Karen Richards


Karen Richards has been a volunteer reporter since the fall of 2012.

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Firefighters continue to battle a wildfire sparked Wednesday afternoon near Eugene. The Chambers Mill fire, about three miles south of Lorane, has worsened local air quality. Firefighters worked through the night, bulldozing a line around most of the perimeter. Cynthia Orlando is with the Oregon Department of Forestry, which is fighting the fire:

Lane Regional Air Protection Agency

Air quality in the south Willamette Valley declined earlier this week due to smoke from wildfires in southern Oregon and northern California. A new fire south of Eugene has further increased risks. Residents may need to prepare for a long stretch of hazy conditions.


Oregon’s new gun background check law took effect yesterday [Sunday]. The legislation requires all gun sales, including private exchanges, to be vetted through a federally licensed dealer.

With the new law, Oregon becomes the 12th state to require universal background checks. Legislators hope criminal and mental health checks for private and online sales will reduce gun violence in the state. Amy Ruiz is with the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund:

Karen Richards

A recent article in the New Yorker and the July Fourth earthquake near Springfield have generated concern for the potential of a massive Cascadia event in the Northwest. Scientists at the U of O have been working to strengthen Oregon’s early warning systems.


If July felt hot and sweaty, it was for good reason. The heat broke records in the Willamette Valley.

It was the hottest July ever in Eugene, crushing the previous record, set in 1958. Andy Bryant with the National Weather Service says the heat was well above normal:

Bryant: “So the average temperature for Eugene for the month of July was 71.5 degrees, that’s 4.7 degrees above average. The average high, if you look at all the highs during the month of July, the average was 88.2, also a few degrees above average.”


A fire burning west of Roseburg jumped its lines last (Wednesday) night, and has expanded to an estimated 600 acres. Here is an update on the Cable Crossing Fire.

The fire off highway 138 near Glide started Tuesday afternoon. Kyle Reed, with the Douglas Forest Protection Association, says it’s grown beyond their capacity:

Reed: “Our district covers 1.6 million acres. So with this fire growing in complexity and size we went ahead and brought in a team from the Oregon Department of Forestry. And basically they’re coming in to relieve our guys working on that fire.”


Springfield’s City Council voted unanimously last week to add a fire renewal measure to the fall ballot. The property tax levy would give a five-year extension to one expiring in June.

City spokesman Neil Laudati says merging Eugene and Springfield’s fire departments has saved money by consolidating the Fire Chief and Fire Marshals office:

Laudati: “But when you talk about the renewal of the levy, it’s specific to Springfield, it’s specific to having five stations in Springfield. So this levy is for the cost of the operation of a fifth station in Springfield.”

Joe Chung

Oregon has enjoyed cooler days over the past week, thanks to low pressure from the Gulf of Alaska. By Wednesday, extremely hot weather is expected to return.

Andy Bryant is with the National Weather Service. He says people should be prepared for above average temperatures later this week:

Bryant: “In the south Willamette Valley, we have a forecast high on Thursday of 100 for Eugene. It looks like it’s going to be hot all throughout western Oregon.”


Last week, Planned Parenthood of Southwest Oregon received a federal grant for its teen pregnancy prevention programs.

The Office of Adolescent Health awarded nearly 19 million dollars, spread over multiple programs in the Northwest. Eugene-based Planned Parenthood Vice President Mary Gossart says their portion—150- to 180 thousand dollars--will fund a five-year program:


Wood product manufacturers in Springfield and Eugene now have preferential access to federal development funds. Local leaders head to Washington, D.C. tomorrow [Tuesday] to help advance their goals.