shallow, rocky, kelp forest, so you could see where a different morphology: smaller size, shorter skulls (and) flukes might actually help them thrive and survive in this habitat. (oregon news)

 

The restoration project for the Butte Creek Mill is entering its last push. As part of the final fundraising efforts, Jim Belushi, brother of the famous John Belushi and star of the TV show “according to Jim”, is putting on Comedy on the Rogue at Belushi Farms.

Tickets went on sale today at comedyontherogue.com. The night will include Jim Belushi’s Board of Comedy and music from Belushi’s band.

Volunteer Jay O’Neil said they need about $300,000 to finish the restoration project. Most of the work that needs done still is repairing the basement that was damaged by water during the fire.

Tickets will be on sale until late September, or until they sell out.

Belushi owns property in the Rogue Valley and has settled there.  (kdrv 12)

 

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