Disasters & Accidents

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.

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