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News brief: Chehalis lawyer given lifetime service award from state peers

Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 2:41 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Washington State Bar Association has posthumously honored Chehalis attorney James A. Vander Stoep with its 2014 Lifetime Service Award, in recognition of his 53-year career of service to the legal community.

Vander Stoep’s highest priorities were reflected by his ongoing dedicated service to family, his profession and his community, WSBA Governor Brian J. Kelly said in a prepared statement shared with the news media yesterday.

“Jim’s accomplishments to our profession were made as a small-town lawyer.” Kelly stated. “His time was a valued commodity, but he unselfishly shared it with us. Jim exemplified service above self through his life.”

The award was presented to his wife Suzi Vander Stoep at the group’s annual awards dinner on Thursday night at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel.

Vander Stoep began practicing law in Chehalis in 1950, when only one judge worked in the county courthouse on Main Street in Chehalis, and fewer than 20 lawyers practiced in the Twin Cities. He retired in 2003 from the firm Vander Stoep, Remund, Kelly & Blinks.

During a career that spanned five decades, he also chaired the committee to bring a public swimming pool to Chehalis and co- founded the Chehalis Little League.

According to the WSBA, Vander Stoep was a former WSBA president and Board of Governors member, a former Lewis County Bar Association president, a life member of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, and a member and former state chair of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

His longtime law partner Rene Remund offered formal praise as well.

“Jim was a person who was fierce in the courtroom and courteous outside it,” Remund stated. “His practice of law was based on competence civility, and honesty. He was a credit to his profession and a contributor to his community.”

The WSBA is authorized by the Washington Supreme Court to license the state’s lawyers and other legal professionals, regulating them under the court and acting as a professional association for its members.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Updated at 4:17 p.m.

TENINO HOUSE FIRE

• Tenino firefighters were called to a house fire last night on Vantime Road about three miles northeast of town. “On arrival we had smoke coming out of the house, on the second floor,” Thurston County Fire District 12 Battalion Chief  James Fowler said. “The interior crew got upstairs and found fire in a closet.” Crews were joined by personnel from three other fire departments and were on the scene about two hours, Fowler said. Nobody was hurt, he said. He estimated the damage at perhaps $50,000 because of wallboard that will have to be replaced. The bedroom sustained smoke damage and the first floor just a little water damage, he said. The contents of the closet were consumed. The two-story structure is like a mother-in-law house where the property owner’s band practices, according to Fowler.

ASSAULTS

• Centralia police booked a 23-year-old man into the jail this morning in connection with an incident reported yesterday at the 200 block of North Iron Street in which he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend and took her cell phone. Officers called about 1:40 p.m. yesterday learned David J. Rangel had left before they were called, according to the Centralia Police Department. Officers later went to the residence because Rangel was there and he fled out the back door, according to police. Police dog Lobo was called to the area and located their suspect hiding in some bushes several blocks away. He was booked for second-degree robbery. Officers also arrested  and 18-year-old Centralia resident for obstructing, contending they had delayed Rangel’s arrest, giving him time to escape. Baylor Jackson Scott was cited and then released, according to police.

• Centralia police were called about 7 p.m. yesterday to a dispute at Centralia College Boulevard and Silver Street where witnesses said a male pointed a gun at several people and pulled a female into his dark-colored sport utility vehicle and assaulted her. The participants are all known to each other, according to the Centralia Police Department. No arrest has been made, police report this morning.

DRUGS

• A 22-year-old Centralia man was arrested yesterday for a warrant and possession of methamphetamine after contact with an officer about 1:15 p.m. at the 1000 block of Scammon Creek Road in Centralia. Jarrin A. Smalley was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

FORK PEAK FIRE UPDATE

• The Fork Peak Fire southwest of Pe Ell has been held to 126 acres and is now 95 percent contained. “There is still some heat in the interior of the burned area that is also being mopped up to minimize the chance of wind-thrown embers,” the Department of Natural Resources states in its morning report. There is very little fire activity near the fire’s edge, according to DNR spokesperson Jay Guthrie. The forest fire about five miles southwest of town began Sept. 11 in an active logging area, on private timberland owned by Rayonier. Still, 103 personnel are working the site, with three hand crews, seven fire engines, two water tenders and one piece of heavy equipment, according to Guthrie. Guthrie notes he expects the update he sends out tomorrow will be the final one for this fire. DNR took the opportunity to suggest to the public that autumn is a great time to improve your property and implement a firewise home and community. For more information about Firewise Communities check out the website www.firewise.org

WSP WELCOMES NEW TROOPERS

• A new trooper is joining the state patrol detachment in Morton  following his graduation from the Washington State Patrol Academy. Justin R. Schaffer, from Centralia, is among 39  individuals sworn in this week at a ceremony at the Capitol in Olympia. Also presented their official commission cards on Wednesday by Gov. Jay Inslee and WSP Chief John Bastiste were Centralia resident Jacob D. Payne, who will be working out of Yakima and Christopher L. Hendrickson from Tenino who is assigned to the Hoquiam detachment, according to the state patrol.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor theft; responses for collision on city street, misdemeanor assault … and more.

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Centralia man questioned about dead man’s vehicle, home, belongings

Friday, September 19, 2014 at 7:59 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Police are investigating a man who allegedly falsely claimed he was a relative of a Chehalis resident who died in January, and left all of his property to him.

Chehalis police were contacted by Walter Pettit’s family last week, who went to Pettit’s house near Chehalis Middle School and found it had been cleaned out and someone was remodeling it, Chehalis Deputy Police Chief Randy Kaut said.

A detective interviewed 46-year-old Michael J. Dobbs yesterday and subsequently arrested him on suspicion of theft and forgery. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

Court papers state Dobbs transferred the decedent’s car into his own name, by claiming to be the decedent’s son, and the detective learned from the funeral home they released the cremated remains to Dobbs’ on Dobbs’ representation he was the nephew.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Eisenberg however, charged Dobbs today only with possession of methamphetamine.

The detective found a baggie of suspected meth in Dobbs’ pocket when he was searched following his arrest, according to Eisenberg. He said it wasn’t his, court papers state.

Eisenberg said Dobbs produced a will from 2011 which made Dobbs personal representative and sole heir of the estate.

“The presence of the will makes it unclear if Dobbs’ behavior regarding the decedent’s estate was lawful,” Eisenberg wrote in court documents, explaining why he filed only the drug charge at this time.

Kaut said this afternoon detectives are continuing to investigate. He didn’t yet know how the two men were acquainted or what Pettit died from, only that the 55-year-old was transferred to a hospital in Thurston County where he passed away.

Dobbs appeared before a judge this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court and was released on a $10,000 signature bond.

Defense attorney Bob Schroeter said Dobbs is not employed, but is a full time parent of three children in Centralia.

Kaut said police don’t yet know what happened to Pettit’s belongings. Eisenberg stated in court documents Dobbs offered several improbable stories about how they’d been stolen, returned and then stolen again.

The will, ostensibly signed by Pettit and witnessed by two individuals, looks valid, Eisenberg said this afternoon. But detectives are looking into that issue further, he said.

Court papers state Dobbs has prior convictions in California, including receiving stolen property in 1999 and 2001.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, September 19, 2014 at 11:24 am

POLICE: GUN IN FACE LANDS DAD IN JAIL

• A 43-year-old Toledo man was arrested yesterday for allegedly pointing a firearm at his 16-year-old daughter’s face in their home on the 100 block of Barnes Drive. Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said it apparently occurred on Saturday and deputies learned of it on Monday from Child Protective Services and investigated. The girl said her father had been drinking with his friends, and the incident was related to a dispute over him making his daughter dance with one of his friends, Brown said. Jose C. Rodriguez was contacted yesterday and then booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree assault, Brown said.

MISSING MEDS

• Centralia police took a report yesterday morning regarding prescription medications stolen from the 900 block of South Tower Avenue.

ANGRY TEEN

• Chehalis police were called about 10:15 p.m. yesterday to a report a female was seen putting sugar in the gas tank of a car at the 300 block of Southwest Third Street. Two girls who were contacted in the area said the woman who owns the vehicle had been harassing them on Facebook, according to the Chehalis Police Department. One of them a 15-year-old, was booked into the Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center for second-degree malicious mischief, according to police.

VACANT HOUSE NOT EMPTY

• A 44-year-old homeless man was arrested yesterday when cleaners showed up at a vacant rental home in Centralia and found him sleeping inside. An officer responding about 9:45 a.m. to the 600 block of Alder Street booked Gordon C. Powell Jr., of Chehalis, into the Lewis County Jail for trespassing, according to the Centralia Police Department. Powell said he found the front door unlocked, Officer Patty Finch said.

FORK PEAK FIRE UPDATE

• Authorities report this morning the fire activity on the Fork Peak Fire has been greatly reduced by all the hard work of firefighters, who were assisted by rain overnight on Wednesday. The 126-acre fire is 90 percent contained,  according to the Department of Natural Resources. The forest fire about five miles southwest of Pe Ell began late last week in an active logging area, on private timberland owned by Rayonier. The area has been assessed for hot spots with a hand-held infrared viewer, according to DNR’s morning report. One hundred thirty six personnel are assigned to the fire. Today’s objective continues to be to keep fire south of A-Line, north of the 7820 Road, west of the F-line and east of the Weyerhaeuser ownership, according to the report.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, disorderly conduct, misdemeanor theft, misdemeanor assault; responses for disputes, shoplifting, suspicious vehicle … and more.

2014.0919.imageforkpeakfiremap

A map from DNR shows the footprint of the Fork Peak Fire. Click here to open a PDF of this image.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Updated at 9:13 p.m.

DRUGS

• An investigation by Centralia Police Department’s special Anti-Crime Team led to a search warrant yesterday at the 1200 block of North Fork Road south of Chehalis and the arrest of two individuals. Officer Patty Finch said police found three grams of suspected heroin at a residence there and arrested Brandon M. Cruzan, 24, of Chehalis, for possession of heroin with intent to deliver. Arrested at the same time was Riley R. Jones, 27, of Chehalis, for delivery of methamphetamine, possession of meth with intent to deliver and possession of heroin, Finch said. They were both booked into the Lewis County Jail.

INTERRUPTED BURGLARY

• Chehalis police were called just before 8 o’clock yesterday morning by a resident of the 1400 block of Southwest Kelly Avenue who said his neighbor just called because him to say someone was in his house. The neighbor knocked on the door and noticed someone leaving out the back and hop into a car, according to the Chehalis Police Department. “Nothing ended up being taken,” department spokesperson Linda Bailey said. The investigation is ongoing, Bailey said.

COLLISIONS

• A 33-year-old Centralia man was arrested for driving under the influence last night after his vehicle allegedly struck the rear tail light of a car parked on the 1300 block of Central Boulevard in Centralia. Officers responding about 8:20 p.m. reportedly caught up with Nicholas A. Rickart on Roswell Road and then booked him into the Lewis County Jail for DUI as well as hit and run, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 25-year-old Vader man ended up with a possibly broken collarbone when the vehicle in which he was a passenger swerved for a deer, went into a slide and rolled several times yesterday morning near Winlock. He was cited for not wearing a seatbelt, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy responding to the approximately 5:30 a.m. wreck on the 1500 block of Winlock-Vader Road learned the 34-year-old driver, also from Vader, was headed northbound when the deer ran into the road, according to the sheriff’s office. Responders extricated the patients from the 1990 Ford Bronco and they were taken to the emergency room at Providence Centralia Hospital, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. The driver was cited for not having insurance. He had a cut on the top of his head, Brown said.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, misdemeanor assault, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, disputes, disorderly person, suspicious person collision on city street … and more.

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Read about former Montesano police chief in trouble again, allegedly dealing drugs …

Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Updated

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A one-time finalist for the position of chief of police in Chehalis was charged yesterday in Pierce County after a search of his apartment turned up heroin and meth, drugs he allegedly admitted he’s been selling for the past two months.

The (Aberdeen) Daily World reports Ray Sowers however, denied using drugs.

News reporter Jake Schild writes Sowers was also charged with unlawfully possessing a firearm, in connection with a handgun discovered under his bed and a January felony charge for stealing more than $1,500 worth of liquor from a Safeway store.

The (Tacoma) News Tribune reports Sowers is a drug court participant in Pierce County, and now has a hearing Oct. 14 to determine whether he’s kicked out of the program.

Sowers resigned as police chief from Montesano in 2010 after an investigation found he spent thousands of dollars of public money on personal purchases, ending his 26-year law enforcement career, according to Schild.

He interviewed for the top cop job in the Lewis County seat in late 2006.

Read more about it here

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Read more about pounds and pounds of illegal marijuana …

Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 10:49 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Longview) Daily News reports the generally well-liked-by-his-neighbors 62-year-old accused by Centralia police of illegally supplying large amounts of marijuana in the region is being held on $200,000 bail.

George Szerency, 62, of Kelso, had not been charged yet by yesterday afternoon, news reporter Shari Phiel writes.

A two-month investigation by the Centralia Police Department’s special Anti-Crime Team led to Szerency’s home on Monday, and the seizure of 21 pounds of marijuana buds, guns, cars, more than $50,000 cash and nine-foot tall marijuana plants growing in his backyard. The operation was using the cover that they were supplying medical marijuana distributors, according to police.

Phiel reports police believe Szerency bought marijuana in 40- to 100-pound increments in southern Oregon and resold it one pound at a time to buyers in Kelso, Olympic and Tacoma.

Read more here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Updated at 6:34 p.m.

BANK FRAUD

• Centralia police yesterday took a report from the 200 block of North Pearl Street regarding fraudulent checks being written at a bank.  The case is under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRUGS

• Centralia police arrested  25-year-old man yesterday morning for possession of heroin and a warrant. Panther W. Risling of Centralia was booked into the Lewis County Jail after contact with an officer at the 1200 block of Alder Street about 9:30 a.m., according to the Centralia Police Department.

FROM THE COURTHOUSE: NAPAVINE’S NAKED DRIVER LOCATED

• Jeremy R. Hamilton was charged only with attempting to elude police for the Napavine incident in which he allegedly slipped away as he was being handcuffed and fled through a field into the night, barefoot and completely unclothed. The 39-year-old Napavine resident is expected in Lewis County Superior Court tomorrow for his arraignment; he was charged on Monday following his arrest over the weekend. According to charging documents, Napavine Police Chief Chris Salyers discovered Hamilton was in the jail on outstanding warrants. The Sept. 5 incident began about 10 p.m. when police were called by a resident on the 400 block of Eighth Avenue who said a person was in a car parked in front of her house, she asked him to leave and he refused, according to the documents. Police said as a patrol car approached, Hamilton drove away without turning on his headlights, and  a short pursuit ensued, basically around the block and ended back in front of the original home. Officer Noel Shields drew his Taser and ordered Hamilton from the vehicle, which he did, charging documents state. Hamilton was naked and struggled away after he was partially handcuffed, according to police. He escaped over a fence, but Shields identified him by the Washington State identification card in the wallet on the ground next to his car, charging documents state. The court papers offer no explanation as to why he was driving around nude, nor if he was acquainted with the woman whose house he was parked in front of. However, among his past criminal offenses are harassment, a drug violation, a protection order violation and a warrant for an unresolved indecent exposure offense from 2009, according to court documents. He remains in the jail on $25,000 bail.

FORK PEAK FIRE UPDATE

• The seventh day of firefighting on timberland outside Pe Ell began with the Fork Peak Fire at 80 percent containment. The forest fire has spread over 126 acres since it was discovered, about five miles southwest of town in Pacific County, according to the Department of Natural Resources. The property is owned by Rayonier. DNR reported this morning it continues to smolder, with low spread potential. Two hundred and twelve personnel are assigned to the fire. On today’s plan of action was to keep fire south of A-Line, north of the 7820 Road, west of the F-line and east of the Weyerhaeuser ownership, according to the report.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor theft; responses for disputes, suspicious circumstances, drug investigation, telephone harassment, dead deer across from Southwest Moonlight Lane in Chehalis, a vehicle stuck on railroad tracks on Floral Street in Centralia, naked man sitting in the bushes near Best Western Hotel in Chehalis who turned out to be sleepwalking; complaints about landlord, people laying on outdoor benches, vehicle owner’s behavior when contacted by a repo man … and more.

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News brief: Mayfield drowning victim identified

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 11:10 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 51-year-old man who presumably drowned in Lake Mayfield two weeks ago has been positively identified as Terrence E. Murphy of Winlock.

His body was recovered on Monday by the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team in the area where he had jumped from a bluff at Ike Kinswa State Park.

Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod indicates an autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has said there was no sign of foul play.

The team used a submersible camera device, and located Murphy 65 feet below the surface between a cliff wall and a log.

•••

For background, read “Man who jumped into Lake Mayfield yesterday presumed drowned” from Wednesday Sept. 3, 2014, here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 8:33 pm

Updated at 9:32 p.m.

WIDOW VICTIMIZED DURING MEMORIAL GATHERING

• A 72-year-old Chehalis area woman called the sheriff’s office after discovering someone went through her purse during a gathering at her home following her husband’s funeral yesterday. A deputy responding to the 700 block of North Ford Road reports the loss of cash and several prescription medications comes to $250, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. There are persons of interest in the case, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

TOBACCO TAKEN IN BURGLARY

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning that a red sport utility vehicle was seen leaving a home on the 2700 block of Graf Road in Centralia on Sunday when the resident returned home to discover 15 packs of Marlboro cigarettes missing.

MOWER MISSING

• A deputy took a report yesterday from the 700 block of Tucker Road in Toledo that sometime since Saturday someone pried a hasp from a door and stole a red Sears self-propelled lawn mower, in new condition.

FRAUD

• Centralia police were called to the 800 block of North Washington Avenue last night regarding fraudulent charges on a card at several local businesses. The case is still under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRUGS

• A 28-year-old Centralia woman arrested on a warrant was also arrested for possession of methamphetamine last night when an officer searched her and found suspected meth. The approximately 1 a.m. arrest came after neighbors on the 1600 block of Winterwood Drive called police about a suspicious vehicle parked in the area, according to the Centralia Police Department. Michelle A. Gibson was  booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Centralia police took a report yesterday of a safe stolen from an unlocked pickup truck while it was parked at an apartment complex on the 2800 block of Russell Road last Wednesday. Among the valuables inside the Sentry brand safe were birth certificates, vehicle titles, jewelry and coins, according to the Centralia Police Department.

COLLISIONS

• A 22-year-old driver escaped injury when he swerved to miss a deer and struck a power pole yesterday afternoon on the 400 block of Yates Road in south Chehalis. A deputy responding about 4 p.m.  found the Chehalis man was not hurt but his 2002 Toyota Tacoma was totaled, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• A 54-year-old Chehalis man totaled his pickup truck when he ran off the road at the 2500 block of Jackson Highway south of Chehalis yesterday, entered a ditch and then struck a tree. His injuries were minor but he was taken to the hospital for a pre-existing medical condition following the approximately 5:50 p.m. wreck, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said it may have been a medical condition which caused the driver to leave the roadway.

• A 38-year-old motorcyclist was hospitalized after he called 911 from Forest Service Road 25 in East Lewis County after he lost control, was ejected and slid beneath a gate, possibly breaking his arm. It happened about about 11 a.m. on Sunday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The Lynnwood man was transported to Morton General Hospital, according to the sheriff’s office.

MOSSY BARN FIRE APPEARS AN ARSON

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported yesterday the fire that burned down an old barn in Mossyrock last week is being investigated as an arson. Authorities said it was third fire in three weeks on the approximately 20-acre parcel at the 100 block of  Mossyrock Road West. Twice before the blaze last Wednesday night, the fire department was called out for small fires in the tree-line on the north side of the property, according to Chief Doug Fosburg. Several juveniles have been in the area causing problems, sheriff’s office Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said yesterday. Authorities say there was no power to the building and no reason it would have caught fire on its own. The 6,000 square-foot barn built in 1942 was destroyed, with a loss to its owner estimated at $20,000, according to the sheriff’s office.  It contained only very old hay and  various pieces of haying equipment. The barn is owned by a 70-year-old Mossyrock woman, Brown said.

FIREFIGHTER RECOMMENDS DEFERRING LAWN MOWING

• More than eight acres of pasture burned yesterday west of Tenino, apparently sparked by a tractor mower. Thurston County Fire District 12 called about 1:50 p.m. to the 17000 block of Marsh Road Southwest found about an acre of grass on fire and spent the next four hours chasing flames, according to Battalion Chief James Fowler. “It was wind-driven, and every time we’d get one part out, it would start up in another place,” Fowler said. Fowler said an individual at the racing horse farm had been mowing and turned to make another pass and noticed grass on the mower deck was on fire. He drove to a water source and extinguished it, Fowler said. Members of four other fire departments responded to help, he said. The owner and employees moved about a half dozen horses to a field in the front of the property and they were unharmed, according to Fowler. “Nobody was hurt, no houses or other property was damaged, other than the grass burned up,” he said. Fowler suggested its simply too dry out to risk mowing right now and others might think about putting the task off for awhile.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants; responses for alarms, disputes, disorderly person, hit and run, collision on city street, collisions on county roads, suspicious circumstances, a bloody arrow found in a yard … and more.

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Tenino baby dies in driveway tragedy

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 6:17 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 1-year-old girl was killed when she was run over by a car in a Tenino area driveway this morning.

“A tragic accident, no charges, just a tragic accident,” Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Cliff Zeisemer said today.

Deputies and firefighters were called about 8:15 a.m. to the baby’s family home on the 16,000 block of Melville Street.

Ziesemer said a 21-year-old woman arrived to the residence to pick up a child for daycare, as the families carpooled.

“Mom came out with the child and also the 1-year-old,” Ziesemer said. “Unbeknownst to everyone, the child had walked in front of the van.”

He said the newer van pulled away very slowly in the circular driveway; the mother had turned to head back into the house.

An arriving deputy started CPR and members of Thurston County Fire District 12 continued, but the baby was pronounced dead at the scene, according to responders.

The parents were both home, the mother had thought the child was back in the house, he said.

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Fork Peak Fire near Pe Ell 70 percent contained

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 2:29 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The sixth day of firefighting at an active logging site outside of Pe Ell began with the Fork Peak Fire at 70 percent containment.

The forest fire has spread over 120 acres since it was discovered, about five miles southwest of Pe Ell. It’s burned recently harvested timber, slash and mature timber on property owned by Rayonier.

2014.0913.dnr.forkpeak.saturdaysmall

Fork Peak Fire / DNR

It’s smoldering now, with low spread potential, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Smoke may still be visible from Pe Ell and adjacent communities, DNR reported this morning.

A crew supervisor was injured over the weekend while working on the fire and airlifted to Providence Centralia Hospital, but released by that evening, according to DNR spokesperson Janet Pearce.

Two hundred-twenty-one personnel are actively fighting the fire, according to Pearce.

Authorities continue to advise the public avoid to Elk Prairie Road, A-Line and Forks Creek Road near the fire area to help firefighters in minimizing any potential hazards. They originally mis-stated the name of Elk Prairie Road as Elks Creek Road.

Their work is supported by nine fire engines, eight water tenders, two bull dozers and one helicopter, Pearce states in this morning’s report.

No structures are threatened.

The fire in Pacific County, near the Lewis County line, is under the command of DNR’s Pacific Cascade Region.

The fire was reported at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday. Its cause is under investigation.

•••

For background, see ” ‘Really big’ wildfire spreading southwest of Pe Ell” from Friday Sept. 12, 2014 at 9:15 p.m., here

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Centralia police shut down illegal marijuana operation in Cowlitz County

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 12:09 pm
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Cash and processed marijuana buds are seized from Kelso home / Courtesy photo by Centralia Police Department’

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A two-month investigation  by the Centralia Police Department’s special Anti-Crime Team led yesterday to the seizure of 21 pounds of dried marijuana buds, guns, cars, more than $50,000 cash and nine-foot tall marijuana plants growing in a Kelso backyard.

Centralia police say the suspects were illegally supplying large amounts of marijuana in the Lewis, Thurston, Pierce and Cowlitz county areas, as medical marijuana distributors.

“The suspects were then laundering the money by buying and selling used cars to hide the large amounts of cash,” Centralia Police Department Officer Patty Finch states in a news release.

Police say officers conducted an unspecified number of undercover purchases from the suspects and then yesterday made a traffic stop and arrested George Szerency, 62, of Kelso.

A search that followed of his nearby home on the 800 block of South Seventh Avenue turned up 10 fully mature plants growing in his yard, a handgun, a rifle, just under $51,000 in U.S. currency and the buds plus 24 grams of hash oil. Also seized were a 2004 Pontiac Bonneville and a 1997 Mercedes E320, according to police.

Centralia police were assisted by the Kelso Police Department and the Cowlitz County Drug Task Force.

Szerency was booked into the Cowlitz County Jail for unlawful delivery of marijuana, conspiracy to deliver 15 to 20 pounds of marijuana, unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and unlawful manufacturing of marijuana, all within 1,000 feet of a school zone and while armed, according to the news release.

Officers are referring to prosecutors a case for charging Teresa Torres, 60, also of Kelso, with the same offenses. A case involving a third person, Dennis McCracken, 43, of Kelso, is also being referred to prosecutors for consideration of the charges of unlawful possession of marijuana and unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, according to police.

Police estimate the street value of the seized marijuana at $84,000.

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Ten mature marijuana plants grow in a Kelso backyard. / Courtesy photo by Centralia Police Department

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, September 15, 2014 at 10:28 pm

FIRE, FIRE, FIRE

• Firefighters were called about 5 p.m. yesterday to the 100 block of Shiloh Road in Winlock for a grass fire of approximately 100 feet by 100 feet. An individual was using a riding mower when something ignited the dry grass, which also burned up the mower, according to Lewis County Fire District 15. “It could have been anything from a spark, to grass getting on the mower deck,” Firefighter Patrick Jacobson said. Nobody was hurt, no structures were damaged, he said.

• A building on the 200 block of Northwest Chehalis Avenue was evacuated about 1 o’clock this morning after smoke filled a restaurant on the ground floor and an apartment on the second floor. Arriving firefighters found smoke but no flames as the owner had put it out, Chehalis Fire Department Capt. Casey Beck said It was likely a wiring issue located in the void between the two floors, Beck said.

• Firefighters were called to George Washington Park on Pearl Street in Centralia about 5:20 p.m. yesterday where a police officer had used a fire extinguisher on a burning garbage can. The wooden container was destroyed, some bushes were burned and the side of the park’s gazebo was charred, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

• Thurston County Fire District 12 was called to a brush fire in a vacant lot along side the road at Crowder Street and Southwest 184th Avenue in Tenino on Saturday night.

BURGLARY AND THEFT

• A wedding ring and other jewelry were reported stolen in a residential burglary at the 2200 block of Graf Road in Centralia that occurred sometime between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. yesterday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The loss to the 74-year-old victim is estimated at $2,500, according to the sheriff’s office.

• Tools and computer parts were stolen from a garage on the 1000 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to police about 10:15 p.m. yesterday. The lock had been pried off, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Centralia police were called about 10:25 a.m. yesterday to the 200 block of Latona Street where a garage had been burglarized. Tools were missing, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Centralia police took a report on Saturday morning from the 100 block of West Bridge Street regarding tools stolen from a home.

• An individual who left a couch behind at the 1200 block of Long Street in Centralia while he moved to another residence called police about 6:10 p.m. yesterday to report the piece of furniture disappeared.

• A trail cam was recovered from a Dodge Durango impounded when deputies investigated its theft on Friday afternoon from the 100 block of Anderson Road in Glenoma. A deputy responding to the call about 4:30 p.m. noticed the vehicle in the area and saw a male take off running into the woods, according to the sheriff’s office. Chantelle Morgan, 27, of Mossyrock, who was sitting in the passenger seat said they were out for a drive, but revealed she had methamphetamine in her pocket, the sheriff’s office reports. She was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for possession of meth, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. Deputies are looking for a 27-year-old Randle man believed to have been with her, according to Brown.

• Morton police reported today they took a report that someone stole a large barbecue from the porch of a residence on the 400 block of Seventh Street last weekend. The item is worth about $300, according to the Morton Police Department.

• A 66-year-old Chehalis woman called police on Saturday afternoon when she discovered her wallet was missing from her bag while shopping at Wal-Mart. Someone used her bank card to withdraw $206 from a nearby ATM, according to Chehalis Police Department.

• Police arrested a 22-year-old Centralia man around 1 o’clock this morning when he was allegedly found with a stolen car at the 2800 block of Mount Vista Road in Centralia. Levi G. Pickett was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree possession of stolen property but he was released with no charges filed, pending further investigation. Greg S. Schroeder, 28 of Centralia, was booked on an outstanding warrant during the same incident, according to the Centralia Police Department.

PERSISTANT CALLER

• A 66-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for telephone harassment about 6:20 a.m. yesterday for allegedly repeatedly calling 911 and hanging up. Alma R. Mahar was then released, pending court, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• A purse was taken from a vehicle during the night at the 500 block of South Iron Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday.

• Chehalis police were called about 11:20 p.m. on Saturday to the 700 block of Liberty Place where an employee reported that sometime since 3 p.m., someone got into her vehicle and stole several CDs and her motor vehicle documents.

• An unlocked vehicle was prowled during the night at the 500 block of Davis Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police on Saturday morning.

• Someone took a backpack containing hunting gear from the bed of a pickup truck while it was parked briefly outside a business on the 100 block of Second Street in Morton around lunchtime last Tuesday, according to the Morton Police Department.

ASSAULT

• Centralia police report they assisted the Lacey Police Department on Friday morning in locating and apprehending a suspect wanted for assaulting a Lacey officer the night before. Andrew P. Anderson, 39, from Olympia, was booked into the Thurston County Jail after contact with officers about 11 a.m. Friday at the 1000 block of Eckerson Road in Centralia,  according to the Centralia Police Department.

VANDALISM

• A 40-year-old Chehalis man was arrested yesterday for allegedly throwing a rock through the window of a business on the 200 block of North Pearl Street in Centralia. Edward B. Clifford was booked into the Lewis County Jail for third-degree malicious mischief, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police arrested an individual yesterday afternoon after getting a report of a male breaking a window at the 100 block of Northwest Chehalis Avenue about 3:30 p.m.  Anthony M. Parkins, 33, from Winlock and / or Chehalis, was intoxicated and ended up with a minor cut on his hand when he allegedly punched the glass at the Eugenia Center, a drug and alcohol treatment facility, according to police. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail  for third-degree malicious mischief, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

COLLISIONS

• Lewis County Fire District 5 assisted with setting up a landing zone at Fantasy Field on Forest-Napavine Road East on Friday evening when a man was airlifted after an ATV accident off Allen Road near Onalaska.

• A 20-year-old Chehalis man sustained minor injuries when he swerved to miss a deer and lost control of his vehicle about 10 p.m. yesterday on the 400 block of Jorgensen Road in Onalaska, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. His 1995 GMC K2500 was totaled, according to the sheriff’s office. The driver was cited for not having insurance, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

• A 29-year-old Morton woman was cited for second-degree negligent driving and no insurance after she collided with another car and rolled hers as many as three times on Saturday afternoon at Gore and Leonard roads in Ethel. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports she was westbound and looking at the GPS on her windshield and continued through a stop sign at around 5 p.m. Both the Hyundai Sonata and the 75-year-old Onalaska woman’s Buick Lacrosse were totaled, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. Brown said everyone had been wearing seat belts, but both women plus a pair of 9-year-olds were transported to Providence Centralia Hospital with minor injuries. Lewis County Fire District 8 said three patients were transported.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license, violation of court order; responses for alarms, disputes, misdemeanor theft, collision on city street, loud neighbor music, suspicious circumstances … and more.

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News brief: Drowning victim recovered from Lake Mayfield

Monday, September 15, 2014 at 3:51 pm
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Deputies with Lewis County and with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team conduct recovery operation today on Lake Mayfield. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

Updated at 4:09 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The body of the 51-year-old Winlock man who vanished after jumping into the water from a bluff two weeks ago was pulled from Lake Mayfield today.

Dive team members from Thurston County assisted Lewis County sheriff’s deputies this morning, using a submersible camera device and found him between a cliff wall and a log, 65 feet below the surface, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

He was about 25 feet from where he was last seen, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

The victim’s name has not been released.

Brown said there was no sign of foul play, but an autopsy will be conducted later this week.

A short search was launched the afternoon of Sept. 2 near the boat launch at Ike Kinswa State Park after the man’s friend called to report they had jumped into the lake and the 51-year-old didn’t resurface.

The cliff was described as 30 feet above the water.

The 43-year-old Mossyrock area man told deputies he’d spent about an hour searching the lake bank for his friend and then went home.

Deputies began today’s operation at 9 o’clock this morning and located the body at 12:20 p.m., according to Brown. He was removed within the hour, she states in a news release.

Ike Kinswa is off state Route 122, which runs around the north side of the lake, in between Silver Creek and Mossyrock.
•••

For background, read “Man who jumped into Lake Mayfield yesterday presumed drowned” from Wednesday Sept. 3, 2014, here

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News brief: Mailbox explosion ignited small forest fire in Adna

Monday, September 15, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Updated at 9:06 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports this morning it is investigating a third-degree malicious mischief in Adna, where someone blew up a mailbox and started a small forest fire early yesterday.

Deputies learned that around 4 a.m. two neighbors in the area of the 600 block of Brockway Road near Lanakila Lane heard an explosion and then the sound of either a truck or an ATV with a loud exhaust speeding away, according to the sheriff’s office.

A neighbor arriving home at 4:30 a.m. discovered the flames which had spread to trees and brush and covered an area of about 100 feet by 50 feet, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

Firefighters from two departments responded, and put out the fire, described as burning grass and trees on a long private driveway and not threatening any structures; they finished their work about 7 a.m., according to Lewis County Fire Districts 6.

Brown said the fire was quickly extinguished and two mailboxes were damaged by an unknown explosive incendiary device or a firework.

The victims are a 59-year-old man and a 74-year-old woman, according to the sheriff’s office. Brown said the loss is $20.

Personnel from the state Department of Natural Resources are investigating, according to Brown.

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Empty, unoccupied Toledo-area home burns

Monday, September 15, 2014 at 12:45 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A vacant 1960s-era house near the airport in Toledo was heavily damaged by an overnight fire.

Its cause is under investigation.

Crews were called about 11:45 p.m. to what was initially suspected to be a brush fire in a field at the 200 block of Spencer Road, according to Lewis County Fire District 2.

Approximately 25 firefighters from three districts battled the blaze, which appeared to have started in the garage, Fire Chief Wiltbank said.

“I didn’t know it was a garage, I thought it was carport, there was so little left of it,” Wiltbank said.

Flames spread through the grass and also burned a small garden shed, he said.

The chief said the rambler is owned by a family trust of a man who is deceased and has been for sale for at least the past couple of years.

The home was unfurnished and empty, but crews were on the scene for about two and a half hours because they had to remove the sheetrock of the vaulted ceiling piece by piece.

“It was a tough, tough job,” he said. “Everyone was very tired when they got done with it.”

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Dry vegetation keeps fire crews hopping

Sunday, September 14, 2014 at 10:16 pm
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Firefighters with DNR could see a smoke column from a Toledo fire on Herriford Road all the way in Castle Rock and responded to assist. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 2.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Firefighters were called about 4:30 a.m. today when flames were seen on a long residential driveway in Adna.

They were into the trees and crawling up some stumps, burning an area of about 100 feet by 50 feet, according to Lewis County Fire District 6.

The fire on the 600 block of Brockway Road is under investigation by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, Firefighter Mike Goodwillie said.

Personnel from Lewis County Fire District 5 assisted, he said.

Goodwillie said there were a couple of minor injuries from falls, from working to extinguish the fire on the steep bank in the dark.

Meanwhile, a fire yesterday afternoon that burned as many as four acres of a field of grain south of Toledo appeared to have ignited from farm equipment working on the property at the time.

Crews from Toledo, Winlock, and Vader as well as two brush units with the state Department of Natural Resources which saw the smoke column from Castle Rock encountered a wind-driven fire but brought it under control within a half hour after their arrival, according to Lewis County Fire District 2.

It was reported about 4:30 p.m. at the 100 block of Herriford Road, according to Chief Grant Wiltbank.

And DNR reported this morning the large forest fire five miles southwest of Pe Ell is covering 117 acres but is 30 percent contained.

The blaze is burning in recently harvested timber, slash and mature timber on property owned by Rayonier. More than 200 individuals have been battling it.

The plan for today was to build and complete containment lines, according to DNR spokesperson Nick Cronquist.

The Fork Peak fire reported on Thursday evening is in Pacific County, at the Lewis County line. Its cause remains under investigation, according to Cronquist.

“The 2014 fire season is not over,” Cronquist stated in a morning memo. “With temperatures remaining high and no significant weather in the forecast, be mindful of areas around your home with potential of fire risk.”

In the Salkum area, the fire chief has this message for the public today: “The burn ban is still on,” Lewis County Fire District 8 Chief Duran McDaniel said.

McDaniel said he and other fire chiefs continue to get late night calls for bon fires not in approved receptacles.

•••

For background, see ” ‘Really big’ wildfire spreading southwest of Pe Ell” from Friday Sept. 12, 2014 at 9:15 p.m., here

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The Fork Peak fire in eastern Pacific County is 30 percent contained this morning. / Courtesy photo by Mary Huels, DNR

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A helicopter drops water on the Fork Peak Fire southwest of Pe Ell. / Courtesy photo by Mary Huels, DNR

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News brief: Two hurt in Cinebar motorcycle versus vehicle accident

Sunday, September 14, 2014 at 10:37 am

Updated

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 52-year-old man from Tacoma was injured when his Harley Davidson ran into the passenger side of an oncoming vehicle that turned in front of him on state Route 508 in Cinebar yesterday afternoon.

Troopers called to the scene about 3:50 p.m. concluded the eastbound Buick Enclave was making a left turn onto Panisco Road; its driver was uninjured, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Gregory J. Stewart, of Tacoma however was transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, according to the state patrol. Stewart is listed in serious condition this morning.

His passenger, Elsie A. Thomas, 50, also from Tacoma, was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital where she was treated and then transferred to an unspecified hospital.

The driver of the 2014 Buick, Leonard E. Corbett, 58, from Bellevue, was to be issued a citation for failure to yield the right-of-way, according to the state patrol.

Lewis County Fire District 8 Chief Duran McDaniel said he and his passenger were evaluated by medics. Their airbags had deployed and the side of the vehicle was pushed in probably about six inches, he said.

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Five hurt, one dead after multiple motorcycle wreck near Pe Ell

Sunday, September 14, 2014 at 9:50 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A motorcycle accident on state Route 6 near Pe Ell yesterday killed one and injured five other motorcyclists, shutting the roadway for hours.

Troopers called just after 2 p.m. to the scene four miles west of town found a group of about 20 motorcyclists had begun their ride in Cowlitz County, ridden a loop on Highway 101 and were heading back toward Chehalis when it happened.

Members of two fire departments and medics with AMR responded to treat the patients, one of which was airlifted from the school, according to Lewis County Fire District 11 Chief Michael Krafczyk.

According to the Washington State Patrol, it began when Shawn M. Jessee, 41, of Longview, failed to negotiate a left-hand curve, lost control of his Honda VTX180 on the gravel shoulder and hit the guardrail. He and his passenger Teresa F. Jessee, 47, of Longview, were both ejected but his bike headed back into the eastbound lane where it was struck by another motorcyclist.

That rider, Ronald L. Carr, 56, of Castle Rock, was ejected.

A third motorcyclist, Cheryl F. Palm, 50, also of Castle Rock, lost control, landed on the roadway and was hit by a fourth bike, according to the state patrol.

Krafczyk said firefighters started CPR on Teresa F. Jessee, but arriving medics pronounced her dead at the scene.

Responders from Lewis County Fire District 16 set up a landing zone at the Pe Ell school, and Palm was flown to Oregon Health and Sciences University Hospital, according to responders.

All were wearing helmets, Trooper Terry Brunstad said.

The state Department of Transportation shut down the highway, for about five hours while troopers conducted their investigation, Brunstad said. There was nowhere to create a detour, he said.

“The road was just littered with bikes and parts,” Brunstad said.

A spokesperson for Providence Centralia Hospital said this morning that Shawn M. Jessee was treated and has been released. Carr was treated and transferred to an unspecified hospital, spokesperson Chris Thomas said.

The man and woman from Clatskanie traveling on the fourth motorcycle were injured but not hospitalized, and their Harley Davidson was able to be driven from the scene, according to the state patrol.

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News brief: Fork Peak Fire near Pe Ell 25 percent contained

Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 10:40 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Fire officials describe the forest fire near Pe Ell as 25 percent contained this morning, with 200 personnel still actively working.

The Fork Peak fire reported on Thursday evening is burning on private timberland owned by Rayonier, about five miles southwest of Pe Ell. It’s in Pacific County, at the Lewis County line.

“The fire activity at this time is smoldering with brief runs with moderate spread potential,” the Department of Natural Resources states in its morning update. “Smoke will be visible from the town of Pe Ell and adjacent communities.”

Crews today will be scouting and developing locations for containment lines, according to DNR spokesperson Nick Cronquist.

Its incident command center is located at the Falls Creek Retreat Center about 10 miles west of Pe Ell.

DNR is advising the public avoid to Elks Creek Road, A-Line and Forks Creek Road near the fire area to help firefighters in minimizing any potential hazards.

•••

For background, see ” ‘Really big’ wildfire spreading southwest of Pe Ell” from Friday Sept. 12, 2014 at 9:15 p.m., here

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“Really big” wildfire spreading southwest of Pe Ell

Friday, September 12, 2014 at 9:15 pm
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A fixed-wing plane flies over the wildfire at the Pacific-Lewis county line. / Courtesy photo by Mary Huels, DNR

Updated at 9:33 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A forest fire burning southwest of Pe Ell has drawn some 200 individuals who have set up camp for the night at the Falls Creek Retreat Center about 10 miles west of town in Pacific County.

The fire was reported at 5:15 p.m. yesterday and is on private timberland owned by Rayonier.

“Right now it’s all industrial timberland, not a large threat to any homes or personal property,” Nick Cronquist, a spokesperson for the state Department of Natural Resources said this evening.

Late this afternoon, flames had run over some 93 acres, according to Cronquist. It doubled in size overnight.

“It’s really big for this neck of the woods,” he said. “It boils down to the weather we’re having.”

Seven fire engines, eight water tenders and 13 hand crews battled the blaze today, along with three helicopters, plus a fixed wing plane which is supervising all the aircraft, he said. It’s zero percent contained.

The firefighters come from local area fire districts, DNR and even some from the National Forest Service, he said.

A tanker which would fill its belly with water from Willapa Bay was ordered, but Cronquist said he didn’t know if it got any runs in before the sun went down.

The smoke and glow are within eye site of the town of Pe Ell, at the far west end of Lewis County, he said.

A crew from the Larch Correctional Facility brought a kitchen in, he said.

The National Weather Service began warning earlier this week that an expected combination of low humidity and east winds would cause vegetation to dry out, making conditions ripe for wild fires.

Lewis County Fire District 11 Chief Michael Krafczyk was among those who gathered this morning at the VFW Hall in Pe Ell to strategize for the day. District 11 provided water support today.

The fire is under the command of DNR’s Pacific Cascade Region.

Nobody has been injured, Cronquist said, but winds yesterday evening caused them to pull crews off the fire.

No night operations were planned, but two engines will monitor the fire, he said.

A morning briefing is planned for 6 a.m., and they’ll get back at it, he said.

•••

CORRECTION: This news story has been updated to correctly reflect the number of hand crews working the fire today.

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Local fire departments join crews from DNR battling wildfire at the Pacific-Lewis county line. / Courtesy photo by Mary Huels, DNR

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Courtesy image Department of Natural Resources