Disasters & Accidents

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."

Anniversary Reminds Oregon Of Earthquake Risk

Dec 25, 2014
OPB.org

December 26 is the 10-year anniversary of the Boxing Day earthquake that struck off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. Since the devastating earthquake and tsunami, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management has stepped up preparations for a major quake here.

Oregon is located along the Cascadia Subduction zone, a fault capable of producing a major quake. Cory Grogan, with the Oregon Office of Emergency Management says it’s not a matter of if it’s a matter of when. New evacuation and tsunami inundation maps have been created and are vital to Oregon’s preparedness.

Oregon Department of Transportation

US 101 will likely remain at a single lane of travel for as long as 2 months 12 miles north of Florence. A landslide this weekend damaged the roadway near Heceta Head.

Heavy rains caused a landslide that did extensive damage to the northbound lane of 101. One lane is open to traffic with flaggers and a pilot car. Rick Little with the Oregon Department of Transportation says drivers should expect a 20 minute delay.

He says the road will be restricted until a fix to the landslide can be designed and put in place.

KVAL.com

United Airline flights Monday and Tuesday from Eugene to San Francisco were canceled due to weather conditions in the bay area. KLCC's Claude Offenbacher spoke about it with the Airport's Assistant Director Cathryn Stephens.

Stephens said the configuration of the San Francisco airport means rain as well as fog can wreak havoc. They cause incoming delays. These backups then lead to cancellations.

Stephens:  "So they start having weather down there, and they start having to slow down their arrivals and their departures, their capacity goes way down."

Several areas in Eugene were without power for about two hours Saturday afternoon. The outages started just before three p.m., affecting several thousand Eugene Water and Electric Board customers and a University of Oregon basketball game.

Four substations malfunctioned, taking out power to the U of O campus, and Whiteaker and Coburg Road neighborhoods. Traffic signals went dark during the outage and the second half of the women’s basketball game was delayed by over an hour while waiting for the power to come back on.

Newport Coast Guard Base Will Remain Open

Dec 11, 2014
www.newslincolncounty.com

The U.S. Coast Guard helicopter base in Newport will stay open. It had been slated to close this month to save the Coast Guard 6-million-dollars. KLCC’s Corinne Boyer  reports.

Democratic members of the Oregon delegation negotiated the language in the coast guard reauthorization bill. It will prohibit the closure of any air facilities in the U.S. for the next year.

Oregon State Police

Oregon State Police is continuing the investigation into this morning's crash that killed two Mapleton High School students and injured three others on Highway 126W, east of Florence.

At approximately 7:00 a.m. Thursday, local emergency responders and OSP troopers from the Springfield and Florence offices were dispatched to a single vehicle crash on Highway 126W at milepost 15 near Mapleton in Lane County.

Angela Kellner

UPDATE: 10:28 a.m.

Eugene Police say all lanes of W. 7th Ave. are now open.

UPDATE: 8:45 a.m.

Eugene Police say two lanes of West 7th Avenue are now open to traffic.

____________________________

Eugene Police are investigating a Saturday morning crash of a white van into a tree on West 7th Avenue between Charnelton and Olive St.

West 7th is closed until further notice at Charnelton. The condition of the driver has not been released.

CBS Local website.

Hygienic funeral and patient isolation practices are key factors to ending Ebola in West Africa. That's according to a study published by an Oregon State University researcher.

The study says current containment practices will likely cause the disease to continue to expand by more than 200 cases in Liberia by December. Jan Medlock teaches Biomedical Sciences at OSU. He says the disease is most contagious around the time of death, which means hygienic funeral practices are essential to preventing further infections.

Nick Edwards / OPB

The Newport Coast Guard helicopter facility is getting a small reprieve. Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and Congressman Kurt Shrader Tuesday spoke with the commandant of the Coast Guard and got assurance from him that the November 30th date previously set for the closure of the Newport facility would be extended to December 15th.

Oregon Participates In The Great ShakeOut

Oct 14, 2014
eraelmundo

On October 16 at 10:16 a.m., Oregonians will have a chance to practice “drop, cover, and hold” as a part of the international Great ShakeOut exercise.

When a major earthquake hits Oregon, residents need to be prepared. The state lies in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, putting the area at risk of an earthquake.

To get people prepared, the state will be holding “The Great Oregon ShakeOut." This drill gives communities, schools, and other organizations a chance to practice their immediate responses to a tremor.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

For years there's been a battle raging between Idaho ranchers and the federal government over whether ranchers should be able to fight wildfires. Get out there, with their trucks and tanks of water and try to put the fires out themselves. Ranchers say they've always done it. The Feds have said, leave it to the pros and don't make yourself a liability. At times it's almost come close to blows. But now a truce has been struck. And it could change the way fires are fought every summer.

Eugene Holds Second Disaster Relief Trials

Oct 12, 2014
Amanda Butt

Saturday, dozens of bicyclists gathered in Alton Baker Park for the second annual Disaster Relief Trials.

If a natural disaster strikes in Eugene, cargo bikers are prepared to help the community. Around 60 cyclists gathered in Alton Baker Park - eager to begin the obstacle course modeled after an earthquake disaster. Emma Stocker is with the University of Oregon Emergency Management Team, she explains the course’s design:

commuteorlando.com

The second annual Eugene Cargo Bike Fair and Disaster Relief Trials will be held Saturday at Alton Baker Park. It’s sponsored by the City of Eugene, the University of Oregon, and a host of bike advocates. Emma Stocker of the University’s Emergency Management Team says the event is designed to help demonstrate the capabilities of bikes in disaster situations such as:

Task Force Outlines Oregon Earthquake Disaster Plan

Oct 2, 2014
OPB

A governor appointed task force drafted recommendations to address the dangers of a major earthquake and tsunami this week at Oregon state university. If enacted, the cost would be 100 million dollars per year. KLCC’s Corinne Boyer reports.

Oregon State Police

A school bus loaded with students from the Pleasant Hill School District went off the road Wednesday morning. No injuries were reported.

It happened on Highway 222 near Jasper Road, north of Pleasant Hill. Emergency responders were called to the scene at 7:44 a.m. They first checked on the students, ages 5-15 years old, to make sure there were no injuries.

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