Archive for July, 2010

Firefighters extinguish fires in Centralia and Napavine

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

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.


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


• 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.


• 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.


• 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.


• 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.

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

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.


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.


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.

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

••• 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. 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

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.”


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


• 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.


• 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.


• 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.


• 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.


• 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


• 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.


• 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.


• 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
2010.0720.IMG_0178.emsquartersCopying_2 copy

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.


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?”