Archive for the ‘News briefs’ Category

News brief: Former Chehalis Tribal official sentenced for defrauding housing program

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The former head of the Chehalis Tribal Housing Authority was sentenced yesterday to 30 days in jail and two years of supervised release following his conviction for collecting downpayment assistance from the authority knowing he didn’t qualify because he already owned a home.

Hector Ray Canales, Sr., 55, had pleaded guilty to conversion of tribal funds in May, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington.

At Monday’s sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton in Tacoma said Canales had betrayed the trust of his tribe, according to office spokesperson Emily Langlie.

According to records filed in the case, Canales engaged in a “sham” transaction to transfer his existing ownership to a relative, so that he could collect $37,400 from the program which he used to pay for a second home in the Chehalis area.

Langlie stated that Canales used his position in the tribe and his knowledge of the internal fiscal controls to illegally collect the down payment funds. The fraud meant that other eligible Chehalis Tribal members did not get down payment assistance, Langlie stated.

Canales was the chairman of the board of the  Chehalis Tribal Housing Authority.

The case was investigated by the Chehalis Tribal Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The judge ordered him to pay $37,400 in restitution. Canales has since repaid just over $24,000 to the tribe.

News brief: Forest fire visible from Rochester, Tumwater contained

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Members of West Thurston Regional Fire Authority are assisting with water support this morning as firefighters with the state Department of Natural Resources mop up after a blaze in the Capitol Forest that grew to about three acres.

Crews were dispatched about 9:40 p.m. yesterday on reports a large fire could be seen from Rochester and Tumwater, according to Fire Chief Robert Scott.

“Crews arrived to find the fire located off the 8200 Road north of Capitol Peak near the Noshka area,” Scott stated in a news release. “The fire was initially one and a half acres in heavy logging slash and grew to approximately three acres before containment.”

Local firefighters worked the scene until the early morning hours and turned it over to DNR, according to Scott.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. There were no injuries reported.

Centralia resident booked for allegedly shooting at moving truck on Main Street

Monday, August 29th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Police believe a 27-year-old man fired a shot from a gas station parking lot at a passing vehicle on Main Street, which missed but may have lodged in a building across the street early yesterday morning in Chehalis.

Officers were called to the report of a shooting about 3:20 a.m. yesterday, located the suspect truck and stopped it at the 400 block of North Market Boulevard, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

Department spokesperson Linda Bailey said the motive is unclear but police are interviewing the occupants of the targeted vehicle and have arrested the passenger of the suspect vehicle.

He is Matthew W. Harader, age 27, of Centralia, according to police. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree assault and for possession of methamphetamine.

The driver of the truck he was in, an adult male, was not arrested, Bailey said.

Officers believe Harder fired from the parking lot of the 76 gas station at the 600 block of Main Street, according to Bailey. No injuries were reported, according to Bailey.

The case is still under investigation, but Harder is tentatively scheduled to go before a judge this afternoon to face criminal charges.

Read about optimism for Thurston Sheriff Snaza’s long road to recovery …

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza remains in critical condition following the motorcycle accident that left him with a punctured lung, a lacerated kidney, a severely broken left arm and a damaged right hand.

Snaza underwent surgery Wednesday to fuse a bone in his neck.


Sheriff John Snaza

Undersheriff Tim Braniff said at a press conference yesterday afternoon the 51-year-old is strong and “he’ll be back, according to Olympian news reporter Amelia Dickson.

The sheriff’s office informed the public on Wednesday morning they learned Snaza the evening before was involved in a single-vehicle accident in Sanders County, Montana, while off duty. The sheriff sustained life-threatening injuries and was airlifted to a hospital in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

He is the twin brother of Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza.

By Thursday, there were positive responses to the doctor’s request of movement, according to sheriff’s Lt. Tim Rudloff.

Rudloff has been keeping the public informed throughout by posting news releases on the department’s Facebook page.

Braniff told the gathering Snaza has made significant improvements with breathing on his own, but was still being assisted by a ventilator because of the internal injuries.

“He has a long road to recovery, and that recovery will be aided by the outpouring of support shown thus far,” the undersheriff said.

Braniff is second-in command and running the office in the sheriff’s absence.

Snaza was first elected sheriff in 2010.

Read “Undersheriff on Sheriff Snaza: ‘He is strong, and he’ll be back’” from The Olympian on Friday August 26, 2016, here

For background, read “Breaking news: Thurston Sheriff Snaza seriously hurt in motorcycle wreck” from Wednesday August 24, 2016, here

News brief: Burning sawdust draws multiple fire departments to Winlock mill

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Firefighters spent much of the day fighting with smoldering fires in a sawdust hopper and its funneling system at Shakertown in Winlock yesterday.

They were called to the cedar shake manufacturer at the 1200 block of Kerron Street about 10:45 a.m. and personnel were on the scene until 3:20 p.m., according to Lewis County Fire District 15.

They were assisted by fire departments from Toledo, Napavine and Vader, and eventually called for the ladder truck from the Chehalis Fire Department, according to Assistant Chief Kevin Anderson.

They had climbed the mill’s access ladder to hoist hand-lines to the top of the hopper, some 75-feet in the air, but were unable to achieve total extinguishment that way, according to Anderson.

Eventually the fires were put out and nobody was injured, but the business indicated it may shut down a portion of its operation for at least a month while they deal with cleanup and repairs, according to Anderson.

Breaking news: Thurston Sheriff Snaza seriously hurt in motorcycle wreck

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza is in critical condition this morning following a motorcycle accident in Montana.


Sheriff John Snaza

“Our TCSO family is obviously devastated by this event,” sheriff’s Lt. Tim Rudloff wrote in a news release. “Our thoughts and prayers are with our beloved sheriff for a full recovery.”

According to Rudloff, the single-vehicle collision occurred about 6 p.m. yesterday in Sanders County, Montana.

The sheriff sustained life-threatening injuries and was airlifted to a hospital in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, he stated.

Snaza was off duty when it happened. The accident is being investigated by the Montana State Patrol.

His medical status as of about 9:30 a.m. today was given as critical but stable, according to Rudloff.

Snaza was elected sheriff in 2010. He is the twin brother of Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza.

News brief: Fire breaks out in Centralia yard

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Flames spread quickly to the trees behind Rhobina Street house. / Image by Tyler Ferguson

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Authorities believe fireworks ignited a blaze in a north Centralia neighborhood that spread fast through a yard and burned up three fir trees yesterday.

“The fire was extinguished before it was able to spread to forested land that border the backside of the property,” Riverside Fire Authority Capt. Scott Weinert stated in a news release.

Police and fire crews responded to the approximately 1:50 p.m. 911 call to the 1300 block of Rhobina Street, according to Weinert.

Nobody was hurt and the adjacent homes were unaffected, although there was some minor damage to a house across the street which is being demolished, Weinert indicated.

Residents reported hearing fireworks exploding and a car leaving the area before the flames were discovered, according to the captain.

The fire is being investigated.

A fire weather watch was issued last week and again yesterday by the National Weather Service because of potential critical fire weather conditions.

The combination of low relative humidity and wind means fires could ignite more easily and spread more quickly, according to the weather service.

Another round of very warm temperatures is expected in the area tomorrow and Friday.

Chehalis: Spooked horse injures several fairgoers

Friday, August 19th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Five people were injured when a horse got spooked and took off running down the midway, pulling an unoccupied carriage, at the Southwest Washington Fair today.

“I don’t have conditions on anyone,” Lewis County Risk Manager Paulette Young said this afternoon.

The vendor with the horse and buggy was at the fair to give rides to people, according to Young.

Four of those hurt were hospitalized, she said. Young said she had limited information.

The individuals involved would have been at or around the food booth area, she said.

The fair which opened on Tuesday is operated by Lewis County.

News brief: Hiker plucked from Packwood Glacier by helicopter

Friday, August 19th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Local search and rescue personnel assembled yesterday to retrieve a 62-year-old hiker perched on a small ledge after slipping and sliding at the Packwood Glacier.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office learned about the woman’s situation at about 12:30 p.m. and made preparations for the five-hour trek to the Pacific Crest Trail but then called for air support instead, given her precarious position, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said.

The woman had been hiking alone from Trout Lake headed to White Pass and used her satellite phone to call for help, Brown said. A distress beacon came from the area of Old Snowy Mountain, southeast of Packwood.

The woman used her backpack to prop herself and keep from falling farther downhill.

An Air Force helicopter was able to reach the victim and flew her to Yakima, where she planned to wait to be picked up, according to Brown. She was uninjured.

News brief: Centralia bans campfires

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The city of Centralia is also implementing a prohibition on outdoor recreational fires, because of the fire danger.

The Riverside Fire Authority Fire Marshal, in coordination with the chiefs for local fire districts, strongly urge residents and property owners to be attentive to the conditions of their properties through proactive fire prevention measures.

The restriction in the city begins at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, as does the same restriction in unincorporated Lewis County.

Still allowed however are liquid gas or propane camp stoves which have on/off controls and don’t utilize briquettes.

The change will remain in effect until rescinded by the city of Centralia.

For further information, contact Riverside Fire Authority at 36-330-9854.

News brief: Total burn ban goes into place tonight

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Worsening dry season conditions have prompted a prohibition on all campfires in unincorporated Lewis County.


With the arrival this week of the most dangerous fire weather of the year, the Lewis County Board of Commissioners and Lewis County fire marshal will expand the burn restrictions effective 12:01 tomorrow, according to Lee Napier, director of Lewis County Community Development.

Still allowed however are liquid gas or propane camp stoves which have on/off controls and don’t utilize briquettes.

For further information, Napier can be reached at 360-740-1146.

News brief: Small wildfires spring up in north Lewis County

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Centralia’s firefighters battled two brush fires yesterday, the first on land in the far northwest corner of the county and the second along railroad tracks off Reynolds Avenue.

Crews were called just after 11 a.m. to a wildfire in the area of Garrard Creek Road and Coyote Crest, where they found about a half acre burning, consisting of grasses, berry vines and scrub alder trees, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

No homes were threatened, according to Fire Chief Mike Kytta.

They were joined by members of Grays Harbor County Fire District 1 and kept the flames from spreading, according to Kytta. The scene was turned over to personnel from the state Department of Natural Resources for mop up and investigation.

Just after 4 p.m., a fire broke out along the railroad tracks at the 1600 block of Reynolds Road, at the intersection with Blakeslee Junction, according to Firefighter Chris Layton.

They were assisted by the Chehalis Fire Department, Lewis County Fire District 6 and DNR.

The rail line was shut down for several hours while crews extinguished the flames, which covered an area approximately 600 feet long and 40 feet wide, according to Layton.

Just yesterday, the National Weather Service issued warnings that the combination of high temperatures, dry fuels and breezy weather is conducive to serious wildfire danger into the weekend.

This morning’s message from the weather services states that critical fire weather conditions are forecast to occur starting late tonight, and advise the public to monitor forecasts for possible red flag warnings.

Tomorrow’s high in Chehalis is forecast at 98 degrees. Randle residents can expect temperatures of 93 degrees today and 89 degrees tomorrow.

News brief: Heat wave rolling in

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Potential record breaking temperatures along with dry and breezy conditions have prompted weather watchers to warn of a serious risk of fire danger.

Western Washington is ripe for wildfires into the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

A fire weather watch was issued last night for the Southwest Interior lowlands along with much of the western side of the state.

Temperatures are forecast to be in the middle-90s in Chehalis over the next three days, reaching as high as reach 97 degrees on Friday.

The Department of Natural Resources today expanded its burn ban to prohibit campfires in state parks, state forests and all forestlands protected by DNR.

The weather service urges people to avoid outdoor burning of every kind, not to use fireworks and to use ashtrays in motor vehicles.

“After a relatively mild summer, we are entering a period of critical fire weather on both sides of the Cascades,” Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark stated in a news release. “The greatest fire danger right now comes from carelessness. It’s essential that people understand the risks involved and do not spark any fires.”

An excessive heat watch issued this morning by the weather service is in effect tomorrow through Saturday evening.

News brief: First Responders Day at the fair

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Fans of Lewis County’s first responders can meet the people on the front lines and behind the scenes at their show-and-tell today.

Last year, the gathering dubbed First Responders Day was held in the parking lot at Bethel Church in Napavine. This year, the fun moves to the Southwest Washington Fair.

The event is designed to provide citizens the opportunity to interact with the many different first responders serving the citizens of Lewis County, all in one place. It will be held in the area of the north lawn by the Saloon Stage.

Demonstrations planned include: a firearms simulator, fire extinguisher simulator, CPR flash mob, Sparky the Fire Dog, water pump drill, Safety Pup, Hurst rescue equipment demonstration, less-lethal demonstration, Stop Stix deployment demonstration, search and rescue K-9 demonstration, and patrol K9 demonstration.  Visitors will also be able to meet the sheriff and local police chiefs.

Demonstrations run from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The following agencies have been asked to participate in the event: Centralia, Chehalis, Napavine, Toledo, Morton and Pe Ell Police Departments, Washington State Patrol, Lewis County Dispatch, Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Lewis County Juvenile, American Red Cross – Lewis County Chapter, Lewis County Crime Stoppers, Search and Rescue – Cascade Dogs, all Lewis County fire districts, Lewis County Chaplains and the Lewis County Coroner’s Office.

News brief: Olympia couple practically unscathed by encounter with falling tree on highway

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Van is impounded after getting struck by tree. / Courtesy photo by Bill Serrahn

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The couple whose van roof was crushed by a cottonwood tree in Packwood escaped serious injury or worse by inches.

Lewis County Fire District 10 Chief Lonnie Goble said they were traveling along U.S. Highway 12, maybe 30 to 45 mph, when the tree came down yesterday afternoon, striking just behind the driver’s seat.

“That had to be a sudden stop,” Goble said. “It pushed the roof down to within an inch of where you put your feet on the floorboard.”

The woman passenger possibly had a broken arm and the driver had to wait to get out while a crew cut the vehicle, he said.

“He was just fine, he just stepped out and had a little pain in his back,” Goble said.

John E. Lange, 45, and Stephanie C. Lee, 39, both from Olympia, were transported to Morton General Hospital. They were treated and then released, a hospital spokesperson said today.

Their 2007 Honda Odyssey minivan was destroyed. The fire chief estimated the diameter of the tree as 18 to 20 inches.

Goble said they had a dog laying in the back seat, which was shook up, but seemed to also be unhurt.


Tree lays along U.S. Highway 12 after roadway is cleared. / Courtesy photo by Bill Serrahn

News brief: Centralia police Humvee stolen, recovered

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 28-year-old man is sitting in jail after allegedly stealing the Centralia Police Department’s Humvee and then stalling it along Interstate 5 after traveling about four miles and being detained by passersby.

“These guys stopped to help him and learned he had stolen it, and called police,” Centralia Sgt. Dave Clary said.

It happened about 6 p.m. yesterday

Police say David L. Reser went into the city’s fenced compound on the 1400 block of Mellen Street and drove off with the vehicle, knocking down a light pole along the way.

He headed northbound on the freeway and came to stop just on the north side of the county line, according to police.

Clary said Reser was the one who told the men he’d stolen the Humvee.

The Washington State Patrol processed Reser for driving under the influence, according to Clary. The Centralia resident was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree burglary and theft of motor vehicle.

It was just last week when the Chehalis police chief’s patrol car was stolen, allegedly by a 17-year-old who tried to outrun a trooper on the freeway and left his car at a Chehalis golf course, jumping into the unmarked Chevrolet Impala as law enforcement searched for him.

Clary said the gate was not fully closed to the city’s fenced compound yesterday evening.

“The compound is not quite as secure as we’d like,” he said.

News brief: Olympia motorists hurt by tree in Packwood

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

Tree lays along U.S. Highway 12 after roadway is cleared. / Courtesy photo by Bill Serrahn

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Two people were injured when a large tree fell onto their van as they were headed through Packwood on U.S. Highway 12 today.

Troopers called to the scene about 1:45 p.m. report the 2007 Honda Odyssey minivan was totaled.

John E. Lange, 45, and his passenger Stephanie C. Lee, 39, both from Olympia, were transported to Morton General Hospital,  according to the Washington State Patrol.

It happened near near Skate Creek Road. The pair had been traveling westbound, according to the state patrol.

Photos shared by a Packwood area resident show what appears to be a cottonwood laying along the roadway and the van with a crushed roof.

The van was impounded to Beslow’s Towing, according to the patrol.

The state Department of Transportation noted the roadway was cleared shortly after 3 p.m.


Van is impounded after getting struck by tree. / Courtesy photo by Bill Serrahn

News brief: Chehalis pursuit of patrol car

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Chehalis Police Department spokesperson Linda Bailey said officers are all out after a patrol car was stolen, believed to belong to Chief Glenn Schaffer.

Bailey said she understood the state patrol was involved in a vehicle pursuit in the area of Airport Road, and then she heard a patrol car was taken.

Schaffer drives a gray unmarked Chevrolet Impala, she said.

Bailey said she couldn’t confirm other details at this time.

More to come

News brief: Centralia cockroach killer booked

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Firefighters and police called to a small fire in an apartment on the 300 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia yesterday morning learned a resident was trying to kill cockroaches with an improvised flame thrower.

They found light smoke in the area and a little pile of burned papers on the bathroom floor, which had burned itself out, according to the Centralia Police Department. It was just before 9 a.m.

He said he was using the bug spray Off and a cigarette lighter, but caught some paper on fire, Officer John Panco said.

He got scared, ran out and yelled at others to get out of the building, Panco said. There was no damage, but police arrested Calvin J. Byrd, 24, for reckless burning and booked him into the Lewis County Jail, he said.

News brief: Seven injured in wreck at Mary’s Corner

Sunday, August 7th, 2016
2016.0807.marycorner.Alicia Pentecost

Members of Lewis County Fire Districts 5, 15, 2 and 8 along with Lewis County Medic One responded for five vehicle collision on U.S. Highway 12. / Courtesy photo by Alicia Pentecost

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Three vehicles were totaled in a multiple-vehicle rear-end chain reaction collision that sent seven people to the hospital this afternoon on U.S. Highway 12 about two miles east of Interstate 5.

Troopers called at 2:14 p.m. found that Jacob I. Hadaller, 29, of Mossyrock, was westbound approaching Jackson Highway where four pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles were stopped for the traffic light.

Hadaller’s 2006 Dodge Ram collided with the rear of a 2011 Dodge Dakota, pushing it into a 2016 Nissan Rogue SUV, which was shoved into a 1998 Ford Expedition SUV, which in turn ran into the back of a 2006 Ford Escape SUV, according to the Washington State Patrol

Firefighters and medics from Lewis County Fire District 5 responded, assisted by personnel from four other departments.

District 5 Lt. Laura Hanson indicated the seven patients were transported to Providence Centralia Hospital for evaluation and treatment.

Hadaller was reportedly uninjured but cited for second-degree negligent driving, according to the state patrol.

The intersection is commonly known as Mary’s Corner.

The driver of the Dodge Dakota, Martin K. Fisher, 49, of Olympia was also uninjured, but three of his passengers were. They are ages 15, 15, and 51, all from Olympia.

The driver of the Nissan Rogue, Diane K. Wilkie, 61, Ilwaco, was hospitalized as was the driver of the Ford Expedition, William G. Dix, 32, Centralia, according to the state patrol. Dix’s passenger Amanda L. Ailes, 39, Salkum, was also injured.

General L. Cothren, 71, Winlock, was driving the Ford Escape and reportedly unhurt. His passenger, Gregg Robinson, 65, Winlock, was transported.

Only the Expedition and the Escape were able to be driven from the scene, the investigating trooper reports.

The incident was blamed on inattention.

News brief: Bull dozer help praised for helping stop spread of Rice Road fire

Friday, August 5th, 2016

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Chehalis Fire Department Chief Ken Cardinale said they are looking at a malfunction of the hay baler as causing the fire that burned through acres of fields yesterday along Rice Road in south Chehalis.



The chief said about 30 firefighters from around the county worked to extinguish the flames and personnel from the state Department of Natural Resources were called in.

Several structures were threatened but none were damaged, he said.

It was a fast moving fire through hay fields, fanned by winds of 15 to 20 mph, he said.

Key to getting it under control, was getting a bull dozer from Lewis County Public Works that cut a fire line, he said.

“The dozer coming in at the time that they did was instrumental,” Cardinale said.

The chief was deeply appreciative of law enforcement shutting down the two-lane, shoulderless Rice Road, noting it felt like everyone in Chehalis decided to drive by.

“It’s like moths to a flame,” he said. “They don’t realize.”

Early this morning, Cardinale said he understood the fire covered a bit more than 100 acres before it was stopped.

A spokesperson for DNR said later this morning it was measured by GPS at 66 acres.