Disasters & Accidents

OPB News

Officials expected to lift a pre-evacuation notice for residents of Shevlin Park Road and Johnson Ranch in Bend by midnight Thursday.

Crews built fire lines around the Shevlin Fire which burned 8 to 10 acres. They officially declared it 100 percent contained. The brush fire broke out Thursday in the canyon of Tumalo Creek. The north half of Shevlin Park will be re-opened Friday. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Fire Information
 

Douglas Forest Protective Association

The federal government is warning this could be a dangerous and costly wildfire season in the west, due in part to drought and climate change.

The Douglas Forest Protective Association oversees 1.6-million acres of land in Douglas County. Fire Prevention Specialist Kyle Reed says their 10-year average is about 90 fires a year. He says they're already one-third of the way there.

John Rosman / OPB

The Johnsons are aware that scientists predict a megaquake could hit Oregon at any time. But like many households in the state, they don’t feel prepared. OPB followed the couple on a recent weekend as they tried to live off their emergency supplies.

Amelia Templeton / OPB

Experts say a magnitude nine earthquake off the Northwest coast could hit anytime. When it does, the Stephens family hopes to be resilient.
As part of OPB's "Living Off Your Kit" weekend we followed John and Megan and their two kids as they simulated a quake and lived off their emergency supplies.
The family learned they may be the only people on their block with an adequate supply of drinking water.

Alan Sylvestre / OPB

Experts say a megaquake off the Northwest coast could hit anytime. When it does, many of us may struggle to find safe shelter, connect with loved ones, and secure enough food and water to get by. This could be especially difficult for vulnerable populations.
As part of  OPB's "Living Off Your Kit" weekend, we followed a woman in Troutdale who has little income and lives with disabilities, as she simulated what  life would be like if she had to live off her emergency supplies.

ODOT

Updated Tuesday, May 19 at 3:45pm

Highway 58 is open to traffic now that the overturned semi loaded with dairy products has been removed. The detour using Westfir Road is no longer in effect.

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Monday, May 18:

An overturned semi on Oregon Highway 58, two miles west of Oakridge at milepost 32, will be recovered Tuesday instead of late tonight. Vehicles have been detoured on Westfir Road Monday while the truck's fuel and cargo were being offloaded.

Lane County’s deadliest stretch of road will be getting some safety improvements soon, and officials hope for additional long-term changes. Work begins soon on the construction on Highway 126 West near Walton.

There were ten deaths in 12 months last year on Highway 126 between Eugene and the coast. In response, Lane County Commissioner Jay Bozievich organized a task force to study how to prevent more accidents.

Bozievich: “Most of the crashes were lane departures. And it was either due to excessive speed or driver distraction.”

Oregon State Parks

Numbered signs along the Oregon coast help visitors identify their location in an emergency.  The large, bright, yellow signs are visible from the beach, air and offshore.

Tourists on the coast sometimes find it hard to describe exactly where they are, especially while walking on the beach. Captain Jim Kusz with North Lincoln Fire and Rescue says the project has been underway for some time. He says the signs were first installed along the central coast.

A federal judge in Eugene has dismissed as moot a lawsuit the Newport Fishermen's Wives brought against the U.S. Coast Guard. The suit was filed after the federal agency threatened to close its rescue helicopter station in Newport last year.

kathmandurelief.org

The Eugene Kathmandu Sister City Association has been raising money for victims of the Nepal earthquake. The group created a fundraising page but had to remove their tax-deductible gift statement after being contacted by the state department of justice. KLCC's Corinne Boyer reports that's now been fixed.

OSU Students Will Travel To Nepal To Assist Non-Profit

Apr 28, 2015
oregonstate.edu

Two Oregon State University students are set to leave for Nepal on Friday. Since the devastating earthquake struck over the weekend, they’ve been gathering and packing as many medical supplies as possible. 

Christian Nishioka and Cole Miller have been planning a trip to Nepal since January. They intend to make a film about CardioStart, a heart surgery non-profit. OSU professor Alina Padilla-Miller says the young men are part of her Transnational Transmedia class, which allows students to document organizations providing humanitarian aid to developing countries.

Brazil family

Two Eugene area women who had been hiking in Nepal when the earthquake hit Saturday contacted their families early Tuesday morning. The 21-year old Thurston High grads are alive and safe.

Amber Brazil and Alicia Scroggins were hiking in Nepal's Langtang National Park when the earthquake hit. Their families were worried.

Jennifer Brazil says Amber's father got a phone call from their daughter.
 
Brazil: "He didn’t have a lot of information. I think she wanted to get that phone call out of the way. But they were unharmed, safe, and obviously ready to get home."

Sam Rufener, former Woodgrain worker

Last November, the roof caved in at Woodgrain Millwork in Prineville after heavy snow. In the second of two reports, we look at working conditions at the mill. Former Woodgrain workers describe an environment where building maintenance was lax and the roof leaked for years.

Brazil family

Two young women from the Eugene  area are among the missing after Saturday's earthquake in Nepal. Amber Brazil and Alicia Scroggins are graduates of Springfield's Thurston High School.

 

John Rosman / OPB

Last November, the roof caved in at Woodgrain Millwork in Prineville, Oregon after heavy snow. In part one of this two-part investigation, we look at the circumstances around the roof collapse. Former Woodgrain workers describe an environment where building maintenance was lax and the roof leaked for years.

A hearing is scheduled Monday in Federal Court in Eugene on a lawsuit filed by Newport Fisherman's Wives against the Coast Guard. The suit was filed after the agency said they would close the Newport rescue helicopter facility at the end of last year. That closure was put off until January 2016.

The plaintiffs are asking Judge Michael McShane to suspend their lawsuit since the Coast Guard may still close the helicopter station. The coast guard has asked for the case to be dismissed.

Albany Fire Department

A fire broke out early Wednesday morning in the cafeteria building at South Albany High School, causing more than $1-million in damage.     

The school district says no injuries were reported. Classes at South Albany High have been canceled until next week.

As many as seventy fire fighters from the region helped battle the blaze.

A number of student groups, including band, choir, dance and cheerleading, lost equipment that was stored in the building.

Governor Kate Brown stopped by the scene on her lunch break Wednesday to offer her support.

Oregon’s firefighters have training sessions this week in Newport. While incident management scenarios take place every year, first responders anticipate a challenging 2015.

Nearly 100 firefighters are participating in team trainings on the Oregon Coast. Rich Hoover is with the State Fire Marshal’s office. He says they see the increased fire activity of the past couple of years continuing:

eugene.gov

The Eugene Springfield Fire Department is gearing up for a fire season that's expected to start early and end late. The Department always has an eye on the South Hills in case a fire breaks out.

The South Hills in Eugene and Springfield has the most trees and more difficult topography to navigate around. Every year the Fire Department updates evacuation routes and containment strategies for that area. Al Gerard is the Fire Marshal for Eugene / Springfield. He says the merger of the two departments has helped response efforts.

Tiffany Eckert

A contingency of first responders spent the afternoon (Wednesday) in downtown cottage grove running through scenarios for dealing with a natural gas pipeline emergency.

Williams Pipeline operates close to 4,000 miles of transmission pipeline through the Pacific Northwest. From the Columbia Gorge, pipes follow along Interstate-5, carrying compressed natural gas. They run through communities. Sometimes, lines cross railroad tracks.

FEMA.gov

Oregon is among 12 states to receive Enhanced Mitigation status from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

States with Enhanced Mitigation Plans have demonstrated to the federal government they have been proactive and comprehensive in their disaster preparedness programs. Achieving this status means more funding will be available to those states if a disaster happens. Oregon Office of Emergency Management Spokesman Cory Grogan says the success of Oregon's Mitigation Plans start with its leaders.

The Springfield City Council has asked staff to act promptly to improve safety on Main Street following a vehicle incident last month that killed three children.

The children, ages 4, 5 and 8, were in the crosswalk at Main and 54th on February 22nd when a pick-up driver struck and killed them.  The children’s mother, also struck, is recovering.  The incident is under investigation. 

In the past decade, 14 people have died on the wide corridor in collisions involving a mix of pedestrians, motorists and bicyclists:

(Grimaldi) “The goal is to get that to zero.”

Karen Richards

Senator Ron Wyden met with leaders of several Oregon fire prevention agencies today (Thursday) in Springfield. He's proposed legislation he hopes will make their jobs easier, as they face another potentially dangerous fire season.

With precipitation in the Willamette Basin currently at ten percent of normal, firefighters say they're doing work now they usually do in June. Senator Wyden is aware of the urgency. He and Idaho Republican Senator Mike Crapo have introduced a bill to classify mega-fires as natural disasters.

Family's GoFundMe site

Springfield Police say the initial investigation into Sunday's accident that killed three children and injured their mother, may have been caused by the driver running a red light.

A makeshift memorial sits near the site of the accident at 54th and Main Street. Springfield Police Sergeant Rich Charboneau says the investigation indicates the children and their mother had the right of way and were in the marked crosswalk.

Oregon State Police

Oregon State Police are continuing the investigation into Wednesday morning's fatal traffic crash in Westfir near Oakridge.

Police say a Honda Accord, driven by 66-year-old Jerry Lossing, of Oakridge, was traveling eastbound on West Oak Road when it failed to negotiate a curve and went into the oncoming lane of travel.

His car collided head-on with a Toyota Rav-4, driven by 68-year-old Kathleen Camerer, also of Oakridge.

Lossing was pronounced deceased by medics at the scene. Preliminary information indicates Lossing was not using his seat belt.

Heavy rains pounded the Oregon coast Monday Several schools and businesses lost power including the Adobe Inn in Yachats.

General Manager Anthony Muirhead says the lasting damage is to the front door. The strong winds blew it completely off its hinges.

“It was about seven o’clock this morning and certainly got our attention quickly. I think for our guests, it was just an impressive scene for what nature can do here on the coast.”

Lebanon Police Dept.

Winds knocked down as many as a dozen power poles and lines on Highway 34 between Corvallis and Lebanon. The highway is restricted to one lane of traffic as crews repair the damage. The downed lines have caused outages for about 18-thousand customers in Lebanon, Sweet Home, Cascadia and Foster.

Some schools are closing early due to the outage. Pacific Power says on its website it's hoping to have the power back by 1:30 this (Monday) afternoon.

Jay Wilson / OPB

Scientists say the northwest is due for an earthquake and tsunami as big as the one that struck Japan nearly four years ago. That could spell trouble for fire stations, schools and hospitals built with little or no seismic engineering.
Oregon Field Guide’s Ed Jahn recently traveled to Japan. He visited one hospital there that survived the 2011 quake without so much as a broken window.
 

Some Oregon Towns Are Prepared For Earthquake, Some Aren't

Jan 28, 2015
Kristian Foden-Vencil / OPB

Communities up and down the Oregon Coast have known about the threat of a tsunami for years. But some are better prepared than others. What are coastal communities doing to prepare?   

MaryJo Kerlin, with the Lincoln County School District, stands in the car park of the old Waldport High -- just 12 feet above sea level.

MaryJo Kerlin: "As you look around, you can see there is no high school here any longer. It's been demolished. It was demolished in a learn-to-burn exercise with our local fire departments."

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