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News brief: Flood damage information requested

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 5:39 am
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State Route 131 south of Randle on Tuesday morning. / Courtesy photo by Chief Gene Seiber, Lewis County Sheriff's Office

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter


Residents or business owners who sustained damage from flooding are urged to report a dollar estimate as soon as possible to the Lewis County Division of Emergency Management.

Call 360-740-1152, leave a message with name and phone number and staff will return the calls, a news release from Emergency Management yesterday states.

Those in Centralia need to call 360-623-1373.

The information will be used in an attempt to secure a presidential disaster declaration, which could then allow for FEMA recovery assistance and or low interest loans.

“We need the approximate dollar damage figures as soon as possible to help us determine the needs of our citizens,”
Emergency Management Deputy Director Sgt. Ross McDowell stated in the news release.

The sooner the totals are received, the sooner citizens may be able to receive FEMA funding, the news release states.

Homeowners and renters need to be prepared to share an estimated dollar loss, insurance information  and assessed value of the homes.

Businesses can report loses of inventory, economic losses and damages to their buildings.

Estimates don’t need to come from a contractor but can be rough estimates, the news release states.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported yesterday morning no obvious damage to public infrastructure during the weekend flooding and reminds citizens to continue to monitor river and weather conditions.

For further information, visit Lewis County Division of Emergency Management.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 6:53 pm

SAFE CRACKER SNEAKS INTO TOLEDO BUSINESS

• Somebody broke into a Toledo restaurant, prying open a safe and taking approximately $1,500, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy called just before 7 a.m. yesterday to the Country House restaurant on the 400 block of state Route 506 noted videotape was obtained that showed a male wearing a blue and white flannel shirt.

CAR NEARLY SUBMERGED IN CENTRALIA DITCH

• Four individuals managed to escape from a car on Saturday afternoon that flipped upside down into a water-filled ditch off North Gold Street in Centralia and was submerged up to its floor boards, according to authorities. Aid and police were called about 3:30 p.m. to the scene just north of Maple Street, according to police. The occupants were left with just bumps and bruises, according to the Centralia Police Department. The 19-year-old driver of the Acura Integra was cited for going too fast, according to police.

CREEPY-NESS

• Chehalis police were called about 8:45 p.m. on Saturday by a woman who said her daughter had received a phone call from a restricted number in which a male advised he was looking in her window, and when the daughter looked out, he said he could see her. An officer responding to the 500 block of Riverside Drive did not find anyone outside, according to police.

• Police were called on Saturday to a Centralia cemetery on the 1100 block of Cavenss Drive where somebody had been knocking over grave stones the previous few nights.

WITNESS INTIMIDATION REPORTED

• A deputy took a report on Saturday from a 24-year-old Centralia woman who said she had received a phone call from a man who threatened to kill her and her family if she testified at a trial related to a drive-by shooting case from Chehalis, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A referral was made to the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office for possible charge of intimidating a witness, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

CHURCH BREAK-INS

• Centralia police were called about 8:30 a.m. yesterday to a report of a burglary to a church office on the 700 block of Park Way.

• Centralia police were called about 2 p.m. on Sunday to an apparent attempted break-in at a church office on the 200 block of North Washington Street.

THEFTS AND BURGLARIES

• Centralia police took a report yesterday of a burglary to a shop on the 600 block of West Third Street.

• Centralia police were directed to an abandoned vehicle about 9:30 p.m. last night on the 1200 block of West Pear Street that turned out to be stolen out of Thurston County, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called about 7:50 a.m. on Sunday to Adams Avenue about a black 987 Mazda pickup truck stolen within the previous two hours. Shortly after that, an officer responded to a blue 1989 Mazda pickup truck stolen sometime after 7 a.m. on Washington Avenue.

• Chehalis police were called Saturday afternoon to a former shoe store on Kresky Avenue that had been burglarized. Seven pairs of shoes were missing, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Two chainsaws were stolen from the back of a work truck on the 600 block of Leonard Road in Onalaska sometime between 12:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The loss is estimated at $1,800.

• A chainsaw, two wall heaters and a finish sander were discovered missing on Friday from a storage building on the 900 block of Davis Lake Road near Morton, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Somebody forced their way inside damaging the door frame and lock, the sheriff’s office reported.

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s office took a report of a theft that occurred sometime between Dec. 20 to Dec. 25 of a handmade Amish mini horse wagon and a leather show harness from a barn on the 2500 block of Seminary Hill Road outside Centralia. The loss is estimated at $3,000, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy brown.

• Custom rims and tires, along with a piece of a sound system, were stolen from inside a vehicle on the 1100 block of South Pearl Street in Centralia, according to a  report made yesterday afternoon.

DUI FOLLOWS WRECK

• A 41-year-old man from Curtis was arrested for driving under the influence after a single-vehicle collision into a ditch early on Friday morning near the 1400 block of South Schueber Road, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning. Robert D. Smith was arrested. His Ford Ranger truck sustained an estimated $750 damage, the sheriff’s office noted. His injuries were not reported by the sheriff’s office.

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River dropping in Randle

Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 8:25 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Randle area Fire Chief Jeff Jaques said the Cowlitz River at Randle is dropping slowly and he expects it will be a few hours before the closed roads will reopen.

The river level was just over 20 feet at 7 a.m. today.

The National Weather Service reports the river crested at just over 22 feet yesterday. Flood stage is 18 feet.

Jaques said it has been a fairly uneventful weekend of just monitoring the river.

U.S. Highway 12 just east of the intersection with state Route 131 was closed, and a detour put in place on Silverbrook Road. State Route 131 which leads out towards Cispus was closed as well.

“We didn’t get a single call for anyone wanting to be rescued” or any emergency calls, Jaques said this morning.

Most people in the area have been through it before and know how to deal with flooding, he said.

“I think that big flood in 2006 got everyone’s attention,” Jaques said.

In November 2006 the Cowlitz River rose to just over 25 feet, some seven feet beyond its flood stage, causing major damage to the community.

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Read about Castle Rock, locations in Lewis County see competition as site for new state prison …

Monday, January 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Longview) Daily News reports the city of Castle Rock, two groups in Winlock, one in Morton and another in Grand Mound are among 15 groups seeking consideration for a new 1000-bed prison facility the state Department of Corrections wants to build

DOC plans to construct a what it calls a new male reception center and would like to put it in Western Washington.

News reporter Barbara LaBoe writes that state officials hope to choose three finalists by March and make a final decision by year’s end.

Read LaBoe’s story here

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River still rising in Randle

Sunday, January 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm
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Monday Jan. 17, 2011: The Cowlitz River at Skate Creek Road Bridge in Packwood this morning. The river was high and fast yesterday afternoon but has gone down a bit this morning. / Courtesy photo by Bill Serrahn

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

More than an inch of rain is expected in the mountains tonight, leaving some in Randle cautiously monitoring the Cowlitz River which has already begun flooding.

The fire department this morning went door to door advising residents in low-lying areas to evacuate. Some have, and some, like Per and Pearl Fjugstad are staying.

“We’re high and dry, it’s not a problem,” Per Fjugstad said about 6 o’clock tonight.

The couple, who live on McKay Street just off U.S. Highway 12 near the center of town, however, are surrounded by water.

In November 2006 when the Cowlitz River rose to just over 25 feet, some seven feet beyond its flood stage, theirs was the only home on McKay Street that did not get water inside. But the following year, they built themselves a new house across the street eight inches higher.

One of their neighbors departed a couple of hours earlier and another moved to her upstairs, Per Fjugstad said. He estimated the water was a little more than two feet deep at that end of the street.

“It’s not raining right now,” Per Fjugstad said. “In fact, I don’t think it’s rained in the last couple three hours. That’s gonna help us a lot.”

This morning’s forecast indicated the river could crest at almost 24 feet, but the latest prediction is for just less than 23 feet.

Lewis County Fire District 14 Chief Jeff Jaques said this evening U.S. Highway 12 just east of the intersection with state Route 131 is closed, as expected, but a detour is in place on Silverbrook Road.

And state Route 131 which leads out towards Cispus is closed.

A flood watch remains in effect for portions of Western Washington through tomorrow afternoon, including in Lewis, Thurston and Grays Harbor counties.

Flood warnings continue on the Cowlitz at Randle and Packwood, the Nisqually River near National, the Newaukum River near Chehalis, the Chehalis River at Grand Mound and the Skookumchuck River near Bucoda.

The National Weather Service cautions those living near “unwarned” rivers in the watch area should continue to monitor the latest weather forecasts and warnings until the watch has ended.

Some of those rivers have crested already, such as the Newaukum River, and the Cowlitz at Packwood.

•••

Continuously updated conditions, warnings and forecasts in more detail can be found from the National Weather Service’s website by clicking on “Weather forecasts” and “River levels” beneath “Other useful web links” on the right hand side of Lewis County Sirens pages.

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Breaking news: Mudslide near Bear Canyon, smaller slide on Highway 12 near Morton

Sunday, January 16, 2011 at 12:57 pm
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Slide on state Route 508 at Bear Canyon. / Courtesy photo by Washington State Department of Transportation

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Landslides have closed sections of three Southwest Washington highways including state Route 508 at Bear Canyon, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Crews are on the scenes clearing mud, rocks, trees and power lines, according to a noontime news release from the DOT.

Drivers should take alternate routes.

One slide is on state Route 411 near Hazel Dell Road in Kelso and the third is on state Route 14 near Cape Horn, according to the news release.

A smaller slide is being cleared on U.S. Highway 12 near Davis Lake Road near Morton, DOT reported.

Update at 5:40 p.m.: Late this afternoon, DOT reported crews are continuing to work on clearing the slide at Bear Canyon, but noted it will be closed to all traffic overnight.

As heavy rain, slides and flooding are impacting multiple highways across the region, DOT advises motorists to check conditions on its web site before traveling.

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After cleanup Sunday: the slide on U.S. Highway 12 near Morton. / Courtesy photo by Jennifer Mau

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The Tilton River on Sunday in Morton at Main Avenue. / Courtesy photo by Jennifer Mau

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Breaking news: Evacuations advised in Randle as river rises

Sunday, January 16, 2011 at 10:40 am

This was updated at 12:30 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Fire department crews are going door to door in low-lying areas of Randle this morning and advising residents to evacuate, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

In Packwood, the fire department is advising citizens to monitor the level of the Cowlitz River themselves and be prepared to evacuate if necessary, the sheriff’s office reports.

A flood warning was issued last night for the Cowlitz River which forecast major flooding in the Randle area and moderate flooding in Packwood.

The current forecast is the river could crest in Randle at almost 24 feet around 4 o’clock tomorrow morning, but water is expected to cover U.S. Highway 12 in that area by this afternoon or early evening, according to the sheriff’s office and the National Weather Service.

The river floods in Randle at 18 feet and it was at about that level at 9:30 this morning, according to the weather service.

Flood stage in Packwood is 10.5 feet and the river reached about that level around 11:15 a.m. today. It is predicted to crest about one foot higher around 10 p.m. tonight.

The sheriff’s office cautions citizens to be safe and not drive through standing water.

In the November 2006 flooding around Randle and Packwood, a man drowned after driving his truck through water which swept it and him away.

The Lewis County Emergency Operations Center is set to open this afternoon as officials prepare for anticipated flooding.

The National Weather Service has issued flood warnings in several counties, including Lewis, Thurston, Pierce, King, Snohomish, Pacific, Yakima and eastern Grays Harbor counties.

A flood watch on the Newaukum River near Chehalis was upgraded at 9:40 a.m. today to a flood warning.

Heavy rain over the southern Washington Cascade Mountains overnight and today will drive the Newaukum over flood stage later today which will likely continue into tomorrow, the weather service reports.

Minor flooding is expected.

The current prediction is the Newaukum will crest near 11.7 feet – about a foot over flood stage of 10.5 feet – around 10 p.m. tonight.

At 10.5 feet, flood waters will inundate many roads, residential and commercial areas along the Newaukum and its forks. Some areas may be deep and hazardous, the weather service cautions.
•••

Continuously updated conditions, warnings and forecasts in more detail can be found from the National Weather Service’s website by clicking on “Weather forecasts” and “River levels” beneath “Other useful web links” on the right hand side of Lewis County Sirens pages.

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Flood watch upgraded to warning on Cowlitz, plus urban streams

Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 11:09 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Update: The forecasts for some river levels were increased again at 11:12 p.m., except for the Cowlitz below the Mayfield dam which was decreased. Check them here

The National Weather Service has issued flood warnings now for the Cowlitz River at Packwood, Randle, and below Mayfield Dam.

A flood warning means that flooding is imminent or has been reported.

Major flooding is possible on the Cowlitz, the weather service reported at 8:38 p.m. tonight.

The weather service describes that as rising above flood stage at Randle around 7 a.m. tomorrow and cresting at 23.2 feet about 10 a.m. on Monday.

At 22 feet, the river will cause major flooding from Randle and downstream through Riffe Lake, and what the weather service calls dangerous inundation of many roads including U.S. Highway 12, residential, commercial areas and farms. Flooding can be expected along the river, its headwaters, tributaries and other streams within and near the Cowlitz River Basin.

In Packwood, moderate flooding is expected.

Below Mayfield dam, minor flooding is expected. Flood waters will inundate some farmlands and several roads, mainly near Toledo, according to the weather service.

Moderate flooding is also expected on the Nisqually River near National.

A flood warning has also been issued tonight for urban areas and small streams in Lewis, Mason, Thurston and eastern Grays Harbor counties until 2 p.m. Sunday.

Expect widespread flooding of small streams to begin late tonight, the weather service reports.
•••
Scroll down to see what Randle area Fire Chief Jeff Jaques expects at 22 feet.
•••

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Flood watch continues through Monday

Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 7:52 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A flood watch first issued Thursday for portions of Western Washington including Lewis County has been extended through Monday afternoon.

Yet another system expected to bring substantial rainfall late today through tomorrow, combined with high snow levels of 8,000 to 9,000 feet could drive many rivers over flood stage, according to the National Weather Service.

For comparison, White Pass is at an elevation of 4,500 feet.

The potential is for minor to moderate flooding, the weather service’s mid-day forecast notes.

The Cowlitz River at Randle is forecast to exceed flood stage by the most and crest sooner than most rivers around Lewis County.

By 10 p.m. tomorrow, the river could be just over major flood stage of 22 feet.

Lewis County Fire District 14 Chief Jeff Jaques said at that level, “it’s not going to inundate a bunch of homes or anything.”

However, Jaques said this evening, he expects U.S. Highway 12 will be under water and closed with a detour on Silverbrook Road at Randle. And state Route 131 out towards Cispus will likely be covered with water well, he said.

“Fortunately we don’t have a lot of snow in the mountains like we did in 2006,” he said.

In November 2006, rain combined with a big snowmelt lifted the Cowlitz River to just over 25 feet devastating areas around Randle and Packwood.

The fire chief said it was reasonable dry today and only began raining a few hours ago.

It’s not a huge issue until it gets around 23 to 24 feet in Randle, he said.

The community saw levels of about 22 feet in both January 2009 and November 2008, according to Jaques.

Within the past hour, the weather service changed its expectation of the river at Randle, now forecasting it may crest at just over 23 feet around 10 o’clock Monday morning.

A flood watch means conditions are favorable for flooding but flooding is not imminent or occurring.

Two to five inches of rain are expected in the Cascade and Olympic mountains through tomorrow.

The ongoing wet weather has prompted cautions about potential mudslides around Western Washington and also an avalanche warning in the mountains through tomorrow.

The Newaukum River near Chehalis is forecast to crest about a foot over flood stage around 10 o’clock tomorrow morning.

The Skookumchuck River at Bucoda is also forecast to crest about a foot over flood stage but not until 10 p.m. tomorrow night. It’s expected to remain below flood stage in Centralia.

And about 10 a.m. on Monday, the Chehalis River at Centralia and Grand Mound is expected to crest between one and a half and two feet above flood stage.

•••

Watch the river levels and their forecasts for yourself here now or, anytime, by clicking on “River levels” under “Other useful web links” on the right hand side of Lewis County Sirens pages.

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Prosecution’s theory on slaying: Somebody stole Robert Maddaus’s drugs

Friday, January 14, 2011 at 4:59 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

OLYMPIA – She used meth. He sold drugs, she said.

She was 25 years old and had been staying with him at his mobile home in Rochester.

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Robert J. Maddaus Jr.

Jessica Abear described Nov. 13, 2009 as she answered questions from attorneys in Thurston County Superior Court yesterday.

“I was sleeping on the couch, I remember waking up to the door being kicked in and the people saying ‘freeze’,” she said.

Abear, now 26, recalled thinking it was three, maybe four, people, who ran in and down the hallway, as someone tall held a gun to her head and told her not to move. She vaguely remembers a bandana and sunglasses, she said.

“I remember them – I don’t know if this was because I was coming out of a dead sleep – maybe speaking another language,” she said. “The only thing I did hear in English was ‘I’ve got it’.”

They were in and out really quick.

“I want to say a Mexican accent, but speaking Russian,” she said.

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Shaun Allen Peterson

Abear is a witness in the murder trial of Robert J. Maddaus Jr. The 41-year-old Rochester man is charged in the death of Shaun A. Peterson who was found handcuffed and fatally shot on an Olympia street early on Nov. 16, 2009.

Maddaus is charged with first-degree murder, as well as four counts of witness tampering. He was also charged in the same case with attempted kidnapping and second-degree assault of Abear, which allegedly occurred just days before Peterson was killed.

Witnesses testified earlier this week Maddaus was a dealer trying to track down who’d stolen drugs and cash from him in the days before Peterson was slain.

Olympia resident Eric Gripp told the court Maddaus showed up at his fifth-wheel home earlier that weekend holding a gun, and said he’d lost “… four pounds of crystal, a pound of marijuana and $15,000, I think.”

Yesterday, as Abear sat on the witness stand for more than an hour, she described running next door to Maddaus’s mother’s house to tell her he’d just been robbed and to call him. She didn’t know where he was.

She said she returned to the mobile home, and grabbed a can of bear mace.

“Yeah, I was concerned maybe those people would come back and I was concerned how Bobby would feel about it,” she said. “I was afraid he would think I had something to do with it.”

Under questioning, Abear told what happened after Maddaus arrived at his home some 10 minutes later.

“He was pissed,” she said.

Maddaus didn’t believe her story and thought she was protecting someone, she said.

“Yeah, he hit me in the head with the butt of a gun, sprayed me with bear mace, ripped my clothes off and shot me with a paintball gun,” she said. “He acted like he was going to shoot me in the foot. He told me to stick my foot out, saying he was going to get it out of me.”

“Were you afraid?” Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Bruneau asked her.

“Yes, very,” she said.

Bruneau elicited that she heard Maddaus’s end of a telephone conversation telling someone he needed a place to take her “to get information.”

When Maddaus headed down the hallway, she ran back to his mother’s house, wearing her pajama shorts, she said.

Testimony from Gripp on Wednesday describes that Abear phoned him, her ex-boyfriend, crying, saying she needed to be picked up.

“She reeked of mace, she was hysterical,” Gripp said. “So everybody in my car kind of got exposed to it.”

They took her to his Olympia home and used milk to neutralize the mace, he said. Gripp said he saw some 30 quarter-sized welts on Abear’s body.

Gripp said it didn’t seem “comfortable” the way Maddaus had paced back and forth outside, talking on a cell phone when Gripp had taken Abear away from the Rochester property, so he told his neighbor, “If anybody shows up, call the cops.”

Within two or three hours, Maddaus, holding a gun, and four other people were knocking on his door, Gripp said.

“He said he was looking for Jessica Abear,” he said.

“He said he’d lost a lot of personal property,” Gripp said. “Yeah, drugs. Then I decided it was okay to let her talk to them.”

Abear told the court Maddaus was less angry, but still thought she set up the robbery and wanted the truth out of her.

The neighbor must have called the police.

“The phone rang, it was the cop,” Abear said. “I handed the phone to Eric, I told everyone, ‘the cops are coming, get out of here’.”

When Thurston County sheriff’s deputy David Claridge arrived, she was in the bedroom area.

Abear said she told him she didn’t want to talk to him.

“I didn’t think it would help,” she said. “I thought it would probably make the situation worse.”

But about two weeks later, Abear did allow a detective to take photos of her injuries and interview her, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Bruneau said yesterday.

“I didn’t really have a choice, they already knew what happened,” she said.

Maddaus was arrested in Chehalis almost two weeks after Peterson’s death, following a high speed pursuit through the Chehalis Industrial Park.

After he was apprehended, a search of the Corvette in which he was a passenger turned up a nine millimeter pistol, more than $35,000 cash and a green backpack which contained two and a half pounds of methamphetamine, nearly a half pound of cocaine and almost one-third pound of heroin, according to charging documents in Thurston County Superior Court.

Maddaus is being held on $2 million bail.

Among the others who have testified in the first two days of Maddaus’s trial are an Olympia police detective, a forensic pathologist and examiners from the Washington State Crime Lab.

Olympia Police Officer Jeff Herbig described arriving to the scene where Peterson’s body was found about 4 a.m. on Nov. 16, 2009.

In the courtroom yesterday, Herbig identified various pieces of evidence he and his co-workers collected there, including a sweatshirt with holes in it laying on the street, a cell phone, and four shell casings.

Crime lab examiner Brenda Lawrence told the court the casings were from approximately 30 caliber bullets.

She identified them as what she called 7.62 x 25′s Tokarves, manufactured in China.

Dr. Eric Kiesel conducted Peterson’s autopsy.

Kiesel described a wound from a projectile that entered Peterson’s neck on his right side and exited the front; a fatal wound, he said.

Another entered his left arm and traveled through his chest before exiting; potentially fatal by itself, he said.

A gun shot wound on Peterson’s left forearm was described as superficial; contributory, he said.

The third injury looks different, because the projectile had either bounced off something or already gone through something, Kiesel said.

He speculated a bullet that exited Peterson’s neck could have struck the forearm that way, if Peterson’s cuffed hands were raised upward.

Charging documents allege Maddaus confronted Peterson about stealing his drugs while they were at an apartment on the 1800 block of Capitol Way Southeast in Olympia on the evening of Nov. 15, 2009 and the following morning.

Matthew Tremblay, who said he was present, said Peterson denied it and the three left the apartment, according to the allegations.

He said Peterson and Maddaus argued and then Maddaus fired about five shots, according to charging documents. Then Maddaus and Tremblay fled in Maddaus’s Jetta, he told authorities.

Maddaus has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He is represented by defense attorney Richard Woodrow.

His trial in Thurston County Superior Court in Olympia is expected to resume on Tuesday morning.

•••

Read about
• Day one of Maddaus’s trial, here
• Why the first jury pool had to be dismissed, here
• Why Maddaus was convicted of just simple possession in Lewis County last month, here
• How Maddaus refused to testify against Robbie Russell in September, here
• How Russell and Maddaus tried to outrun sheriff’s deputies a week and a half after Peterson’s death, here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, January 14, 2011 at 9:46 am

CLIENT AT SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE FIGHTS WITH GUARD, POLICE SAY

• A 64-year-old Onalaska woman was jailed yesterday after she allegedly swung her purse at a guard at the Social Security office in Centralia. Police Sgt. Carl Buster said the woman was asked to leave the Cooks Hill Road building after she became unruly, upset because she wasn’t being seen. She left, then returned and swung her purse at the guard and hit him repeatedly, according to Buster. “She got him several times before he was able to take her to the ground,” Buster said. Casandra N. Brower, 64, was arrested for third-degree assault and booked into the Lewis County Jail.

SHOPLIFTING GONE BAD

• A 27-year-old woman who allegedly shoplifted pens and hand lotion from a Centralia store was arrested for second-degree robbery yesterday because she shoved a clerk who told her to come back, according to the Centralia Police Department. An officer called about 9:30 p.m. to Fullers Market on the 500 block of South Tower Avenue found Lindsay C. Watson also was in possession of suspected heroin and methamphetamine, according to Sgt. Carl Buster. The Centralia woman was booked into the Lewis County Jail. Buster said what would have been a simple misdemeanor becomes a felony if a person uses force to take or retain property.

ORDINARY SHOPLIFTING

• Police were called back to the 500 block of South Tower Avenue about 6:15 a.m. today and detained a 23-year-old Centralia woman for shoplifting. Kari N. Driver was arrested and released, according to the Centralia Police Department.

AUTO THEFTS

• Centralia police reported the recovery of a stolen vehicle yesterday afternoon connected with a location of the 1000 block of North Schueber Road.

• Centralia police took a report of an apparent attempted theft of a vehicle on the 900 block of South Silver Street yesterday morning. Somebody got inside and tore the console apart as though trying to hot wire the vehicle, according to police.

BURGLARY

• Centralia police were called to a downtown business about 10:50 p.m. on Wednesday after a citizen reported a door was open. An officer responding to the location on the 100 block of North Tower Avenue found nobody inside but an owner subsequently discovered money was missing from the till.

THEFT

• Centralia police report an individual at the 1100 block of Stillwaters Avenue fell victim to a phone scam, according to a report taken by police on Wednesday.

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News brief: Flood watch issued

Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 11:44 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A flood watch is in effect from tomorrow morning through Sunday afternoon in several Western Washington counties including Lewis County.

The National Weather Service issued the watch just before 7 p.m. tonight, noting a series of at least three warm and wet weather systems are expected to move through bringing heavy rains.

A flood watch means conditions are favorable for flooding but flooding is not imminent or occurring.

Around noontime, the weather service noted the rivers appearing most at risk included the Lower Chehalis, Newaukum, Upper Puyallup, Snoqualmie and Snohomish rivers.

It appears that most flooding, if it occurs, will be minor, the weather service forecast this evening.

The expected amount of rain will put extra pressure on soil instability leading to an increased risk of more landslides, the weather service reported. Two landslides occurred today in Western Washington – one in Everett and another in Sumner.

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Rochester man’s trial begins in Olympia fatal shooting

Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 8:01 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

OLYMPIA – Witnesses testified yesterday that Rochester resident Robert J. Maddaus Jr. was a drug dealer trying to track down who’d stolen four to five pounds of methamphetamine from him before a 40-year-old acquaintance was found handcuffed and fatally shot on an Olympia street.

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Robert J. Maddaus Jr.

Shaun A. Peterson, 40, died early on the morning of Nov. 16, 2009.

Maddaus, now 41, was picked up by police about a week and half later in Chehalis.

Jurors in Thurston County Superior Court heard opening arguments yesterday from Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Bruneau and defense attorney Richard Woodrow. The trial is expected to take three weeks.

Woodrow says he plans to prove the actual gun man was Matthew Tremblay, an individual who was with Maddaus and Peterson that night, and when questioned by Olympia police, blamed Maddaus.

Maddaus is charged with first-degree murder, as well as four counts of witness tampering. He is also charged in the same case with attempted kidnapping and second-degree assault of a 25-year-old woman who said she was confronted by a gun-wielding Maddaus for her alleged part in the theft, according to charging documents.

Testimony began yesterday with Peterson’s girlfriend who said she and Peterson were living at her mother’s home in Tumwater in November 2009 after having a baby together the month before.

Peterson was unemployed though he did “side jobs” and sold drugs, Randi Henn said.

Henn said she’d met Maddaus a few months earlier and knew him as Bobby. “Bobby was his supplier, and friend, I guess,” she said.

She said the last time she saw Peterson was Sunday evening, Nov. 15, 2009. He’d been on the phone the phone with Maddaus, and he was going out to meet him, so they could confront who they’d thought stole the drugs, she said.

Other witnesses yesterday described hearing five gunshots in the neighborhood at the 1700 block of South Capitol Way Boulevard about 3 a.m. and seeing a dark car speed away.

One said he saw a man running and then jump into the back driver’s side of the car. Another saw it slam on its brakes and its driver get out and get into the passenger side before it drove off.

Peterson was laying on the street, with what looked like a gunshot in his neck and his hands cuffed in front of him when he died, said Olympia resident Michael Wallace who ran outside his home after hearing the shots.

•••

Read most recent previous news story on Robert Maddaus here

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Governor proclaims state of emergency for 17 counties, including Lewis

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 7:19 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The governor proclaimed a state of emergency today due to severe winter storms that affected several western and south central Washington counties between Dec. 8 and 18, according to a news release.

Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proclamation covers Lewis, Thurston, Grays Harbor,  Cowlitz, Pacific, Skamania, Wahkiakum, Mason, Pierce, King, Kitsap, Klickitat, Skagit, Snohomish, Whatcom, Clallam and Jefferson counties.

At various times over the 10-day period, bad weather produced snow, high winds, flooding, landslides, avalanches and power outages, according to the news release. The affected counties all experienced some level of extensive damage, the news release states.

For further information on what it means to victims with damage, check with county emergency management departments.

• Lewis County Division of Emergency Management here
• Thurston County Emergency Management here
• Grays Harbor County Emergency Management here

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Read about judge for Tenino, Tumwater, gets deferred prosecution for DUI …

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 6:56 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports a judge for Tenino and Tumwater was granted a deferred prosecution yesterday for driving under the influence as well as hit and run.

Read news reporter Jeremy Pawloski’s story here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 6:28 pm

BABY DELIVERED AT FIRE STATION, BY DAD

• Firefighters in Maytown got to help deliver a baby overnight, sort of. West Thurston Regional Fire Authority Battalion Chief Jacob Yake said a couple arrived at the fire station on Reeder Road about 3:30 this morning. “The car pulled into the fire station then started laying on its horn and as he was calling 911, he basically caught the baby.” A crew of three came outside and took mother and infant to the hospital, Yake said. The father returned later to announce it was a healthy baby boy, Yake said. It’s not uncommon for emergency responder to help with child birth, according to Yake, but “I don’t know we’ve ever had ‘em in the parking lot of the station.”

SPINOUTS AND ROLLOVERS

• Firefighters from Chehalis through Littlerock were kept super busy for about a two-hour period last night with calls for cars slipping off the roadways in the snow. No injuries were reported. The Chehalis Fire Department responded to one vehicle at Devries and Shorey Roads that had slid back down a hill, rolled and went down an embankment, narrowly missing a pond, according to Acting Capt. Derrick Paul. The calls began about 7 p.m. and added up to a half dozen, Paul said. Firefighters from Grand Mound, Rochester, Maytown and Littlerock must have answered close to a dozen calls of in the same period, according to West Thurston Regional Fire Authority Battalion Chief Jacob Yake

MYSTERY OPERATOR PUTS LOGGING EQUIPMENT TO WORK

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning somebody took a Cat 527 for a joy ride near where it had been parked along the 3000 line off Lincoln Creek Road outside Centralia. The subject also drove a 330 Cat shovel/loader sometime before early Monday morning and used the logging equipment to clear some brush and trees and lift up a gate belonging to the state Department of Natural Resources, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. The damage to the gat is estimated at $4,000.

FORGERY

• A woman who accidentally left her wallet in a shopping cart at K-Mart in Chehalis called police about 8:30 p.m. last night to say she learned somebody had used her credit card and before the night was over, police had tracked down a suspect who was arrested. Police detective Sgt. Rick McNamara said K-Mart called and said the card was being used a second time and somebody got a license plate of the connected vehicle. An officer found the motor home parked at a Chehalis apartment complex and contacted Noelle I. Straggi, 43, who was booked into the Lewis County Jail for forgery and possession of stolen property, McNamara said. The case involving a 53-year-old Centralia woman who was with her was referred for possible charges as well, McNamara said.

FIREARM THEFT

• A sheriff’s deputy took a report on Tuesday of a Springfield .45 caliber gun stolen from the 200 block of Jones Road in Winlock, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. An investigation led to Shannon L. Kerssen, 33, who was arrested and booked into jail for theft of a firearm, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

ATTEMPTED BURGLARY

• Centralia police say a 38-year-old Centralia man trespassed onto property where a house was being remodeled and tried to steal “property” before he was apprehended yesterday afternoon in Centralia. Douglas W. Lohman was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for attempted burglary an incident about 10:45 a.m. related to the 1000 block of Long Road, according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRUGS

• Centralia police arrested a 40-year-old man yesterday afternoon for an outstanding warrant and possession of methamphetamine. James A. Mueller of Chehalis was booked into the Lewis County Jail following his contact with an officer at the 300 block of Railroad Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department. The case was not charged, pending further investigation.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 6:28 pm

DEPUTIES FIND WANTED MAN HIDING IN BEDROOM

• Deputies ended up Tazing a man who allegedly punched them as he was being arrested yesterday afternoon in Onalaska. Deputies went to a home on the 100 block of Third Street East about 3:30 p.m. yesterday looking for a person wanted on several outstanding warrants, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. After a 44-year-old woman said he wasn’t there, but allowed them to look around, he was found in an upstairs bedroom, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said this morning. The 21-year-old Salkum man refused to cooperate and began assaulting the deputies, Brown said. His case is being referred for possible charges of third-degree assault and resisting arrest. The woman, Jacqueline L. Benard, was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for obstruction.

MAN PULLS GUN ON PAIR AT PARK

• Chehalis police weren’t able to find anybody after a report on Friday night a man came out of some bushes at Penny Playground, began yelling at a pair of 20-year-old men in a car there and pulled a handgun out of his pants. Chehalis detective Sgt. Rick McNamara said the Chehalis men were making some phone calls when it happened. The man, who headed toward 13th Street, was described as being about 6 feet tall and in his mid-to late 20s, McNamara said.

THIEVES REPEATEDLY TAKING POWER CORDS FROM FREEWAY JOB SITE

• A deputy took a report yesterday of about 450 feet of power cord getting stolen from where it was being used in a work area along Interstate 5 in Centralia. Sometime between Friday and Monday, several lengths of the cord – connected to pumps – went missing, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The supervisor from Tri-State Construction said it has happened several times over the past few months, mostly on weekends. The sheriff’ office is asking anyone with information to contact Lewis County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-748-6422.

CAR PROWL

• A cell phone and a camera were taken from a vehicle on the 1400 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to police about 3:30 yesterday afternoon.

VANDALISM

• Police were called around noontime yesterday about a vehicle window smashed out on the 1600 block of South Gold Street in Centralia.

RACING CARS

• Centralia police issued a citation to a driver spotted racing another motorist northbound on Tower Avenue about 9 o’clock last night. Brandon J. Weber, 25, of Centralia, was ticketed, according to the Centralia Police Department. The other car wasn’t found, police reported.

DRUGS

• A 22-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and an outstanding warrant after contact with a police officer about 10:50 a.m. yesterday on the 1300 block of Lakeshore Drive in Centralia. Spencer R. Barney was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CHEHALIS MAN BOOKED FOR TOUCHING 14-YEAR-OLD

• Chehalis police arrested a 51-year-old Chehalis man on Sunday night following a report he inappropriately touched a 14-year-old girl at a Chehalis church several days earlier. Kurt B. Hartman was booked into the Lewis County Jail for third-degree child molestation, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

CHIMNEY FIRE IN CENTRALIA

• Firefighters spent about an hour last night at a Centralia home putting out a chimney fire. Riverside Fire Authority called about 9:30 p.m. to the Eshom Road residence put water inside the fireplace insert but found it continued to burn higher inside the chimney. They then attacked it from the roof with their “chimney nozzle”, according to Fire Capt. Greg Schwartz.

BAD CIRCUIT BREAKER SPARKED WEDNESDAY ROCHESTER HOUSE FIRE

• A fire on Wednesday that burned part of a Rochester home and destroyed its garage as well as a travel trailer appeared to be caused by an electrical issue in the trailer, according to West Thurston Regional Fire Authority Chief Robert Scott. The chief said the early morning blaze on the 13,000 block of Southwest 188th Avenue was related to a bad circuit breaker. Four people were displaced by the fire that burned the upper part of the single-story house and left substantial smoke damage.

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Shared photos: Unsurvivable ball of fire

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 11:59 am
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A 1981 Chevrolet pickup and a 1997 Mazda Protege collided in Winlock on Friday night. / Courtesy photo by Jay Eyestone

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

After 19-year-old Jay Eyestone called 911 and watched with two drivers as their wrecked vehicles begin to burn, he ran back into his grandparent’s Winlock home and grabbed a camera.

It was about 11:45 p.m. on Friday night when a pickup truck lost control on state Route 505 near Harkins Road and was struck by an oncoming passenger car.

Troy A. Criscola, 19, of Centralia, and Travis M. Thompson, 26, of Winlock, had both gotten out of their vehicles and were standing on the road by the time Eyestone first got outside.

Eyestone said he loaned his phone to one of the drivers so they could call their family and began shooting photos as the fire roared and the tires on the truck exploded one by one.

Though both the Chevrolet pickup and the Mazda Protege were totaled, Criscola was uninjured and Thompson had only a knee injury and a cut on his hand, according to the Washington State Patrol.

One of the two firefighters arriving from Lewis County Fire District 15 described it as a ball of fire with two vehicles fully involved.

Firefighter Patrick Jacobson said he wasn’t sure what caused the vehicles to ignite, but said it was a “pretty good (bad) wreck.”

After the flames were knocked down, Jacobson scanned the interiors to see if they were occupied. They wouldn’t have survived, Jacobson said.

“When I pulled up, there were flames 30 feet in the air,” he said. “There wasn’t much we could have done to save them, if there were people in the cars.”

A trooper cited Criscola, the pickup’s driver, for going too fast.

Eyestone shared these photographs yesterday after returning to school at George Fox University in Newberg, Ore.

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The pickup and car were both destroyed in Friday night's crash in Winlock. / Courtesy photo by Jay Eyestone

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Former equestrian center developer sentenced for illegally filling wetlands

Monday, January 10, 2011 at 3:33 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The would-be developer of property near Toledo that many hoped would become home to a $70 million regional equestrian center was sentenced this morning for criminal violations of the Clean Water Act, to include four months of home confinement with electronic monitoring.

Philip A. Smith, 53, of Chehalis, pleaded guilty in September to the federal charges related to clearing 98 acres of wetlands without the required permits.

Smith was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma also to three years of probation, 100 hours of community service and $20,000 restitution payable to the Environmental Protection Agency for investigative costs, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Oesterle said in a written statement Smith undertook the widespread land clearing operation with full knowledge of what was required and deliberately chose to ignore the rules, likely hoping authorities would never discover his violations, or would merely impose limited corrective action and a nominal fine.

Inspectors discovered the activity in October 2007.

“Mr. Smith gambled and lost,” said Tyler Amon, special agent-in-charge for EPA”s criminal investigation division in Seattle said in a news release. “Unfortunately he was destroying valuable forested wetlands in the process.

“We will vigorously peruse and prosecute anyone who unlawfully damages natural resources for personal gain.”

Smith had sought to strike a deal with promoters of what was dubbed the Southwest Regional Equestrian Center and conducted land clearing over a period of two years ending in late 2007 on property he owned off the southeast quadrant of Interstate 5 at the Toledo-Winlock interchange.

He had a permit to log part of the 190 acres he owed, but had no state or federal permit to disturb the wetlands, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Much of the property is covered in wetlands and small streams that drain into Lacamas Creek, which flows into the Cowlitz River and ultimately the Columbia  River. Neither Smith or anyone associated with the project ever applied for the required permits, according to the news release.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury in Seattle for allegedly dumping fill material onto wetlands without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He admitted in September when he pleaded guilty, to excavating wetlands and stream channels and redepositing or discharging the materials into waters of the United States, according to the news release.

The equestrian center deal fell through after he was fined by the state Department of Ecology.

Smith was ordered in early 2008 by the Environmental Protection Agency to restore the disturbed wetland, but did not comply, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. A separate civil case has been filed requiring the restoration.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Oesterle noted in the news release that Smith had run afoul of the same laws in 1998 on a different parcel of property.

“Mr. Smith miscalculated the government’s interests in this case,” Oesterle wrote in his sentencing memo. “Rather than simply seek voluntary compliance as was sought in 1998, the government pursued criminal sanctions.”

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, January 10, 2011 at 10:05 am

UNZIPPING IN ALGEBRA CLASS GETS STUDENTS IN TROUBLE

• A pair of 17-year-old boys found themselves in trouble on Friday after reportedly exposing themselves during an algebra class at Toledo High School. A deputy called to the school on Friday was told by three individuals the boys called out their names and when they looked, they saw the boys private parts out of their pants, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The incident is to be referred to the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office for possible charges of indecent exposure, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

MAN JAILED FOLLOWING KNIFE THREAT

• A 40-year-old Winlock man was arrested after allegedly threatening his wife with a kitchen knife, telling her he would kill her or she would have to kill him during a dispute involving his concern she might take his children away, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy called about 10 p.m. on Friday to the 100 block of Nelson Road outside Winlock arrested Miguel Jorge Sanchez Cisneros. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree assault, domestic violence.

HONDA REPORTED STOLEN

• Centralia police were called yesterday about another stolen Honda, this one from the 300 block of North Diamond Street. The green 1995 car went missing sometime between midnight and about 1 p.m., according to police. Its license plate reads 609 TWD.

OTHER STUFF STOLEN

• Centralia police were called Saturday morning to a store on the 1300 block of Lum Road after an arriving employee discovered the front window smashed out and “items” stolen.

• A Still chainsaw was taken from the bed of a truck on the 3000 block of Russell Road in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday. It occurred sometime in the night, according to police.

• Police took a report yesterday of a vehicle prowl on the 200 block of West Oakview Avenue in Centralia which reportedly occurred sometime on Friday night.

• Items were stolen from a “front loader” along Beach Road off U.S. Highway 12 near Mossyrock according to a report made Friday to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Batteries, cable and diesel fuel were among the missing items, according to the sheriff’s office.

VANDALISM

• A deputy was called to Onalaska Saturday to a report somebody slashed four ties on a vehicle and “keyed” both sides and its hood. It happened at the 300 block of Second Avenue West, leaving an estimated $1,400 damage, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Four tires were slashed on a vehicle on the 100 block of North Iron Street, according to a report made to Centralia police on Saturday afternoon.

DRUGS

• Centralia police arrested a 24-year-old man about 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Shell station on the 1000 block of Ellsbury Street for possession of methamphetamine. Matthew L. Emery, of Centralia, was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

ICY ROAD CRASH

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning that two vehicles were totaled in a wreck on Friday night at the 200 block of Twin Oaks Road outside Chehalis related to extremely icy and rainy conditions. A deputy called about 11:45 p.m. to the scene cited one driver for third-degree driving with a suspended license and not having insurance, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. Neither driver was injured, the sheriff’s office said.

CHICKENS SURVIVE STRUCTURE FIRE

• An outbuilding that was home to several chickens north of Napavine was destroyed by a fire last night, but all the poultry survived, according to Lewis County Fire District 5. Firefighters were called about 5:20 p.m. to the 500 block of Newaukum Valley Road, according to Lt. Laura Hanson. The 12-foot by 24-foot structure contained tools and other type-items, she said. Hanson said she didn’t know exactly how, but she understood the 10 chickens escaped. The cause is under investigation, she said.

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Child alerts family to fire, eight escape burning home

Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 9:39 pm
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A fire investigator is looking at a possible electrical issue as a cause to last night's blaze on Harms Road. / Courtesy photo by Ted McCarty

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 4-year-old boy is being credited with alerting family members to a fire last night in the Ethel area that destroyed the upper level of a home.

Eight people were in the house on the 100 block of Harms Road and Kurt Mullins had just put his two little grandchildren, ages 4 and 5, to bed upstairs, Fire Investigator Ted McCarty said this morning.

“Shortly after, the kids yelled they could smell smoke in the bedroom,” McCarty said. “He went in, found fire in a storage space, and at that point he gathered up the kids, and a couple older kids and they all got outside,” McCarty said.

Lewis County Fire District 8 Assistant Chief Don Taylor today called Byron Wilson “our local hero”. Taylor didn’t have the name of the other child.

A smoke alarm also went off and everyone escaped unhurt, Taylor said.

McCarty described the occupants as Mullins. his wife, three children and three grandchildren.

The 9 p.m. call to Lewis County Fire District 8 drew some 35 firefighters from four districts.

McCarty called it a stubborn fire.

When the second crew to enter the 1920s wood-frame house attempted to get upstairs, the stairwell was too hot and there was fire overhead so they had be pulled out, responders said.

Taylor, the incident commander, said they sprayed about 25,000 gallons of water on the fire.

The upper story was burned off and parts of it it collapsed down into the first floor.

McCarty said it appeared to start in the storage area under the roof’s eves and he’s looking at an electrical issue for the cause, but has nothing concrete yet.

The house is insured, he said. The Red Cross was contacted to assist the residents.

Taylor said it was knocked down by 3 a.m. and the last firefighters didn’t depart until about 6:30 this morning.

It’s been a record-breaking year for the Salkum area fire district as far as structure fires, Taylor said.

Last month, a Christmas Day fire chased six people out of a burning mobile home on Maple Crest Drive, and the month before, firefighters spent Thanksgiving night extinguishing a blaze at Misty Morning Dairy.

“Five, maybe six, would be a busy year,” Taylor said. “This past year, I think we’ve had somewhere in the neighborhood of 15.”

The assistant fire chief didn’t have a good idea of why so many fires, but he is concerned it won’t slow down anytime soon.

“We had that earthquake and it’s guaranteed it damaged several fireplaces or chimneys” he said. “And I don’t know if people realize this.”

As winter continues and folks use their fireplaces more, the creosote can be expected to keep building up, he said, and damaged masonry is vulnerable.

While he isn’t pointing to that as a cause of the Harms Road blaze, Taylor said the bricks in portions of the chimney there were packed with the flammable material.

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Toledo man ordered back to mental hospital

Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 5:09 pm
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Rodney Wallace and his mother Darlene Wallace wait for an elevator in the Lewis County Law and Justice Center after his hearing on Thursday.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Toledo resident Rodney Wallace won his freedom from a state mental hospital this summer but found himself back in court last week after the hospital review board found signs he was slipping back into his mental illness.

The farm mechanic was 37 when he was found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity of second-degree assault and felony eluding for a July 2005 incident in which he was accused of trying to run down his father and two deputies with a tractor near the family’s Toledo home. He had a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Under state law, the hospital could hold Wallace as long as the maximum time he would have gotten if convicted, which is 10 years, but in August his attorney persuaded a judge Wallace was stabilized and should be allowed to live with his parents, Ralland and Darlene Wallace.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt granted Wallace a release with conditions; among the requirements: that he take his medications, refrain from consuming alcohol, and meet regularly with both a community mental health professional and Western State Hospital’s community nurse.

But, Wallace was returned to the hospital in October after a meeting with the hospital’s therapist in which he described talking to his grandparents in heaven, complaining the FBI was following him and that his face was red, literally painted red, according to Senior Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher.

On Thursday, Wallace, his lawyer, his private psychologist, family and friends went before Judge Hunt in an attempt to convince him the hospital was overreacting in claiming he should remain locked up.

Meagher argued for the hospital.

“What the review board concluded was there were signs of decompensation, and that’s one of the conditions of his orders,” Meagher told the judge.

Wallace’s lawyer Zenon Olbertz suggested it was unreasonable to revoke the conditional release, especially since the hospital’s gradual recovery program means a minimum of a 13-month stay.

Olbertz said his client has followed the court’s requirements, taking his medications, seeing his therapists, and “there’s not one sentence in the record, since 2005, that he’ ever been a danger to anybody.”

He downplayed the report of delusional thinking.

“If everybody who has these kinds of thoughts were swept off the street, we wouldn’t have enough places to put them,” Olbertz said.

Hunt said the present situation was “almost predicted” before Wallace was allowed to return to the family farm in August. He revoked Wallace’s conditional release.

“I give a great deal of deference to Western State Hospital,” Hunt said. “I’m unwilling to subject the community to that risk.”

•••

Read “Toledo man released from Western State Hospital” from Thursday Aug. 19, 2010 here