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Officials offer early information regarding floodwaters

Monday, January 5, 2015 at 10:29 am
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Authorities remind motorists not to drive through standing water; this is Rice Road near Stan Hedwall Park in Chehalis this morning.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office announced this morning the activation of the Lewis County Emergency Operations Center in preparation for impending flooding on the Newaukum and Chehalis rivers.

There is already water over the roadways in several areas along the Newaukum River, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. Motorists are advised not to drive through deep standing water and obey all road closure signs, Brown states.

Citizens living in flood prone areas are advised to move their animals to high ground.

Brown reminds the public that winter storm event conditions can change rapidly. She suggests people monitor local radio stations for event updates.

Brown advises that sand bags for private residences can be purchased at several locations including Martin Sand and Gravel, Home Depot and Sunbirds Shopping Center.

The city of Centralia has sandbags for its residents.

Due to the flooding from China Creek, a sandbag station has been opened on Center Street between Pearl and Tower, according to the Centralia public works department. Sand, bags, and shovels will be available for use. There will not be anyone there to assist with the process. Questions?  Call the Public Works Department at 330-7512.

The sheriff’s office publishes river readings at http://rivers.lewiscountywa.gov/ and information about road closures at http://roads.lewiscountywa.gov/.

Monitor the changing conditions for yourself, using links always available on the right-hand sidebar of this news site under “Other useful web links. Direct from the National Weather Service.

• “River levels“: Graphs show you what level your river has been at, where it’s at right now and where it is projected to be.

• “Weather alerts, forecasts“: Click on the map to find your current and forecast temperature and other weather information, as well as alerts for hazardous weather conditions.

• Also, quickly and easily get information directly from others in the community by viewing or joining Lewis County Sirens on Facebook.

•••

For background, read yesterdays heads-up, “Record-breaking flooding possible on Newaukum River” from Sunday January 4, 2015, here

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News brief: Wreck with semi on U.S. Highway 12 leaves one dead

Sunday, January 4, 2015 at 3:51 pm

Updated

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Washington State Patrol is investigating a fatality collision a few miles east of Randle.

The wreck involved a compact car and a semi truck hauling a trailer, which was empty, according to the state patrol.

Lt. Shane Nelson said he believed it occurred around 11 a.m., but he is not the primary officer.

One lane of the roadway was still closed this afternoon on U.S. Highway 12 near Davis Creek Road, he said.

The truck driver, a male, was uninjured, according to Nelson.

The sole occupant of the car, 52-year-old Jay E. Sume of Randle, died at the scene, according to the Washington State Patrol.

According to the investigating trooper, Sume was heading eastbound and crossed the centerline; the oncoming 2010 Freightliner swerved to the right to avoid the car, but the car struck its trailer.

Sume’s 1993 Ford Escort was totaled.

The Freightliner had to be towed. It was driven by Michael J. Humphrey, 39, from Kelso, according to the state patrol.

The reason for the collision is unknown, and it’s unknown if any citations of charges may be filed.

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Record-breaking flooding possible on Newaukum River

Sunday, January 4, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Updated at 1:40 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Remember early January in 2009, when the water from flooded swamplands next to Interstate 5 near 13th Street in Chehalis spilled onto the freeway, shutting down the normally busy north-south corridor?

Anyone in the Newaukum River Valley remember the winter before, the morning of Dec. 3, 2007?

How about February 8, 1996?

Weather forecasters say snow, changing to rain late tonight in the mountains, means flooding is possible tomorrow, for some of Western Washington.

While the flood watch notes the upper Cowlitz River in Lewis County is among those at greatest risk, the prediction service’s current graph shows flooding of the Newaukum River could surpass each of those three events, by an inch or two.

The National Weather Service urges the public to stay tuned to its website for further updates.

The heavy rainfall would also lead to a moderate risk of landslides, according to the weather service.

In January 2009, the combination of water on Interstate 5 and mudslides on U.S. Highway 12 stranded large numbers of long haul truckers in places such as Mary’s Corner and near Spiffy’s restaurant south of Chehalis.

A flood watch is in place from late tonight through late tomorrow night, meaning flooding is not imminent or occurring, but people should be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued.

Information published by the weather service at 4:20 a.m. today suggests the storm’s total precipitation will probably be 3 inches to 7 inches in the Cascade and Olympic mountains.

If the forecast is correct, moderate flooding could occur on the Cowlitz River at Randle; minor flooding could occur on the Chehalis River at Centralia; and minor to moderate flooding could occur on the Skookumchuck River.

The forecasters do say an episode of widespread major flooding is unlikely. Rivers would probably crest late tomorrow and tomorrow night, they note.

The Newaukum River’s headwaters begin outside of Onalaska and the waterway winds through northern Napavine to just west of Interstate 5 where it parallels the freeway heading north to meet in Chehalis with the Chehalis River.

Dig out your rubber boots.

The current prediction is the Newaukum River could begin to spill over its banks around 6 o’clock tomorrow morning and crest around 3 p.m. at 13.67 feet.

The record was on Feb. 8, 1996 at 13.54 feet.

On Jan. 7, 2009, the river reached 13.49 feet and on Dec. 3, 2007, it crested at 13.45 feet.

Monitor the changing conditions for yourself, using links always available on the right-hand sidebar under “Other useful web links. Direct from the National Weather Service.

• “River levels“: Graphs show you what level your river has been at, where it’s at right now and where it is projected to be.

• “Weather alerts, forecasts“: Click on the map to find your current and forecast temperature and other weather information, as well as alerts for hazardous weather conditions.

•••

Note: Any neighbors around the Newaukum River Valley care to share wisdom from those previous floods?

How bad was it where you live? What did you do to get ready, or during, that worked well for you? What might you do different this time, next time?

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Newaukum River graph at 2 p.m. today. / From the National Weather Service

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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, January 2, 2015 at 12:17 pm

HOSPITAL ASSAULT

• Centralia police arrested a 24-year-old man for allegedly assaulting a nurse in the emergency room at Providence Centralia Hospital on New Year’s Eve. Travis D. Compton, of Chehalis, was booked into the Lewis County Jail for third-degree assault following the approximately 10:15 p.m. response to the 900 block of South Schueber Road, according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRUG VIOLATION

• A 25-year-old Centralia man was arrested last night after an alleged attempt to return for money something shoplifted earlier in the day at Wal-Mart. Police called about 6 p.m. to on Northwest Louisiana Avenue caught up to their suspect in a parking lot north of Wal-Mart and found suspected drug paraphernalia in his car, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Brett A. Warness was booked into the Lewis County Jail for a violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, for a Department of Corrections warrant and also for burglary, as he had previously been told to stay out the store, according to police.

GUN CRIME

• A 39-year-old Centralia man was arrested for felon in possession of a firearm associated with a response about 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve at Chestnut and Ash streets in Centralia. Bradley M. Pedersen, was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

BREAK-IN CENTRALIA

• Centralia police were called just after noon on Wednesday to the 500 block of East Maple Street about a residential burglary.

OTHER THEFT

• Centralia police were called about 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday to the 1500 block of Harrison Avenue regarding theft of money from residents in the facility.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, vandalism, protection order violation, misdemeanor domestic assault, driving under the influence, driving with with suspended license, driving with with no license; responses for alarm, suicide threat, misdemeanor theft, collision on city street  … and more.

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News brief: Fire breaks out at Centralia mill

Friday, January 2, 2015 at 9:25 am
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Firefighters contain fire to hopper at mill. / Courtesy photo by Riverside Fire Authority

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Spontaneous combustion of compacted sawdust material inside a large hopper is suspected in an overnight fire at a mill in north Centralia.

Firefighters called at 3:50 a.m. to the plant at the end of Central Boulevard pulled their hoses but were able to flood the hopper instead by diverting water from plant piping, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

The fire did not spread to the rest of the structure, but the damage, including to insulation outside the hopper, is estimated at $25,000, according to Capt. Scott Weinert.

Nobody was injured. Crews were on the scene a couple of hours, Weinert said.

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News brief: Centralia police dog earns high praise as work life comes to close

Thursday, January 1, 2015 at 5:27 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia Police Chief Bob Berg announced the retirement earlier this week of Kayo the police dog, ending what the chief called a stellar nine year career.

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Kayo

The 10-year-old German Shepherd from Slovakia came to Centralia as a youngster, underwent basic canine training and was placed into service with his partner Officer Brian Warren in early 2006.

Berg said the decision for retirement came because of Kayo’s age, and because the time has come for him to relax and enjoy the remaining years of his life.

The K-9 will be declared “surplus” and sold to now-Sgt. Warren for $1, according to Berg.

In his December community newsletter issued on Monday, Berg wrote that Kayo has amassed quite a record.

Among the police service dog’s many accomplishments, Berg lists approximately 250 “deployments”, 91 arrest assists, 131 drug finds and 50 evidence recoveries.

Berg notes Officer Ruben Ramirez’s dog Lobo is still on the job and another handler and police service dog are expected to be selected this coming summer.

Kayo worked his last shift on Saturday.

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Investigator: No explanation for Boistfort house fire

Thursday, January 1, 2015 at 3:25 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A fire investigator couldn’t determine the cause of a blaze that destroyed a Boistfort Valley home and most of its contents on Tuesday evening.

Investigator Derrick Paul said this morning he would let the insurance inspector to dig a little deeper to perhaps find out what started it.

Lewis County Fire District 13 Chief Kyle DePriest said the double-wide manufactured home is a total loss. Paul said the couple did have a fire safe and a couple of dressers with clothing were salvaged.

Approximately 20 firefighters with three districts fought the fire on the 1100 block of Boistfort Road; crews spent more than six hours at the scene, according to DePriest.

The residents are staying with family in the area, according to DePriest.
•••

For background, read “Couple displaced by fire in Boistfort Valley” from Wednesday December 31, 2014, here

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Smoke rises from home on the 1100 block of Boistfort Road on Tuesday evening. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 13

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Transitions at the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

Wednesday, December 31, 2014 at 5:07 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The 38th sheriff of Lewis County was sworn in yesterday, although his term won’t begin until after the clock strikes midnight tonight.

Sheriff-elect Rob Snaza was among eight elected county officials who took part in the ceremony in the Historic Courthouse in Chehalis, administered by Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey.

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Sheriff-elect Rob Snaza

His twin brother, Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza was among those observing from the filled benches.

Also attending was the new undersheriff, Capt. Wes Rethwill, who retires from the Washington State Patrol today.

The sheriff-elect has known him some 20 years. Thurston Sheriff Snaza said he used to work for Rethwill, when Rethwill headed up a countywide drug task force.

Sheriff-elect Snaza has also said he’s chosen Deputy Bruce Kimsey, to serve as his chief criminal deputy. Current Chief Criminal Deputy Gene Seiber will be doing something else in the office, Snaza has said.

Snaza, a Napavine area Republican, has said among his priorities are rooting out career criminals, continuing to run a no-frills jail and partnering with schools.

During some 20 years with the sheriff’s office, the now 49-year-old longtime sergeant has been SWAT leader and also supervisor of the  Lewis County Regional Crime Task Force.

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Sheriff Steve Mansfield

He announced his candidacy in the spring of last year, and not long afterward, was made spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, for a few months. Less than a month after he swept the August primary election, he was promoted to undersheriff.

Outgoing Sheriff Steve Mansfield was in the audience as well, and said he’d already cleaned out his office. He indicated he felt his successor was well-prepared to fill the new role.

Mansfield said he figured “they’d” probably come and get his car today, or maybe he’d drive it in, he said.

After two-plus terms as sheriff, the Winlock resident will soon step into a familiar role.

The three-member board of county commissioners yesterday selected Mansfield to manage the Department of Emergency Management.

The responsibility for the function has been with the sheriff’s office for more than a decade, and now is being handed back over to the commissioners.

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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, December 31, 2014 at 11:29 am

BOY ROBBED ON STREET

• Chehalis police are looking for the person who stole a set of headphones right off a teenage boy’s head while he was out walking yesterday evening. An officer called about 7:40 p.m. learned it happened in the 200 block of Southwest 15th Street, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The 15-year-old boy was unhurt, detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said.

MOTORBIKE STOLEN

• A deputy was called yesterday afternoon to the 8100 block of U.S. Highway 12 in Glenoma where a man said someone had taken his motorcycle from his front yard sometime since Sunday. Missing is a red 1982 Honda CT1108 valued at $750,  according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

MEDS MISSING

• Centralia police took a report yesterday from the 1500 block of South Gold Street from a woman regarding the theft of a half bottle of morphine pills.

HANDBAG TAKEN FROM LOCKER

• A purse was stolen from an employee locker area at Providence Centralia Hospital, according to a report made to police yesterday. It appeared the locker was opened with some sort of device or even a key, according to the Centralia Police Department.

BACKPACK LIFTED

• An individual who left his backpack with his bicycle outside a convenience store on the 500 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia called police when the pack was stolen yesterday. An officer called about 7 p.m. was told that among the items it contained were a wallet and food, according to the Centralia Police Department.

AND MORE

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

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Couple displaced by fire in Boistfort Valley

Wednesday, December 31, 2014 at 9:47 am
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Flames light up the night sky on the 1100 block of Boistfort Road. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 13

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The cause of a house fire in the Boistfort Valley yesterday evening is being investigated today.

Nobody was home and no one was injured.

Firefighters were called just before 6 p.m. to the 1100 block of Boistfort Road, a mile or so south of the BawFaw Grange, according to Lewis County Fire District 13.

“I was one of the first units on the scene, and by the time we arrived, the structure was fully involved,” Fire Chief Kyle DePriest said.

Flames were already rising through the roof, he said.

Crews fought the blaze from the outside only, joined by members of Fire Districts 6 and 11, DePriest said.

He described the residence as a double-wide mobile or modular home, with wood siding.

The couple who live there were out to dinner in Chehalis, and returned while firefighters were still there. They had no ideas what could have ignited it, he said.

The structure is still standing, with heavy fire damage in its center, he said.

Firefighters were on the scene until about 1 a.m. An investigator will be heading out there today, he said.

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L&I: Safety violations led to fatal explosion in Maytown

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 7:18 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The state has fined a Maytown fireworks company $1,200 for safety violations that contributed to this summer’s deadly workplace accident

One employee was killed and two others injured after an explosion at Entertainment Fireworks Inc. on Reeder Road on the morning of June 18.

They were outside preparing shells, inserting what the fire department called electronic matches.

The state Department of Labor and Industries report concluded the workers were not following the safety requirements for connecting the igniters, also known as “squibbing”.

“The employer did not establish, supervise and enforce their accident prevention program in a manner that is effective in practice,” the L&I inspector wrote of the serious violation.

Exactly what they did or did not do is not specified, but the rules refer to limiting the amount of pyro materials present during the process and specify how the personnel should all work on one side of the table facing the same direction.

A witness estimated he heard and saw about 15 commercial fireworks explode at about roof level of the buildings.

Bill Hill, 75, died at the scene.

At the time, a spokesperson for L&I said the business had not had any safety complaints, incidents or inspections for a number of years.

Two other violations were found as well. The company could not provide documentation it held safety meetings for employees nor did they have training records for their two forklift operators.
•••

For background, read “Feds, state investigating fatal explosion at Maytown fireworks facility” from Thursday June 19, 2014, here

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News brief: Snowshoer perishes on Mount Rainier

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 5:27 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Search crews looking for a missing snowshoer on Mount Rainer located his body yesterday next to Edith Creek in the Paradise area.

The 37-year-old man from Puyallup disappeared during Saturday evening’s winter storm that dropped 20 inches of snow in 48 hours.

Mount Rainier National Park spokesperson Patti Wold reported in a news release the Pierce County medical examiner would make the formal identification; the Associated Press reports today he is Louis Landry of Puyallup.

According to Wold, Landry was forced to descend because of severe conditions and was taken into a shelter by another party, but the shelter was destroyed and they became separated as they headed to Paradise.
•••

For background, read “News brief: Puyallup man missing in Paradise backcountry” from Monday December 29, 2014, here

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News brief: Oakville motorist injured on U.S. Highway 12

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 5:02 pm
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U.S. Highway 12 near Oakville is blocked as troopers investigate collision.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 63-year-old Oakville man was injured when his PT Cruiser was struck by a big rig on U.S. Highway 12 near Oakville today.

Troopers called just before 1:30 p.m. report that Clifford W. Harris was approaching the highway from Blockhouse Road and failed to stop at the stop sign. An eastbound Kenworth tractor with two flatbed trailers struck his car’s driver’s side front, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Harris was transported to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, according to the state patrol.

The road was blocked for an hour and 45 minutes.

The truck driver, Dale R. Long, 45, from Kelso, was unhurt, according to the investigating trooper.

Harris is to be issued a citation for failure to yield. His car was totaled.

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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 11:52 am

STRANGER BREAKS DOOR, COMES INSIDE

• Chehalis police say a resident on the 300 block of Northwest Chehalis Avenue reported he was in his room yesterday morning when he heard a noise and then his door opened and a male he did not recognize was standing there. An officer called about 11:45 a.m. found the front door open and broken from its frame, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The resident said the intruder left quickly and it wasn’t clear if anything was missing from the home, according to police. The intruder is described as a white male who appeared to be in his early to mid 20s, with a short, full-faced beard and wearing a black beanie cap,  department spokesperson Linda Bailey said.

MAN ON GROUND KICKED

• A 24-year-old Centralia man was arrested for fourth-degree assault yesterday after he allegedly kicked a 51-year-old homeless man who was sleeping behind a church on the 400 block of North Tower Avenue. Officers responding about 4 p.m. learned the suspect then rode off on his bicycle, but he, Lucas D. Bryan, was subsequently located, issued his citation and then released, according to the Centralia Police Department.

TRICKED ON CRAIGSLIST

• Centralia police were called yesterday to the 1500 block of South Gold Street by a 43-year-old man who had been trying to sell roof trusses on Craigslist and lost some $2,000 in the process. He received a check from a supposed purchaser for more than his asking price and returned the difference to the supposed buyer, according to the Centralia Police Department. The original check was bad, according to police. The “buyer” didn’t pick up the trusses, so the victim didn’t lose those, Sgt. Kurt Reichert said.

FRAUD

• Centralia police took a report from an individual at the 300 block of North Tower Avenue yesterday regarding unauthorized expenditures that appeared on their account following the loss of a debit card.

DENTIST’S TOOLS SPIRITED AWAY

• Police were called to Valley View Medical Center on Northeast Kresky Avenue in Chehalis, where a patient was seen by an employee allegedly leaving with some dental instruments. He denied taking them, but a citation for third-degree theft will be issued to Stanley  A. J. Pesicka, 31, of Onalaska, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

BURGLARY CENTRALIA

• A Stihl chainsaw with an 18-inch bar is missing after a break-in to a business on the 2500 block of Sandra Avenue in Centralia. It happened sometime between Friday and yesterday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

BURGLARY CHEHALIS

• Chehalis police took a report about 5:30 p.m. from an individual at the 300 block of Southwest Third Street from an individual who said they returned home from going out to dinner and discovered medication including oxycodone missing from the unlocked apartment.

PARCELS STOLEN OFF PORCH

• Centralia police were called yesterday morning to the 2800 block of Russell Road where a resident reported the theft of packages from their front porch. Missing are a remote control car, airplane and a doll, according to the Centralia Police Department.

WRECKS

• No serious injuries resulted but firefighters and medics responded around 6 o’clock yesterday morning to a two-vehicle collision on U.S. Highway 12 near Kiser Road and then to the area near Larmon Road where a responding trooper lost control of his car because of icy conditions. The trooper’s vehicle left the highway to the right, entered a ditch and struck a sign, according to the Washington State Patrol. Lewis County Fire District 8 Chief Duran McDaniel said he was told by his crew it was so icy, it was even difficult to stand up on the pavement.

• Two people were injured in a six-vehicle collision yesterday on Interstate 5 just south of Woodland that included a 43-year-old Toledo man driving a Freightliner with two trailers carrying chickens, according to the Washington State Patrol. Troopers called at 3:30 p.m. report a pickup truck lost control trying to avoid traffic in the left lane that was out with a loose dog and when the pickup truck came to rest, it was hit by a semi truck. Three vehicles that slowed were then struck by the Freightliner driven by Robert L. York, of Toledo, according to the state patrol. York was cited for following too closely and going too fast, the investigating trooper reports. The northbound lanes were partially blocked for several hours. The (Vancouver) Columbian reports 50 to 60 chickens got loose when some of the crates hauled by York broke open and had to be rounded up.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, obstructing; responses for alarms, suspicious circumstances … and more.