Archive for July, 2010

Firefighters extinguish fires in Centralia and Napavine

Saturday, July 31st, 2010
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Riverside Fire Authority responds to a house fire north of Centralia Saturday afternoon in a neighborhood without fire hydrants.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – Firefighters rolled out more than 330 yards of five-inch hose across Harrison Avenue and down Prairie Avenue north of Centralia  to douse a blaze inside a house this afternoon.

Nobody was in the rambler at the time but unfortunately one pet cat perished and another was unaccounted for, Riverside Fire Authority Assistant Chief Mike Kytta said as crews came out of the home.

There are no fire hydrants in that area, according to Kytta.

Neighbors reported seeing black smoke, he said. Crews found what Kytta thought was a back bedroom burning and caught flames rising about five feet above the roof, the assistant chief said.

Firefighters from Rochester joined them and the blaze was under control within about 30 minutes of the approximately 3:55 p.m. call.

“It’s nice to be able to go out a rural area and find a fire as advanced as this was; and, they’re going to be able to repair this house,” Kytta said.

It followed a kitchen fire in a house south of Chehalis this morning.

Lewis County Fire District 5 was called at 10:30 a.m. to a home on the 800 block of Koontz Road.

A woman there had thrown bacon on the stove before going out to feed her horses and returned to find her house full of smoke, District 5 Firefighter Raymond Smerek said this afternoon.

Nine firefighters were on the scene. The fire was limited to an area in the kitchen, he said.

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Volunteer Firefighter Corey Youngren gets ready to remove his outer gear after coming out of a house on Prairie Avenue north of Centralia on Saturday afternoon.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

BARTENDER ASSAULTED IN CENTRALIA

• Centralia police arrested two women last night for allegedly assaulting a bartender at the 100 block of South Tower Avenue. Jennifer M. Delaney, 30, and Lori L. McCord, 50, both from Centralia, were arrested for fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor, according to the Centralia Police Department. They were released after the approximately 1:30 a.m. arrests. Further details were not readily available.

DRUGS

• A call to an apartment on the 1400 block of Lewis Street in Centralia about 8:10 p.m. last night led to the arrest of an 18-year-old for possession of methamphetamine. James V. Mitchell of Centralia was also booked into jail for obstructing and fourth-degree assault, domestic violence, according to Centralia police.

• Centralia police arrested two women yesterday evening in connection with prescription medications. Both incidents occurred at the 500 block of South Tower Avenue, but it’s not clear if they are related. Cassandra V. Pope, 26, was arrested for two counts of prescription forgery. About 45 minutes later, Crystal L. Maupin, 50, was arrested for theft of a prescription drug. Both Centralia residents were booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VIDEO CAPTURES IMAGE OF MAN STEALING MOTORCYCLE

• Chehalis police have a good idea of what happened to a $30,000 Harley Davidson a man parked at Wal-Mart and then came back outside to find missing. Chehalis police detective Sgt. Rick McNamara watched a clip of surveillance video yesterday and said it was stolen by a male. “He comes out of the store, gets on it and rides away,” McNamara said. The call to police about the blue motorcycle came about 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.

OTHER STUFF

• Chehalis police were called about a vehicle prowl at Southwest Pacific Avenue and Southwest Sixth Street late Thursday night.

• “Venom” is a word popping up in graffiti in Chehalis lately. Chehalis police detective Sgt. Rick McNamara said yesterday that was the “tagging” left on one of the two malicious mischief calls to police the day before.

Twelve-vehicle collision in freeway construction area north of Centralia injures only three

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Seven vehicles – four of them semi-trucks – had to be towed from Interstate 5 yesterday afternoon after collisions that shut down the freeway north of Centralia and caused miles-long backups for hours.

It began about 1:30 p.m. when cars began slowing for traffic near the county line and a northbound 2004 Volvo tractor-trailer rig changing lanes rear-ended a Mazda pickup and then struck a Ford pickup, according to the state a patrol.

Twelve vehicles were involved but only three individuals sustained minor injuries, according to authorities.

It happened in the bottleneck area under construction, according to fire department Lt. Isaac Garza.

The congestion got so bad so quickly that responders from Centralia’s Riverside Fire Authority couldn’t get to the scene and ambulances from Rochester went there by traveling south in the northbound lanes, according to fire department officers.

“The road construction makes it really difficult to access because there’s no shoulders,” West Thurston Regional Fire Authority’s Garza said this morning.

Garza said a semi-truck pushed a passenger car up onto the right hand concrete barrier, crushing the car. The car’s two female occupants, from Portland, were taken by ambulance to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia.

“They were very, very fortunate,” Garza said. “Normally we would have expected to see a higher level of injury there.”

The 2008 Camry was totaled, as was a 2002 Ford Explorer, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The state patrol blamed inattention, following too closely and an unsafe lane change for the pileup. Any citations or charges are pending the completion of the investigation, according to the investigating trooper.

Although Centralia firefighters couldn’t get to the scene, they assisted two individuals stuck in the traffic and in need of aid for other reasons.

Fire Capt. Scott Weinert said a pregnant woman began having contractions and they took her to the hospital; and a recently discharged heart patient was running low on oxygen and needed to get off the freeway.

By 3 p.m., the northbound lanes of Interstate 5 were backed up beyond the area south of the 13th Street interchange in south Chehalis, and city streets inside both Chehalis and Centralia were described as clogged.

The 12 drivers involved came from places as far away as Albany, Ore. and Zillah. A 27-year-old man from Tenino was reportedly uninjured.

Centralia resident Benjamin Alsterberg was the third individual who was hurt, according to the state patrol. The 24-year-old was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with for injury to his neck and head

The northbound lanes were reopened around 5 p.m.

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Note from Sharyn: If any reader got a photo from this, I’d sure like it if you would email it me to share here. You can send it to me at sharyn.decker@lewiscountysirens.com

Outside agency to conduct review of Centralia officer’s firing of gun

Friday, July 30th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – The Centralia police officer involved in yesterday’s pursuit that led to shots fired in a north end neighborhood has been identified as Officer Michael Lowrey.

Lowrey, an 11-year veteran of the department, will be on administrative leave, as is standard procedure, pending the results of a review of the incident, according to the Centralia Police Department.

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Images of a late model pickup ramming a Centralia patrol car Thursday afternoon are captured on a neighbor's surveillance camera.

Lowrey fired at least two shots at a suspect who police say rammed his patrol car twice during a chase that began on Kresky Avenue and ended in a residential area at the north end of town.

Nobody was hit by any bullet but one round struck the stolen late model Ford pickup truck being driven by a 32-year-old SeaTac man, according to Officer John Panco.

Panco said a resident of the area handed over a video of the ramming and shooting that took place on Euclid at Third street around 5 p.m. yesterday. The pursuit continued over railroad tracks and ended about a block later when the suspect bailed out of the truck and fled on foot.

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Centralia Police Officer Michael Lowrey is shown as he fires at a pickup truck driving away after it rammed Lowrey's patrol car.

Joshua A. Fitchhorn, 32, was arrested shortly afterward on the other side of the Skookumchuck River in Rotary Riverside Park. He was checked out at the hospital because he was scratched up from the brush, according to Panco.

Lowrey sustained a minor injury to his head – complaining of a headache – from the ramming, Panco said. He too was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital and was released last night.

It began about 4:20 p.m. when Fitchhorn allegedly stole the truck from Burkett’s Auto Sales on the 1100 block of South Gold Street. Lowrey spotted the pickup on Kresky and a chase ensued. A second Centralia police officer joined the pursuit just after the suspect rammed Lowrey’s patrol car, Panco said.

Panco said the front of the patrol car sustained some damage and the front of the pickup got minor damage.

Fitchhorn was booked into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree assault and possession of stolen property. He is expected to go before a judge this afternoon.

The last time a Centralia officer shot at a suspect was in January during a robbery at the TwinStar Credit Union, Panco said.

Other than that, it was “before my time and I’ve been here 21 years,” Panco said.

Today, Lowrey is on medical leave and after he is cleared medically, he will be placed on administrative leave, according to Panco.

After the criminal investigation is concluded, an outside agency will conduct an administrative review of the incident, Panco said.

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See photos and read yesterday’s story: Patrol car rammed; officer fires weapon during police pursuit in Centralia

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kirotv.com this afternoon posted the uncut video of the driver of the truck seen ramming the Centralia police car and the officer getting out and firing at the truck.

KING5.com has posted a portion of the video along with its today’s newscast about the incident.

News brief: ID found with body near Mossyrock belongs to murder suspect, sheriff’s office says

Friday, July 30th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The sheriff revealed this morning that identification found with the body discovered at Riffe Lake belonged to a Colorado man wanted for murder.

The find on the shore’s edge of the East Lewis County lake was reported about 6 p.m. Wednesday by a boater, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The body was badly decomposed.

Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield said this morning positive identification has not been made but detectives found the ID in a backpack next to the body. It belongs to a 49-year-old Denver man wanted in connection with the murder of his girlfriend in March in Denver, according to Mansfield.

The sheriff said the wanted man’s vehicle was found in April near the Blue Lake Campground outside of Randle. It was impounded and its owner not located, he said.

The Blue Lake Campground is on the Cispus River in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest – more than 30 miles from where the body was found.

The wanted man’s name is James A. Sprague, according to the sheriff’s office.

Detectives began processing the scene at the lake where the body was found – near the Mossyrock Dam fishing area – yesterday morning. Sheriff’s Cmdr. Steve Aust said there were other items found that suggested the individual had a makeshift camp set up there.

Detectives are working with the Lewis County Coroner’s Office to determine the cause of death and make a positive identification, the sheriff said.

Lottery ticket theft trial for Winlock grocery manager postponed

Friday, July 30th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The trial date for the Winlock grocery store manager accused of stealing lottery tickets has been pushed into October as attorneys go through a crate full of evidence and reports.

Benjamin C. Macy was charged in May with two counts of second-degree theft after a video surveillance camera allegedly showed him scratching off dozens of $20 tickets at 4:30 in the morning at the Cedar Village IGA.

The 51-year-old has pleaded not guilty and is free on bail.

Macy, a Winlock resident, has worked for the store for 30 years, according to charging documents filed in Lewis County Superior Court.

Charging documents give the following account:

Raleigh Stone, the owner of the grocery store contacted Winlock Police Chief Terry Williams in early May after he found several scratch tickets in the trash can in Macy’s office.

The tickets were sequential, and not played in the normal fashion. Just the hidden code was exposed – the code used by lottery merchants to verify winners.

Williams and another officer set up a hidden camera to record the service center in the store at night for a period of about two weeks. On two nights, the camera recorded Macy open up three packets, each containing 75 $20 scratch tickets. The video showed him scratch the area to expose the hidden code necessary to see if the tickets were winners.

On May 22, the police chief contacted Macy at the store and spoke with him.

Macy allegedly said he has been doing it for about three years, although not every day. He said he sometimes pays for the tickets. He was arrested.

A trial is set for the week of Oct. 18 and expected to last three days. Macy is represented by Centralia attorney Jonathan Meyer.

Patrol car rammed; officer fires weapon during police pursuit in Centralia

Thursday, July 29th, 2010
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Police officers search the grassy area at Euclid and Third streets after a Centralia police officer fired upon a stolen truck when it rammed his patrol car this afternoon.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – A police officer fired shots at a vehicle that rammed the officer’s patrol car during a pursuit of a stolen pickup truck in Centralia late this afternoon, according to Centralia police.

The chase began on Kresky Avenue and continued through downtown and into a residential neighborhood at the north end of Centralia.

A suspect was caught on the other side of the Skookumchuck River after bailing out of the truck and fleeing on foot, according to Centralia Officer John Panco.

“It doesn’t appear the suspect was hit,” Panco said just before 7 p.m. this evening.

Chris Wilson, a 21-year-old whose grassy side yard was cordoned off by police tape, said he came out of his house and saw a patrol car on the grass and an officer standing outside it.

“That’s when I heard shots being fired and then there’s a whole bunch of dust and smoke,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the big white truck and patrol car took off north across the railroad tracks.

It was just a block away where the suspect jumped out of the truck and started running, according to Panco.

It began with a report of a stolen vehicle from the 1100 block of South Gold Street at 4:22 p.m., according to Panco. The officer spotted the truck on Kresky and gave chase, he said.

The officer, whose identity was not released, had a minor injury and couldn’t pursue the man on foot, Panco said.

Centralia police were joined by officers from Chehalis, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol in a search for the suspect. The SWAT team which happened to be training joined in, along with police dog Kayo and his handler Sgt. Brian Warren.

The suspect was found in Riverside Rotary Park and arrested for first-degree assault and possession of stolen property. Joshua A. Fitchhorn, 32, of SeaTac, was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

The officer was checked out at Providence Centralia Hospital and has been released, according to Panco.

Small yellow flags marked potential evidence in the grass next to Wilson’s home at Euclid and Third streets. Police officers scoured the area there, along the railroad tracks and even on a nearby roof.

The SWAT truck and another large police vehicle blocked off the area from traffic. Police expected personnel from the state patrol to be out there for hours taking measurements.

Panco said in a news release just before 9 p.m. the suspect rammed the patrol car twice and the officer fired at least two shots in self defense.

Neighbor Rich Butterton said he saw the cloud of dust as well. He was inside when he heard sirens and vehicles that sounded like they were driving way too fast for his street, he said.

“I heard smash, pop, pop, pop, pop,” Butterton said. Then he went out his front door and saw the cloud of dust.

“This is not supposed to happen here at home,” Butterton said. “This is like Seattle-Tacoma stuff; not Centralia stuff.”

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Members of the Centralia Police Department return to the SWAT vehicle after a search for a subject who reportedly rammed a patrol car

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

POLICE BRIEFLY CHASE HIT AND RUN DRIVER

• A car that fled police in Centralia last night and sped down Interstate 5 to Chehalis before vanishing has been recovered, according to authorities. The Ford Concord was found stuck near the railroad tracks by Chestnut Street in Centralia, according to police.  They did not report when it was found or if the driver was with the vehicle. The motorist was driving recklessly and at high speeds trying to elude officers, according to the Centralia Police Department. Chehalis police saw it come off the freeway at 13th Street and pass Penny Playground going north on Cascade and Chehalis Avenues, according to police. It was last seen on North National Avenue heading back to Centralia, Chehalis police Sgt. Rick McNamara said. The pursuit began about 5:25 p.m. when it failed to stop for an officer dispatched to Starbuck’s on Harrison Avenue after the car was involved in a minor collision in the parking lot and left before police arrived to make contact with those involved, according to police. A Centralia police supervisor terminated the pursuit not long after it began because the risks involved in a chase outweighed the necessity of an arrest for the alleged violation, Centralia police reported this morning. The car was impounded so officers could search it, police said.

FREEWAY MOTORIST SAID WINDOW SHOT WITH BB GUN

• Chehalis police were called yesterday evening by an individual who said they were traveling north on Interstate 5 when somebody shot a  BB gun at the side passenger window from an area next to the freeway near 13th Street.

BAIL BOND LICENSE STOLEN

• Chehalis police were called yesterday about the theft of a credit card and identification along with a bail bond license to a business on Southwest Chehalis Avenue.

CAR TROUBLES

• A wallet and medication were reported stolen from a vehicle on the 400 block of West Magnolia Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police just before 5 p.m. yesterday.

• Police were called about 7:15 a.m. yesterday to the 1300 block of Logan Street where somebody had broke out the windows of a vehicle, according to the Centralia Police Department.

WOMAN JAILED FOR RACIAL SLUR RELEASED

• The 38-year-old woman arrested Tuesday night in Centralia for malicious harassment for allegedly threatening her neighbor using a racial slur was released from jail yesterday afternoon pending further investigation. The Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office has not file any charge.

News brief: Body discovered at Riffe Lake

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Lewis County sheriff’s detectives are examining the scene on Riffe Lake where a body was found last evening.

The find on the shore’s edge of the East Lewis County lake was reported about 6 p.m. last night by boaters, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s Cmdr. Steve Aust said it is badly decomposed and they have no idea who it is.

“We can’t tell if its a male or a female but it does appear to be an adult,” Aust said.

Deputies had to access the area, in a remote cove on the northwest portion of the lake, by boat, according to Aust. Detectives began processing the scene about 7 o’clock this morning, he said.

The west end of the 17-mile lake is about two and a half miles east of Mossyrock.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

CENTRALIA WOMAN ARRESTED FOR THREATENING NEIGHBOR

• A 38-year-old Centralia woman was jailed last night after she allegedly threatened bodily harm to her neighbor. Police were called about 8:15 p.m. to the dispute at South Silver and West Pear streets. Lori A. Stout, 38, was arrested for malicious harassment and booked into the Lewis County Jail., according to the Centralia Police Department. Police said several people in the area witnessed the incident. She reportedly used the “N” word, according to Officer Gary Byrnes. Because the racial slur was paired with a threat, the arrest is considered a hate crime, Byrnes said. He said this morning he didn’t know what the argument was about or what she threatened to do.

TEENS CAUGHT TRYING TO BREAK INTO HOUSE, SHERIFF’S OFFICE SAYS

• Two teenage boys were arrested after they reportedly tried to break in to a home on the 2000 block of Sandra Avenue outside Centralia and were spotted and chased by a resident. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office was called about 12:20 p.m. took a 15-year-old male and a 16-year-old male into custody. The Centralia residents were booked into the Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center for attempted residential burglary, sheriff’s Cmdr. Steve Aust said. Their names were not released because they are juveniles.

HAY FIELD FIRE

• About three quarters of an acre burned yesterday west of Chehalis at the 200 block of Bunker Creek Road. Five firefighters from Lewis County Fire District 6 responded to the approximately 2 p.m. call. District 6 Firefighter Mike Goodwillie said it was a hay field and might have begun in one of several small piles of cut hay pieces. No structures were threatened, Goodwillie said.

News brief: Yet another motorist nods off and crashes

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The state patrol responded to a rollover crash on state Route 508 overnight, a wreck they blame on the driver falling asleep.

Troopers and aid were called about 3 o’clock this morning to the scene south of Chehalis, about two miles east of Interstate 5.

The 19-year-old driver, Daniel S. Holmes of Chehalis, suffered cuts to his head and hand and was taken by ambulance to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to the Washington State Patrol. He was treated and has been released, a hospital spokesperson said this morning.

Holmes’ 1993 Dodge Dakota was described as totaled.

The pickup truck was westbound and when Holmes nodded off, it drifted onto the left shoulder and rolled one time, coming to rest wheels down in a ditch, according to the investigating trooper.

The trooper reported he expected Holmes would be cited for wheels off the roadway.

Ambulance service relocates near Winlock

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
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South Lewis County EMS’s new base is now at the corner of state Route 505 and North Military Road in Winlock

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

WINLOCK – The paramedics who respond to 911 calls in South Lewis County have a new home, a new name and and an increased presence at night.

South Lewis County EMS has moved its quarters to a spot about a half mile west of Interstate 5, to the corner of state Route 505 and North Military Road, near Winlock High School.

The group of eight medics will soon be known as Lewis County Medic 1. And they’ve altered their work schedule so two people will be on duty 24 hours a day at the new site.

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Fire Chief Grant Wiltbank

The most visible change is their quarters. They began moving the Fourth of July weekend.

Lewis County Fire Districts 2 and 15 spent $300,000 out of their reserves to purchase the four acres which hold a newer three-bedroom house and a double garage tall enough to park the ambulance indoors, according to Grant Wiltbank, chief of the Toledo-area fire district and executive director of the shared ambulance service.

“The idea was to secure a site that might be used for a joint station in the future,” Wiltbank said last week.

The property sits immediately south of the vast acreage adjacent to Interstate 5 that is expected to one day grow into an industrial park.

It’s all zoned for industrial use and once the area gets water and sewer and development begins, it would have become prohibitively expensive to move there, Wiltbank said.

Their former base was a 1970s single-wide, one bedroom mobile home that was in rough shape when they got it, Wiltbank said. It sat just north of state Route 505 at exit 63 just west of the freeway.

“It worked for what we needed,” Paramedic Kirk Johnston said when he returned from a call to the 2,200-square-foot house one afternoon early last week. “This is just so much … there’s no comparison.”

A big change is being able to park the ambulance inside. The spacious garage will really help, especially in the winter time, said Paramedic Delaney Haddow.

“When it snowed and stuff, we’d have to unbury the ambulance to get out,” she said.

The group, officially named the Interlocal Organization of Lewis County Fire Districts 2, 7 and 15 serves the areas of Toledo, Vader and Winlock, and also responds in Ryderwood. It continues to house three of its paramedics next to the Lewis County Fire District 5 station on Jackson Highway at Avery Road East. Those crews serve the areas covered by fire districts in Napavine, Onalaska, Salkum and Mossyrock.

Inside the new place is a comfy couch and two recliners, and even a bonus room being furnished with hand-me-down exercise equipment. Outside the front door is South Military Road which drops directly into Vader.

Most of their medical calls are for problems such as difficulty breathing or chest pains, but in the summer the calls for trauma go up, the two paramedics said. The changes help carve seconds off response times, according to Wiltbank.

Call volume for the emergency responders feels like it’s at least doubled since she began with South Lewis County EMS in January 2002, Haddow said as she showed off the new quarters. That should only continue, they think. The long term growth in Lewis County is expected in the south portions, according to Wiltbank.

The schedule change means there will be two paramedics on duty at night, where before there was only one.

“We’re also doing transports from Morton General Hospital to wherever they need to go,” Haddow said. “So like last night, I took somebody from Morton to St. Pete’s, so that left a paramedic on duty.”

The groups’ revenue comes from the fees charged for transports.

They’re now doing business as Lewis County Medic 1, a change that should help the public more easily understand what they do, the two medics said.

That will show up on their paperwork, on new uniforms and over time, with the re-lettering of their rigs.

“South Lewis County EMS was just too long of a name,” Johnston said. “People would say, what’s that?”

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

STABBING SUSPECT RELEASED WITH NO CHARGES

• The 19-year-old Centralia resident arrested Friday night for allegedly stabbing a 25-year-old Centralia man was released from the Lewis County Jail this morning without being charged. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported yesterday the two males got into a fight at a party on the the 200 block of Blanchard Road prompted by a fight between two females. It was a gathering of about 50 people. The victim, whose name was not released, was hospitalized and treated for four knife wounds to his abdomen before being booked into jail. A folding knife was recovered at the scene. Lewis County Prosecutor Michael Golden said his office didn’t want to let the suspect go, but there were questions of self-defense to be answered and he also didn’t have evidence from any witness putting the knife in the suspect’s hand. It will be tested for DNA, Golden said. The 19-year-old had been arrested and booked for first-degree assault. Golden said this morning the 25-year-old reportedly had the 19-year-old in a headlock and was punching him in the face, before the stabbing. While police can make an arrest if they have probable cause a person committed a crime, the prosecutor’s office decides whether to file a charge based on if they have evidence to prove a charge beyond a reasonable doubt, according to Golden. The case remains under investigation.

BREAK-INS

• Centralia police were called about 2:30 a.m. today to an unidentified business on the 700 block of Harrison Avenue and told somebody entered its office and removed cash and a computer, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Centralia police reported wire was stolen from a house under construction on the 600 block of South Ash Street. The call about the burglary came just before 9 a.m. yesterday.

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office was called about 3:30 p.m. yesterday to a report of a theft from the 5000 block of Jackson Highway outside Toledo. Taken from a storage shed sometime between Thursday and Sunday were golf clubs, a shop vac, a rolling tool box, another tool box with Craftsman tools and something sheriff’s Cmdr. Steve Aust called a Craftsman combo kit saw, which included a drill. The loss is estimated at $750.

• The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office took a report yesterday afternoon that somebody broke a lock and entered a home on the 5500 block of 222nd Avenue Southwest north of Centralia that hadn’t been checked on for several days. The executor of the estate said nothing appeared to be missing, and items of value were untouched, according to the sheriff’s office. It happened sometime between last Tuesday and Sunday.

• Somebody cut a two foot by four foot hole into the side of a greenhouse at the Happy Hen Farm in Rochester, according to a report made to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office. The vandalism at the 8600 block of 180th Way Southwest occurred sometime after 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday and 10 o’clock the following morning, sheriff’s Lt. Chris Mealy said this morning.

BROKE OUT WINDOWS

• Centralia police were called just after midnight last night to the 300 block of North Gold Street to take a report somebody had smashed several windows out a vehicle.

METH ARREST

• A 60-year-old man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine yesterday evening in Centralia following a traffic stop near South Silver and Jefferson streets, according to police. Dale R. Williamson, of Chehalis, was found to be driving with a suspended license and during a search as he was arrested, an officer discovered suspected methamphetamine in his clothing, according to the Centralia Police Department. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

CHEHALIS ARREST

• Chehalis police arrested an individual about 1:30 a.m. today for unlawful possession of a firearm. The name of the man arrested following contact with an officer at Northwest West Street and Northwest Rhode Island Place was not readily confirmable.

SECOND SKYDIVER INJURY IN TWO DAYS

• A 24-year-old skydiver was hospitalized with an injured ankle after a hard landing on Sunday at the Toledo Airport. It followed a similar accident the day before when a 25-year-old was hurt there. Aid was called about 7 p.m. Sunday and told by witnesses the man’s chute got tangled or something while he was still about 30 feet above the ground, according to South Lewis County Paramedic Delay Haddow. He was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital.

WEEKEND COLLISION NEAR EVALINE

• Two people were hospitalized after a collision near Evaline that left both vehicles with significant front end damage on Saturday night. Lewis County Fire District 5 was called just before 9 p.m. the area of Pleasant Valley and Conrad roads, according to District 5 Firefighter Brad Bozarth. The male driver of a Honda car and the female driver of a pickup truck were both taken to Providence Centralia Hospital, Bozarth said this morning. A passenger was reportedly uninjured.

News brief: Top post at Littlerock prison changes

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Cedar Creek Corrections Center at Littlerock is getting a new superintendent next month, a man who also has been tapped to assist in finding a spot to build a new 1,000-bed prison for Washington state.

Doug Cole’s appointment takes effect August 15, according to the Washington State Department of Corrections.

Cole is currently the superintendent at the women’s prison at Purdy and previously served as an associate superintendent at McNeil Island Corrections Center, according to Belinda Stewart, a spokesperson for DOC. He has extensive experience in security management, Stewart said.

“He has been in corrections for a long time, he came up through the custody ranks,” Stewart said.

Cedar Creek’s current superintendent Jane Parnell will move to take Cole’s post at the Washington Corrections Center for Women near Gig Harbor.

Cedar Creek is a minimum security prison that houses offenders within four years of their release. The Bordeaux Road facility holds 480 inmates.

In addition to being in charge of Cedar Creek, Cole – a Mason County resident – will serve as the prison division’s liaison for the siting and design of a new facility.

DOC plans to construct a what it calls a new male reception center, in part because Washington Corrections Center in Shelton was never built for that purpose, which is currently serves, according to Stewart. A decision hasn’t yet been made about where it will go.

“We want it on the I-5 corridor,” Stewart said. “That just makes it easier for families to visit.”

Prisons Director Dick Morgan said in a news release Cole a good fit for his new duties.

“Doug has extensive experience with prison construction and his expertise will ensure progress is efficient and meets the needs of the agency,” Morgan stated. “This project is a huge undertaking and it’s critical that we have the right person heading up the effort for our division.”

DOC reports the prison population has changed drastically in the past year. The state agency has reduced 1,056 beds this year in response to a decreased offender population and a projected decline of incoming offenders in the future, according to the news release.

Centralia Fire Chief: “There was a huge fire load inside that building.”

Monday, July 26th, 2010
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Riverside Fire Authority Chief Jim Walkoski said that firefighters battling the Saturday furniture store blaze reduced the heat on themselves as best they could by keeping themselves as low to the ground as possible. / Photo by Richard LaLonde

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

While the fire department has finished its part of the investigation into the cause of the weekend’s three-alarm fire at a Centralia furniture business, they will now wait for insurance company investigators to conduct tests on various machines from inside the building to look for a possible ignition source.

Riverside Fire Authority Chief Jim Walkowski said he estimated the loss at Just Wood Furniture at about $2 million.

They believe the area of origin was somewhere in the back of the 13,000 square-foot structure, Walkowski said today.

Just Wood – owned by Tom Nelson – manufactured, repaired and sold retail at the business on Harrison Avenue near Yew Street, according to the fire chief. It was a complete loss, as was separate business, Cascade Tax Service which was located inside the building.

“Fires like these take weeks, if not months before we get answers,” Walkowski said.

Firefighters were dispatched at 3:26 a.m. on Saturday after a police officer responded to a burglar alarm there, Walkowski said. The chief said not to read much into that, as fire activity can set off motion detectors.

It took two hours to get the blaze under control and until about 8 o’clock in the morning before it was fully extinguished, according to the chief.

Forty firefighters from six departments battled to keep it contained and prevent it from burning down a convenience store on one side, an accounting office on the other and a small house in the back, Walkowski said as he finished up reports today.

Besides the wood furniture, the business with an adjoining two-story shop contained wood, sawdust, solvents, lacquers and numerous propane cylinders.

“All very, very combustible,” Walkowski said. “There was a huge fire load inside that building.”

When firefighters pulled up, the roof had collapsed and flames had already ignited trees and the side of the Food Mart next door. They didn’t go inside the burning building, according to Walkowski.

“At the height of the firefight, we were pumping 8,000 gallons of water per minute; that is significant,” Walkowski said, noting one ladder truck can put out 1,000 gallons per minute. The city turned on additional pumps and valves to make that possible, he said.

They had police officers chasing down flying embers and nearly had to relocate the command post which was 60 to 80 feet away in a small parking lot across Harrison, the chief said.

“You couldn’t even put your hand on the side of the command vehicle, it was so hot,” Walkowski said.

Personnel and apparatus from departments in Chehalis, Napavine, Oakville and the city of Olympia assisted in fighting the fire. One firefighter was treated for an ankle injury.

The last three-alarm fire in Centralia was four years ago when half of Oakview Elementary School in the north end of town was destroyed by runaway fireworks.

Late Saturday afternoon, Harrison Avenue was reopened and a fence surrounded the blackened remains of the fire. A bulldozer-type machine was parked inside, and nearby was a Just Wood truck and trailer which were spared. File cabinets from the tax business had also been rescued, according to Chief Walkowski.

Centralia resident Jaspal Mohan said she had arrived about 6 a.m. that morning to open Centralia Food Mart, after closing about 11:30 p.m. the night before.

“I was worried, I saw flashing lights, from Mellen Street,” Mohan said.

She found her front door was open after firefighters broke into her convenience store to check in the attic for fire. There was none, but one exterior wall was left charred and an outside corner had burned.

Also Saturday afternoon, Richard LaLonde and a neighbor were pruning and removing bushes from in between their houses, a task prompted by the overnight experience.

The Rochester Primary School teacher said thankfully the wind was carrying embers the other way, because the vacant house in front and very close to theirs on Harrison Avenue is surrounded by tall, dry grass.

LaLonde and his wife were asleep when their children woke them about 3:30 a.m. They were among the crowd who watched for hours.

Cindy LaLonde said it seemed only minutes that the flames moved from the back of the building to the front.

“It all went up, and it went up fast,” Richard LaLonde said.
•••
To view several photos and read the original Saturday news story about the fire at Just Wood Furniture click here.

News brief: Dry weather prompts Lewis County burn restrictions

Monday, July 26th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

An outdoor burn ban will go into effect in Lewis County at one minute after midnight tonight.

Lewis County Building Official and Fire Marshal Fred Chapman said he expects it will remain until weather conditions change, probably sometime in October.

It’s a summertime restriction that means residents can’t burn brush outdoors, which they otherwise could have with a permit.

“This is the latest its gone into effect in my 10 years here,” Chapman said, noting that’s because June as such a wet month.

Small cooking campfires – no larger than three feet by three feet by two feet – are still allowed.

Thurston County implemented a similar ban on July 15.

Also on July 15, a burn ban went into effect statewide on all Department of Natural Resources-protected lands which include private forest lands and state-owned forest lands. An exception to those restrictions are recreational fires in approved fire pits in designated campgrounds. It is set to expire on Sept. 15.

In the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, campfires are currently allowed if certain safety measures are taken, such as using a ringed or grated fire pit and keeping tools such as a shovel nearby in case fire should escape, according to Ken Sandusky, a spokesperson for the National Forest.

The fire danger is currently listed as moderate in the Gifford Pinchot, and as the precaution level increases, so do the restrictions, Sandusky said.

Chapman said use common sense and enjoy the summer.

If a person builds a campfire, keep it at least 20 feet away from any structure, don’t do it under a tree and don’t leave it unattended, he said.

The end of July and the first of August often are accompanied by an increase in wildfire outbreaks, according to DNR. So far this year, as of last week, there have been more than 140 wildfires on the 12.7 million acres across Washington on land protected by DNR.

For more information check with your local fire department or the following:

• Lewis County Community Development – click here
• Washington State Department of Natural Resources – click here
• Gifford Pinchot National Forest – click here
• Southwest Washington Fire Prevention Council – click here
• Southwest Clean Air Agency – click here

News brief: Weekend crashes

Monday, July 26th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A two-car crash on Interstate 5 near 13th Street in Chehalis sent two  women to the hospital yesterday afternoon.

The Washington State Patrol reported that a northbound Audi slammed into the rear of a Toyota Corolla which had braked hard to avoid traffic at about 2 p.m.

The impact forced the Toyota into the inside concrete barrier can caused it to flip onto its top, according to the state patrol.

The 2006 Toyota Corolla was totaled. The 2002 Audi A4 sustained an estimated $2,000 damage and was towed.

Lindsay A. Currier, 22, of Beaverton, Ore. and Alison L. Tuttle, 29, of Portland, Ore. were taken to Providence Centralia Hospital. Both were treated and have been released.

The investigating trooper blamed the collision on inattention.

Early the day before, three Randle residents were hospitalized after a car ran off U.S. Highway 12 east of Packwood, rolled and landed on its top blocking both east and westbound lanes.

Aid and troopers were called about 5:45 a.m. on Saturday to the crash about six miles this side of White Pass.

Taken to Morton General Hospital with what were described as minor injuries were the driver of the 2006 Chevrolet HHR, Robert Miller, 77, Beatrice A. Dean, 73, and Lois B. Jones, 76, according to the state patrol.

The car was described as a total loss.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, July 26th, 2010

MAN KNIFED AT CENTRALIA UNDERAGE PARTY

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning a 25-year-old man was knifed when a fight broke out at an underage drinking party outside Centralia late Friday night. Deputies were called about 11:40 p.m. to the 200 block of Blanchard Road and arrested a 19-year-old Centralia man, according to sheriff’s Cmdr. Steve Aust. He said two females reportedly got into a fight which led to a fight between the suspect and the boyfriend of one of them. The 25-year-old Centralia resident, whose name was not released, suffered four knife wounds and was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, Aust said. Jovanny Montenegro-Perez, 19,  also of Centralia, was arrested and booked into the Lewis County jail for first-degree assault, according to Aust.

DRUG ARRESTS

• Centralia police arrested Yolanda J. Ortivez, 34, of Oakville, for possession of heroin on Saturday afternoon at the 200 block of West Reynolds Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department. She was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

• Centralia police arrested Nicholas M. Anderson, 22, of Centralia for possession of heroin on Saturday about 3:30 p.m. on the 1400 block of South Schueber Road, according to the Centralia Police Department. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

• Centralia police reported they arrested and booked an individual for possession of methamphetamine about 3:45 p.m. on Saturday at the 600 block of South Tower Avenue. No name was released.

THEFTS

• A blue Toshiba laptop computer was reported stolen from a home on the 100 block of North Buckner Street in Centralia. Police, called about 8 p.m. on Sunday believe a door was unlocked while the resident was away.

• Somebody broke into a Centralia home and stole car keys and then the truck parked outside, according to a report made to the Centralia Police Department on Friday afternoon. An officer who went to the 1300 block of St. Helens Street described the missing vehicle as a black 1997 Dodge Dakota pickup, with a license plate of A76273W.

JUST PLAIN MEAN STUFF

• Centralia police took a report about 2 p.m. on Saturday that somebody set off fireworks inside a woman’s car on the 1000 block of Elm Street. Police indicated the victim did not know who did it.

• Centralia police took a report over the weekend that somebody entered the compound of Twin City transit on East Locust Street and cut a bike rack off one of the busses and scratched another bus.

AND VEHICLE PROWLS

• Centralia police called to what appeared to be an attempted vehicle prowl about 2:15 a.m. on Saturday on the 1500 block of Pike Street reported the victims dog chased off the male and may have bit him.

• Somebody stole a stereo and related equipment from a vehicle parked on the 1000 block of South Pearl Street in Centralia, according to a  report made to police about 5:20 p.m. on Saturday.

• The Chehalis Police Department reported on Friday a vehicle prowl the afternoon before at South Market Boulevard and Southwest 16th Street.

News flash: Photos added to “Centralia furniture store destroyed by fire”

Sunday, July 25th, 2010
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The flames begin to consume the street side storefront of Just Wood Furniture. / Photo by Richard LaLonde

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Just added several photos to the Saturday news story about the fire at Just Wood furniture business on Harrison Avenue.

Check them out here.

News brief: Parachutist injured in ‘hard landing’ at Toledo airport

Saturday, July 24th, 2010
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Part of a group holding a family gathering at the Toledo Airport prepare to take their turn at skydiving minutes after another parachutist is taken away by ambulance following a hard landing.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 25-year-old skydiver was hospitalized this afternoon after he had what was described as a hard landing in Toledo.

Lewis County Fire District 2 and paramedics were called about 4:30 p.m. to the Toledo Airport off Jackson Highway north of town.

Heather Whittaker of Skydive Toledo was among a number of professionals there – serving a group holding a family reunion – and taking some of them up in the air to parachute.

Five of them hopped in a truck and headed to the spot where the man came down, several hundred yards away between the runway and the taxi way.

“He had a hard landing,” Whittaker said.

The five are part of a group that train for just such emergencies, according to Whittaker.

The injured man, whose name was not released, was taken by ambulance to Providence Centralia. The nature of his injuries wasn’t available.

Whittaker said he wasn’t one of the clients Skydive Toledo was entertaining today. They didn’t see what happened, and she preferred they didn’t find out, she said, as a foursome arrived to the runway to go up in a small plane.

Park filled with mourners for Morton teenager Austin King

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

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Family, friends and others gather with candles at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton on Friday night to honor 16-year-old Austin King.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

MORTON – A grass field at a Morton park drew more than 200  people last night, both individuals who knew and those who never knew 16-year-old Austin King.

The gathering came three days after the body of a young adult male was discovered off a logging road 10 miles away from the missing Morton boy’s home.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has not said the body is that of the teenager; it hasn’t been identified yet.

Hundreds of candles were lit and a handful of folks spoke before a prayer was recited.

“When I heard, I cried,” said one man who said he didn’t know Austin. “It could have been my boy.”

“We want to thank you from the bottom of our heart for bringing home our baby,” said another adult.

Another called whoever did this “monsters.”

Eloise Pugh from Glenoma whispered how unfortunate it was she didn’t see elected officials from Morton or members of the sheriff’s office present.

“It feels like they don’t care,” Pugh said quietly. “These people know their children, they know their child.”

Morton resident Jennifer Mau and women she called her “core” team coordinated blue ribbons for lapels, a jug to collect funds for funeral expenses, and balloons.

The 30-year-old is the local chapter founder of a Texas-based motorcycle group called Guardians of the Children. Their mission is to help protect abused kids, but Mau has become active in assisting and now in setting up searches for runaway children.

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Members of Guardians of the Children came from as far away as Tacoma to support Austin King's family.

She organized the search effort for Austin that began not long after he vanished sometime between June 23 and 24. The teenager was labeled by the sheriff’s office as a runaway, and two or three weeks later re-classified as endangered-missing.

What happened remains a mystery.

The sheriff’s office in talking Wednesday about the unidentified body said there was no initial obvious indication of an accident or suicide and none of foul play “at this time.” But it’s not clear what they had to work from.

After an autopsy was conducted on Thursday, the remains were taken to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office in Seattle, for additional examination by a forensic anthropologist.

Yesterday, the sheriff’s office released a statement that a high priority is being given to determining the identity, but DNA testing is necessary for that.

“It’s not expected to be completed for at least another week,” the statement read.

Austin’s mother, 35-year-old Christy Harper kept a low profile at Gust Backstrom Park last night. His father Shaun King lives in Chehalis and he has numerous brothers and sisters, according to family members.

One cousin from Randle and another from Onalaska were among the many relatives who were part of the convergence at the park.

“He’s 16 years old, it shouldn’t have happened,” said A.J. Spears a cousin who was at the teenager’s home in the Tilton River Mobile Home Park when his family realized he was gone.

Like others, he’s heard lots of stories, but doesn’t know anything for sure, Spears said.

“It’s crazy, I’ve never heard of it in this area,” he said. “And I’ve lived here all my life.”

•••
To read “Vigil for Morton teen still on; body found yesterday not identified” – click here – from Wednesday July 21, 2010 at 12:06 p.m.

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A collection of photographs of Austin King is displayed on a picnic table in the park in Morton on Friday night.

News brief: Centralia furniture store destroyed by fire

Saturday, July 24th, 2010
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A firefighter in front of Just Wood Furniture in Centralia is one of several putting water on the blaze that broke out around 3 o'clock Saturday morning. / Photo by Richard LaLonde

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A three-alarm fire ravaged a furniture store in Centralia overnight and spread to a neighboring former gas station before it was knocked down.

The Just Wood furniture business on Harrison Avenue near Yew Street sounds like it’s a complete loss, an assistant fire chief said this morning as he was coming on duty.

“The (convenience) store next door had already started burning when units were arriving, therefore, it was pretty advanced,” Riverside Fire Authority Assistant Chief Mike Kytta said.

One firefighter sustained an ankle injury and was hospitalized, but he has since been treated and released, Kytta said.

Firefighters were called around 3 a.m. and found the business with an adjoining two-story shop ablaze, according to Kytta.

They kept the damage to the Centralia Food Mart to a minimum – its one wall was charred – and protected another nearby office building, he said. The Food Mart used to be a service station, but its gas pumps and tanks have been removed, according to Kytta.

The assistant chief said he expected the some of the department and investigators to be on site much of today.

Centralia police said Harrison Avenue between West First and Yew streets would be closed until 3 p.m.

The last three-alarm fire Kytta could recall was four years ago when half of Oakview Elementary School in north Centralia was destroyed by runaway fireworks.

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The flames begin to consume the street side storefront of Just Wood Furniture. / Photo by Richard LaLonde

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Fire trucks from Centralia and Chehalis sit on Harrison Avenue early Saturday morning. / Photo by Richard LaLonde

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Firefighters continue to put water on Just Wood Furniture as well as two adjacent buildings which were spared. / Photo by Richard LaLonde

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Firefighters battle the three-alarm fire well into Saturday morning. / Photo by Richard LaLonde

News brief: Two vehicles run off U.S. Highway 12 yesterday in separate incidents

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

An 89-year-old woman is in critical condition after a single-vehicle wreck on U.S. Highway 12 between Mayfield Lake and Mossyrock yesterday afternoon.

The Washington State Patrol reported a westbound 1986 Nissan pickup truck drove into a ditch on the right side of the road and rolled, coming to rest on its top.

May E. Buchanan, 89, and her daughter, Joyce M. Zelepuza, 69, both of Orting, were taken to the hospital with cuts and bruises, according to the state patrol. However, Buchanan this morning was in the intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Troopers and aid were called at 3 p.m. The truck was totaled, the rooftop was flattened but both woman were able to crawl out the windows, responders said.

The cause is under investigation, according to the state patrol.

About a half hour later, troopers were called to a different car that ran off the highway about six miles west of Packwood.

The investigating trooper blamed driver inattention when the eastbound Oldsmobile Cutlass drove off Highway 12 on the right and down an embankment before continuing parallel to the highway in the grass and driving back up to the gravel shoulder.

The car sustained an estimated $2,000 damage to its engine and undercarriage and had to be towed, according to the state patrol

Betty L. Kinnaman, 67, of College Place, escaped with just back pain, the patrol reported.