Archive for the ‘News briefs’ Category

Twenty-one picked up in Lewis County warrant sweep

Friday, October 20th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Deputies with the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and troopers from the Washington State Patrol served 21 warrants yesterday as part of an annual event focused on outstanding domestic violence warrants.

Law enforcement officers yesterday made 111 service attempts, resulting in four felony warrant arrests and 17 misdemeanor arrests.

While the main focus of the sweep was domestic violence warrants, other non-domestic violence warrants were also attempted, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

“This event demonstrates the strong partnerships between Lewis County law enforcement, the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office and the courts,” Sheriff Robert Snaza stated in a press release. “Through this successful sweep we were able to increase public safety, while holding those accountable who break the law.”

The Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office, Lewis County District Court and the court-contracted defense attorney were also involved, and were instrumental in the efficiency of the operation, according to the press release.

The collaborative sweep was part of the 15th Annual National Domestic Violence Warrant Sweep

News brief: Downtown Morton building fire extinguished quickly

Friday, October 20th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Firefighters were called about 6:45 p.m. yesterday to what turned out to be a small fire in downtown Morton.

Fire investigator Ted McCarty said the restaurant next door noticed some smoke from the denture clinic on the 200 block of Main Avenue.

Crews found a little fire in one of the offices, McCarty said.

“It didn’t do a lot of damage structure-wise, but there was smoke damage,” he said. “District 4 firefighters, they did a great job and kept it confined.”

The building, with apartments on the upper level, was built in the 1920s, according to McCarty.

His investigation is ongoing, but the fire didn’t appear suspicious, he said.

News brief: Local fire crews travel to fight California fires

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Three firefighters and an engine from Lewis County Fire District 5 headed out early yesterday morning with a strike team to help with the California wildfires.

District 5 Lt. Laura Hanson said she wasn’t sure exactly where they would would be deployed to.

They are among 193 firefighters from 45 fire departments and districts across Washington which will combine into nine strike teams, according to Washington Emergency Management Director Robert Ezelle. A tenth strike team was to be sent out later yesterday.

As of Thursday, as many as 18 fires were burning in nine counties with an estimated 20,000 people evacuated, primarily in Northern California, according to Washington Emergency Management.

“The assistance comes after many of these fire districts have battled wildfires in our own state,” Washington Emergency Management stated.

From the Tenino area fire department, four firefighters headed south to help, Thurston County Fire District 12 Administrative Chief Tina Vanderhoof said. West Thurston Regional Fire Authority is among those listed who have also sent personnel to assist.

Last night, District 5 posted on Facebook that the strike team was safely in place in California and would be assigned today to work in Sonoma or East Napa counties

News brief: Chehalis resident unhurt in deadly Wapato crash

Friday, October 13th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  A 23-year-old Chehalis man survived reportedly uninjured a two-vehicle wreck this morning that left the other driver dead in Yakima County.

Sean M. Teeter, 23, of Chehalis, was traveling southbound on state Route 97 in a GMC Sierra pickup when an oncoming Jeep turned left and they collided, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The pickup struck the 1995 Jeep Cherokee in the intersection, ejecting its driver, according to the state patrol.

Troopers called to the scene on state Route 97 at Jones Road just north of Wapato at 6:25 a.m. report the injured driver, 23-year-old Julio Gonzalez of Wapato, was transported to Regional Medical Center and died.

Both vehicles were totaled.

Teeter’s passenger, 48-year-old Steven L. Saunders, also of Wapato, was injured and transported to Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital, according to the patrol.

Teeter and Saunders had been wearing seat belts, but Gonzalez was not, the investigating trooper reports.

The crash was blamed on failure to yield the right of way and no charges are expected.

Missing elderly assisted living facility resident found outdoors, safe

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An elderly woman reported missing from a Chehalis  assisted living facility was located about a block away hunkered down outside a church, cold but otherwise in good health and spirits, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

Hilda Wenz, 92, was last seen at midnight at the Chehalis West Assisted Living Center on  Northwest Quincy Place. Police were notified at 8 o’clock this morning she was missing.

Department spokesperson Linda Bailey said Wenz was found at approximately 11:17 a.m. tucked in a little cubby place outside the church on the corner of Northwest West Street and Northwest Rhode Island Avenue.

Bailey said she did not know what time the woman left the facility, but residents are not locked in there.

“I don’t know she knows where she was, really,” Bailey said.

Chehalis police issued a Silver Alert and were going door to door this morning searching. They were assisted by employees from the city’s public works department, parks and recreation department and a sheriff’s deputy, Bailey said.

Wenz was checked by medics and taken back home, Bailey said.

Lewis County 911 lines experiencing difficulties

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Updated at 6:32 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Chehalis and Centralia are experiencing phone outages and the Lewis County 911 line is experiencing difficulties.

Lewis County Department of Emergency Management Manager Steve Mansfield said shortly after 5 p.m. they are working on the situation.


At 5:50 p.m., Mansfield advised they were switched to a back up system, so that when a person calls 911 here, their call will be answered at the Thurston County 911 center and the information relayed back to Lewis County dispatchers.

During the approximately one hour, people could only reach the local dispatchers by calling their non-emergency phone number, using certain cell phones.

Some landlines in Chehalis and Centralia are out of service. It’s not clear how widespread the issue is.

Mansfield said he understands a fiber cable got cut somewhere, and it could be six to eight hours until it is repaired.

Citizens no longer need to call 360-740-1105 for assistance.

The Lewis County dispatch center asks citizens to call 911 for emergencies only and not for routine calls.


News brief: Tuesday deemed “Police K-9 Lobo Appreciation Day” for retiree

Monday, September 25th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  The Centralia Police Department announced today the retirement of K-9 Lobo, after seven years with the city.



The German Shepherd is leaving the department as of the end of the month due to an unforeseen medical condition, according to a press release.

Lobo joined the department in June 2010 at age 1 and completed his certification that December. He is partnered with Officer Ruben Ramirez, a 16-year veteran of the department.

He will be honored at tomorrow’s Centralia City Council meeting. Tomorrow is deemed “Police K-9 Lobo Appreciation Day”, according to detective Patty Finch.

During his career, Lobo was deployed 197 times for various kinds of searches and tracking, making successful captures of people 84 times, according to Finch.

The police dog didn’t become certified to detect narcotics until May 2016, but has assisted in the seizure of approximately $100,000 in drug related cash, according to Finch. Lobo’s most notable “sniff” was 24 pounds of methamphetamine, concealed in a gas tank of a vehicle, Finch stated.

The police dog has participated in 24 public demonstrations throughout the community.

Finch states that while Lobo cannot be replaced, the department is seeking to  purchase another K9 and appoint another K9 handler. Officer Ramirez is one of two who have applied, according to Finch.

The Centralia Police Department K-9 program is funded by donations from the public.

News brief: Centralia man dead following crash near Pe Ell

Friday, September 22nd, 2017


By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  A 68-year-old Centralia man is dead after a single-vehicle wreck this morning on state Route 6 one mile west of Pe Ell.

Troopers called at 10:40 a.m. report Leonard D. Bridges was deceased at the scene.

Bridges was traveling westbound when his truck left the roadway to the right and struck some brush before re-entering the roadway and coming to rest blocking the westbound lane, according to the Washington State Patrol

His Ford Ranger pickup truck was described as totaled, but he had been wearing a seat belt, according to the state patrol. Bridges’ next-of-kin has been notified by the Lewis County Coroner’s Office, according to the investigating trooper.

Trooper Will Finn stated that all lanes were blocked near milepost 27, but the highway was cleared just about 3 p.m., according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The cause of the collision is under investigation.

News brief: Adna barn burns

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Fire breaks out on Curtis Hill Road. / Courtesy photo by Jill Reese

Updated at 5:30 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Firefighters called about 3:45 p.m. yesterday for a structure fire at the 100 block of Curtis Hill Road in Adna found an approximately 40-foot by 30-foot barn fully involved in flames and closed the road in both directions for about an hour.

DJ Hammer of Lewis County Fire District 6 says crews had the blaze under control within about seven minutes, but the building, its contents and a small chicken coop were destroyed. A tractor, farm tools and equipment had been stored in the barn, he said.

Approximately five chickens perished.

A nearby pump-house sustained heavy fire and smoke damage, according to Hammer.

District 6 was joined by the Chehalis Fire Department, District 5 and District 13.

One firefighter from District 6 was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital for an exposure to an unknown chemical during the mopping up phase, according to Hammer. The firefighter was treated and released back to duty, Hammer said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.


Crew puts out hot spots. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 6

News brief: Campfires still banned in Lewis County, for now

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – With rain and cooler temperatures easing fire danger across Washington, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources is lifting restrictions on recreational campfires.

Effective 12:01 a.m. today, campfires will be allowed in approved fire pits in designated campgrounds on Washington lands protected by DNR.

Because forests and rangelands remain dry from the summer’s low precipitation totals, other forms of outdoor burning, such as debris burning, remain prohibited under the burn ban ordered by Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.

“We’re thankful to have rain help wet our landscapes, but as we saw with a quick-moving fire east of Ellensburg Sunday evening, we’re not out of fire season quite yet,” Franz stated in a press release. “I urge everyone to check with their local authorities before lighting campfires.”

Earlier this month, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest announced it was banning not only campfires, but also smoking throughout the forest until there is significant moisture to lower the fire danger.

Lewis County enacted a total outdoor burn ban at the beginning of August, which it plans to keep in place until further notice.

The prohibition on campfires is still in effect, and local fire departments are awaiting a decision from area fire chiefs as to when it might be lifted, Lewis County Fire District 5 Lt. Laura Hanson said today.

Lewis County Fire District 8 Chief Duran McDaniel said yesterday that even though we’ve gotten some rain, local officials won’t make a change until they determine it’s safe to do so.

News brief: Firefighters Fill the Boot to fight muscular dystrophy

Saturday, September 16th, 2017


By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Firefighters from IAFF Locals 451 and 2510 will be collecting donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association through the annual “Fill the Boot” campaign at two different locations in the Twin Cities this weekend.

They can be found today between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the intersection of Belmont Avenue and Haviland Street near the Centralia Outlet’s mall in Centralia.

The campaign is sponsored jointly by International Association of Fire Fighters Local 451, which represents firefighters from Riverside Fire Authority and Lewis County Fire District Six and IAFF 2510, which represents the city of Chehalis firefighters.

The MDA is a voluntary health agency founded in 1950 to fight 43 neuromuscular diseases, including ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, which affect millions of Americans.

Tomorrow, also between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., the firefighters can be found  in the parking lot of the Chehalis Starbucks at 1531 Northwest Louisiana Avenue in Chehalis.

News brief: Fire breaks out at Centralia home

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

Flames and smoke rise off Harrison Avenue. / Courtesy photo by Isaac Alexander

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Centralia residence was heavily damaged by fire overnight and while nobody was home at the time, the occupants are displaced, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

Firefighters called about 1 .m. to the 3300 block of Harrison Avenue extinguished fire on the porch and then entered through a back door to continue putting the fire out, according to Fire Capt. Scott Weinert.

A search of the interior confirmed nobody was inside, according to Weinert.

The fire captain estimates the loss of the home at $60,000 and then another $25,000 for its contents. He described it as a single-wide mobile home with wood siding.

The cause is under investigation.

Winlock barn, Centralia brush burn in separate fires

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The preliminary area of focus is electrical for an investigation of a fire that broke out last night in a Winlock area barn, according to Lewis County Fire District 15.

Crews were called about 8:30 p.m. to the 200 block of Sargent Road where a homeowner had been scrambling to save what he could from a small barn used for hay and other storage, according to Assistant Chief Kevin Anderson.

The fire there was described as fully involved, threatening two larger buildings and spreading to vegetation, Anderson said.

An engine from District 15 and a second engine from DIstrict 5 arrived simultaneously, within seven minutes of dispatch. They were joined by personnel from District 2 and also Cowlitz-Lewis 20, for a total of about 25 firefighters.

“The guys did a great job of showing up pretty quick,” Anderson said.

The home owner was treated at the scene for a breathing-related issue.

Anderson said the second building was a larger barn containing fire wood and farm equipment and is still standing, but will likely be a total loss.

The largest structure, a shop which held the highest value of contents, sustained exterior damage only, he said.

Anderson said the area around the buildings was short cut grass, so the spread into any other vegetation was slowed.

Personnel were on the scene for the better part of three hours, he said.

Earlier in the day, farther north in Lewis County, firefighters extinguished a brush fire on Nix Lane outside of Centralia.

A crew dispatched at 3:24 p.m. found an approximately 150 foot by 50 foot brush fire with flames moving towards nearby structures, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

They were able to contain the fire to the original area and put it out, according to RFA.

Fire Lt. Jesse Berry reports several nearby electrical meter bases were damaged.

The scene was turned over to the state Department of Natural Resources and the fire’s cause is under investigation.


Nix Lane, Centralia. / Courtesy photo by Riverside Fire Authority

Campfires still prohibited, though many are lighting up anyway

Monday, August 28th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Salkum area Fire Chief Duran McDaniel says some members of the public are not paying attention to the burn ban.

“It’s only going to take one spark,” McDaniel said today as he lamented the number of people over the weekend lighting bon fires, even though they are currently prohibited in Lewis County because of the very dry vegetation.


Just last week, a riding lawn mower ignited a grass fire on Tucker Road, which took a crew of about 20 people to extinguish and hold to two acres. It happened the same day a fire broke out in Rochester that spread over more than 400 acres, destroying two homes and other property.

“I was out Saturday night and we put out six campfires, and that was just in District 8,” McDaniel said. “Five of those were in Mayfield Village.”

McDaniel said his neighbors at fire departments in Onalaska and rural Chehalis were out doing the same thing.

Most of the people he contacted, and watched extinguish their campfires, told him they didn’t know about the ban, he said.

McDaniel said fire conditions here in Lewis County are identical to those in Rochester.

Not only is it dangerous, but it could be costly for a person who starts a wildfire, he said.

“If DNR comes out, it’s a bill to the landowner,” he said.

A red flag warning is in place in most of East Lewis County through tomorrow night, due to very hot, dry and unstable conditions mostly above 1,500 feet.

News brief: Winlock teen on bike injured in wreck

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An 18-year-old bicyclist was airlifted after a collision yesterday involving a sport utility vehicle on a county road northeast of Winlock.

Deputies dispatched about 11:55 a.m. to the 600 block of Park Road report the Winlock resident appeared to have a broken leg and other injuries, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

He was flown to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver where he remains in stable condition, according to the sheriff’s office.

The vehicle involved was not at the scene when deputies arrived and the sheriff’s office is seeking the public’s help in locating it.

The “vehicle of interest” is described as an older green SUV, similar to a Ford Explorer, according to Chief Deputy Dusty Breen.

Breen asks anyone with information on the incident or the vehicle to contact he Lewis County Sheriff’s Office at 360-748-9286, or Lewis County Communications at 360-740-1105.

News brief: Man airlifted to Seattle after Silver Creek stabbing

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 56-year-old man is jailed after allegedly stabbing someone visiting him and his significant other in Silver Creek last night.

Deputies called just after 9 p.m. to the 100 block of Huntting Road learned there was no dispute or fight beforehand, but that Claude E. Royals became offended by the actions of his visitor and stabbed him in the chest area, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The victim, a 43-year-old Lacey man, was taken to Morton General Hospital by the significant other, where was stabilized and then flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, sheriff’s Chief Deputy Dusty Breen said.

Royals was arrested for first-degree assault and booked into the Lewis County Jail, Breen said. He is tentatively scheduled to go before a judge this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

The victim’s condition as of this morning was stable, according to Breen.

News brief: Four hurt in wreck with dump truck

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

North Pearl Street at Reynolds Avenue. / Courtesy photo by Riverside Fire Authority

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Three children and a woman were injured when a van and dump truck collided in north Centralia this morning.

Firefighters and police were called about 7:30 a.m. to the scene at North Pearl Street and Reynolds Avenue.

The woman was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in serious condition, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

The others were transported to the emergency room, RFA tweeted.

Coroner McLeod, staff reaching out to save babies lives

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County Corner’s Office has gone ahead and entered into a partnership with an organization dedicated to preventing infant deaths due to unsafe sleeping environments.

Coroner Warren McLeod wants to spread the word that the safest way for a baby to sleep is alone, on their backs, in a bare, safety-approved crib.

Thousands of such deaths occur each year across the country, the vast majority are accidental and nearly three-quarters are attributed to bed sharing, according to McLeod.

McLeod said while he saw this type of death many times when he worked in Nevada, he encountered it for the first time in Lewis County this spring, when a 3-month-old girl suffocated sleeping with her mother. It can happen as easily as something as light as a kleenex falling over the mouth and nose, he said.

The coroner’s office is now partnered with Cribs for Kids National Infant Safe Sleep Initiative, headquartered in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

The coroner’s endeavor will include teaching new parents and caregivers about safe sleep practices as well as working to get cribs into the hands of new parents who cannot afford them.

McLeod is making representatives from his office available to speak to civic groups about the initiative and how they can make donations.

Since 1998, Cribs for Kids has been reducing the rate of infant sleep-related deaths by educating parents and by providing portable cribs to families who otherwise cannot afford a safe place for their babies to sleep. All education is based on the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for infant sleep safety.

The cost of a crib, including shipping, is $60.

McLeod’s goal is to raise money to have enough of the portable cribs on hand so that local law enforcement and fire departments can reach out to his office when they come across a parent who can’t afford a safe sleeping environment.

Babies should never sleep on a couch, armchair or soft surface, according to  the American Academy of Pediatrics. And bed sharing remains the greatest risk factor for sleep related infant deaths, the AAP states.

The 2016 updated recommendations on infant sleep safety from AAP draw on new research and include:

• Place the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet.

• Avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. The crib should be bare.

• Share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns one but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.

• Avoid baby’s exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.

For background, read “Centralia infant exposed to meth smoke died of something different” from Friday July 7, 2017, here