Posts Tagged ‘By Sharyn L. Decker’

Tinder dry conditions put fire departments on alert

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Firefighters stopped a field fire in Toledo from spreading this afternoon. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 2

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

It’s fire weather.

Any fires that get started could spread rapidly with the combination of wind and low humidity through this evening, according to the National Weather Service.

It’s hot, it’s dry and northeast winds from 8 to 14 mph, and afternoon gusts near 20 mph, are what’s fueled the concern.

The so-called red flag warning is in effect for the Interstate 5 corridor from Lewis to King counties until 9 o’clock tonight, according to the weather service.

Already today, a Toledo area resident’s grass field caught on fire while he was using his tractor and brush hog attachment.

“Maybe the blade hit a rock or a piece of metal in the field, caused a spark, and away she went,”  Lewis County Fire District 2 Chief Grant Wiltbank said. “It’s really dry.”

The flames charred about a half an acre on the 100 block of Boone Road.

Three members of the department who responded to the 2:18 p.m. call quickly extinguished the fire, Wiltbank said.

Wiltbank said it’s the most tinder dry conditions he’s seen in the seven years he’s been in Lewis County.

Had the field fire jumped Boone Road, he said, it would have taken several fire districts to contain it.

The chief suggests that for the next couple of days folks do all the things they know they should do in terms of being extra careful, such as not leaving a barbecue or recreational fire unattended.

“Until it cools off and we get some rain, the fire danger is going to remain high,” he said.


Flames charred about a half an acre on the 100 block of Boone Road. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 2

Mineral house fire spreads to several outbuildings, brush, trees

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Thank goodness for texting and the old-fashioned siren at the Mineral Fire Station.

A fire broke out yesterday afternoon in a vacant two-story building and dispatchers weren’t able to tone out the volunteer fire department.

Fire Chief Kevin Mounce got a text message about it and his son, a firefighter, alerted other firefighters by activating the backup siren.

The “repeater” was down,” Mounce said.

The delay was somewhere between two and five minutes, but it was the kind of fire fight that needed all the resources that could be mustered.

The fire spread to three outbuildings, as well as brush and trees behind the house, the chief said.

“It was a mess,” he said.

Crews spent six hours battling the blaze in yesterday’s hot dry weather, with help from five neighboring departments, according to Mounce.

It started on the 100 block of Maple Lane, ignited an attic fire in a bunk house and burned the roofs of a tool shed and a garage, he said.

It was just west of the old Mineral School.

“What I was worried about was catching the roof on the school,” he said.

One firefighter was injured, and went to Morton General Hospital for X-rays of his hand.

At one point, a good samaritan brought coolers full of Gatorade and water for firefighters, he said. “So that was nice,” he said.

This morning, Mounce returned to put out “hot spots”, he said.

The house had no electricity to it. An investigator was heading up there today to try to determine the cause.

Police confrontation ends with man fatally shot in Littlerock

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Updated at 2:50 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A man in the Littlerock area is dead after an exchange of gun fire with police today.

Deputies were called about 11:45 a.m. to the 6200 block of Maytown Road Southwest about a man with a gun possibly shooting at passing motorists, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.

When deputies arrived, the man went inside his house, sheriff’s Lt. Greg Elwin said.

Deputies, troopers and Tenino police surrounded the home.

At one point, he fired what appeared to be a rifle at deputies in the front, Elwin said. He then presented himself on the back porch with what looked like a handgun and shots were fired, according to Elwin.

“The suspect is shot, aid is administered, EMS arrives and the shooter ends up, he’s deceased,” Elwin said.

The lieutenant, speaking from the scene, said he didn’t yet know who the man is. Update: He was 70 years old, according to the sheriff’s office.


See video from, here

Goat Rocks search: Injured couple wave orange sleeping bag at pilot

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A pair of injured hikers from Oklahoma were plucked out of a snowfield by a helicopter in East Lewis County after they were spotted from above by waving their orange sleeping bag.

The 58-year-old woman had cut her legs, face and arms as she attempted to help her husband who accidentally slid approximately 60 feet down a snow and ice field yesterday in the Goat Rocks Wilderness area, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The 62-year-old man struck his head on rocks on the way down and suffered hip pain and possible head trauma, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

They are currently being treated at Morton General Hospital, Brown said.

The injured couple spent the night waiting for help after making a satellite phone call yesterday to the Forest Service. They were hoisted about 11:30 a.m. today into the King County Sheriff’s Office Guardian helicopter.

A pair of Lewis County sheriff’s deputies set off on foot about 7:30 a.m. today trying to locate the man and woman. The couple had relayed they were near Hart Lake, south of Packwood.

Retired sheriff’s detective Dave Neiser flew the sheriff’s office plane over the area this morning looking for signs of the pair. Neiser spotted the orange sleeping bag.

Brown said the couple had hiked in the area before and returned because they loved it so much the last time.

They were only hours into their hike when the accident occurred, she said. They were well-prepared with food and supplies for a four-day trek, according to Brown.

Packwood Search and Rescue as well as the Lewis County Posse horse team assisted in the search this morning, according to Brown.

News brief: Chill with city employees in Centralia

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

With temperatures forecast in Centralia for the mid to high 90s tomorrow and Thursday, the city is inviting folks without air conditioning to hang out in the city council chambers.

Individuals are welcome to spend time in a temperature controlled environment between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on those two days, according to Centralia Police Chief Bob Berg. Water will be available.

It could reach 98 degrees tomorrow, according to the National Weather Service.

Authorities advise heat illnesses are possible, so people should stay out of the sun, drink plenty of water, wear a hat and use sunscreen. The weather service suggests it’s a good idea to check up on relatives and neighbors.

Centralia City Hall is located at 118 W. Maple St.

Children younger than 12 must be accompanied and supervised.

Additionally, a red flag warning is in place for much of Western Washington including the Southwest Interior, because the combination of high heat, low humidity and strong winds will create the potential for explosive fire growth.

Search: Injured couple waits for help in wilderness area

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A pair of deputies are hiking into the Goat Rocks Wilderness area this morning trying to find two injured hikers who slipped and fell while trekking through snow fields yesterday.

One of them, using his satellite phone, was able to relay they were near Hart Lake could not make it out and requested a rescue, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Hart Lake is south of Packwood.

The sheriff’s was office contacted just before 5 p.m. yesterday, had a phone conversation with the hikers and advised them to stay put, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

Brown said it’s unknown where the husband and wife couple are from or their ages. The phone connection was not clear, Brown said.

A deputy was told the woman cut her leg, but the bleeding had been controlled and the husband bruised his hip, according to Brown.

There is some confusion as to specifically where the couple is, as there is no GPS function working on their phone, Brown said.

The sheriff’s office hopes to fly its plane over the area, which may be able to spot the pair and then send GPS coordinates to ground crews, Brown said.

Search and rescue teams have not been called out yet because they don’t yet have a good location, according to Brown.

Breaking news: Fire breaks out in Centralia home

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Updated at 10:33 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A young woman and her mother safely escaped their Centralia home this morning when fire broke out in an upstairs bedroom.

Firefighters called just after 6 a.m. to the 1000 block of South Tower Avenue found smoke coming from a window and took their hose upstairs.

It started where multiple devices including an air conditioner were plugged into power strips and extension cords, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

“The air conditioning unit was a 110 model, I’m gonna guess that overloaded the circuit,” Fire Capt. Greg Schwartz said.

The young woman awoke to the sound of popping and cracking; there were not smoke detectors in the house, he said. She was checked at the scene for possible smoke inhalation.

“Luckily, she was a light sleeper,” he said.

The fire was confined to items on the floor, the floor itself and the corner of a bed, Schwartz said.

Appeals court: Former Chehalis doctor’s conviction stands

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Former Chehalis family practice physician David Wooten has lost his appeal of a 2010 conviction for felony malicious mischief, even though his wife recently won her appeal on essentially the same issue.

Dr. Wooten and his wife Janna Wooten were found guilty in separate trials in Lewis County Superior Court when they were accused of trashing the house they lived in at Mayfield Lake. They contended it was simply a remodeling project they left unfinished when they moved out of the home they were purchasing.

They relocated to Texas in May 2008 after finding a foreclosure notice posted on the property, and learning the man selling it to them had taken out a second mortgage and lost the house.

The decision filed in May by the state of Washington Court of Appeals Division II on Janna Wooten’s case tossed out her conviction saying prosecutors failed to show any damage to a person other than the Wootens. Prosecutor’s arguments and theory were based on a misunderstanding of real property law, according to that decision.

However, the same appeals court ruled just the opposite in David Wooten’s case late last month. His conviction for first-degree malicious mischief stands, unless he petitions the state Supreme Court for a review.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sara Beigh said yes it was the same court and similar cases with different outcomes. It was a different panel of three judges, Beigh said by way of explaining the contradiction.

The appeals court has seven judges.

Dr. Wooten’s move away from Lewis County came after state health officials reinstated his physician’s license with strict conditions that prevented him from prescribing narcotics and restricted his dealings with female patients. His practice was in Chehalis.

Beigh vacated Janna Wooten’s conviction last month, as the appeals court ordered her to do.

Both the Wootens already served their 60-day sentences, under so-called electronic home monitoring in the summer of 2010.

For background, read “Conviction vacated for trashing of Mossyrock house” from Wednesday May 23, 2012, here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012


• Someone apparently snuck through a window into a home on the 1200 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia and left with jewelry and an Acer brand laptop computer, according to a report made to Centralia police just after 3 p.m. yesterday.

• A 78-year-old Silver Creek resident reported yesterday his .22 caliber Browning Challenger semi-automatic handgun disappeared from his locked gun safe sometime since July 23. He told a deputy called to his home on the 100 block of Chief Umptux Road the key is kept in the house but has been missing for a few weeks, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s office. He thinks it might be someone he knows who took it, according to the sheriff’s office.

• Centralia police have a possible suspect in the theft of prescription drugs from the 300 block of Kearney Street, a loss that was reported about 1:30 p.m. yesterday.

• Centralia police were called about 12:45 p.m. yesterday to the 200 block of South Street about pipes missing from beneath a rental home.


• Centralia police took a report yesterday about the theft of a large amount of money that apparently occurred six months ago. The late afternoon call was to the 1200 block of Alder Street in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department. The case is under investigation.


• A 38-year-old Centralia man was arrested for a warrant and subsequently for possession of methamphetamine early this morning when an officer stopped a pair of bicyclists because one of them was riding without a reflector in the back. Thomas J. Roy was booked into the Lewis County Jail after the stop about 12:07 a.m. at the 700 block of West Main Street, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 2005 Ford Focus sustained about $1,500 in front end damage when its driver’s sandal got caught on the gas pedal last night and she drove over an embankment and into a ditch along Jackson Highway south of Chehalis. A deputy called just before 11:30 p.m. yesterday was told the 20-year-old Chehalis woman was not familiar with the road and couldn’t get to the brakes quickly enough when she came to a stop sign on Pascoe Avenue, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said she believes the driver was not injured.


• Morton police were called on Sunday to car prowls on the 400 block of Temple Avenue and for the third time on the 100 block of Wood Avenue. Police are investigating and seeking information from anyone who may know something, according to Chief Dan Mortensen.


• A neighbor with a garden hose slowed down a brush fire yesterday afternoon at the 2500 block of North Pearl Street in Centralia. Firefighters called about 5:30 p.m. finished the job and concluded it may have been related to a burn pile, although not necessarily in use on purpose yesterday, according to Riverside Fire Authority. Burned was tall grass covering an area about 25 feet by 25 feet.


• Chehalis firefighters were joined by members of Lewis County Fire District 6 this afternoon when a brush fire ignited along the railroad tracks south of Chamber of Commerce Way. It covered a stretch about 300 feet long, according to Fire Capt. Ted McCarty. Witnesses reported a train had passed by shortly before the 3:20 p.m. call, McCarty said. Sometimes sparks from train wheels do start fires, according to McCarty.

Horse falls into abandoned well on Seminary Hill

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Firefighter-paramedic Jesse Berry works to assist trapped horse. / Courtesy photo by Riverside Fire Authority

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia area firefighters worked for hours last night attempting to rescue a horse that fell to the bottom of an abandoned well.

The animal did not survive.

Riverside Fire Authority Chief Jim Walkowski said it appeared the horse broke through a concrete lid covering the 25-deep well. It was dry, he said.

Seven firefighters trained in large animal rescue responded about 6 p.m. to the pasture at the 2500 block of Seminary Hill Road, according to the chief.

The opening was approximately a four-foot square he said, and the horse was wedged at the bottom with his legs tangled in broken pieces of concrete and its wire mesh. The 1,800 pound animal had significant injuries, according to Walkowski.

With a veterinarian’s supervision, a firefighter was lowered and suspended to administer medication to calm the horse, Walkowski said.

“He was young with lots of energy,” Walkowski said. “From what I understand, in good health.”

The horse was really tired when they arrived, the chief said. It wasn’t clear how many hours he may have been trapped, he said.

It was right around 9:30 when the horse gave up, according to the chief.

Walkowski said they’ve never encountered such a complex rescue.

“Yeah, it was really sad,” he said. “We were really, really hoping we were gonna be able to make a difference.”

News brief: Local crews helping with huge Cle Elum wildfire

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Courtesy photo by West Thurston Regional Fire Authority

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Local firefighters from Napavine, Morton and Rochester have joined crews battling a wildfire near Cle Elum that has reportedly claimed 60 homes and more than 26,000 acres.

The wildfire that started about 1:20 p.m. yesterday is burning in sage and timber, according to the state fire marshal’s office.

Lewis County District 5 spokesperson Megan Van Egdom reports three personnel from the Napavine area department took a brush truck and a water tender when they headed east last night.

West Thurston Regional Fire Authority based in Rochester and Littlerock sent five people to assist, according to Chief Robert Scott.

A team from his department just returned after four days working a wildfire in Chelan County that ignited last weekend, Scott said.

The chief said he wants to assure local residents that even though he is sending people and apparatus out of the area, he still has resources in place here to protect the public.

The Seattle Times this morning reported some 600 firefighters are expected to be on the scene today of the fast moving fire that has prompted evacuations of more than 450 people.

It is located about six miles east of Cle Elum on state Route 10, Deputy State Fire Marshal Ed Borgatti said in a news release last night.

The fire is human caused, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.

Morton house fire displaces family of five

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Morton family is without a home today after a fire claimed their residence on the 200 block of Alder Avenue and one occupant is hospitalized.

Firefighters from Morton, Mossyrock and Glenoma battled the blaze that was reported about 6:20 this morning.

The single-story wood frame house was fully involved in flames when crews arrived, according to Lewis County Fire District 4.

Two adults and thee young children got themselves out, but one of the residents was taken to Morton General Hospital and then transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, according to Firefighter-EMT Jeanine Armstrong.

“All we know is somebody got up to do something and they got everybody out,” Armstrong said.

She said she wasn’t sure if it smoke inhalation or what that affected the man who was hospitalized.

The Red Cross is assisting the family, she said.

The cause is under investigation.

“Unfortunately, it’s a total loss,” Armstrong said.

Breaking news: Home made explosive found on Winlock roadway

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Updated at 10:13 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Deputies are in Winlock awaiting the arrival of a bomb squad after an improvised explosive device was found this morning laying on a roadway.

A motorcyclist called 911 about 7:15 a.m. after he spotted the cardboard tube with a burned fuse on the 100 block of Fisher Road, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

It is laying in the southbound lane and not near any homes, only a cattle field, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said, so no evacuations were necessary.

She described it as six inches long and two inches in diameter with epoxy caps and screws through the cardboard.

Update: Washington State Patrol bomb technicians detonated the device about 9:30 a.m.

More to come

News brief: Burn ban begins because of fire danger

Monday, August 13th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Substantial fire danger due to hot, dry weather prompted a burn ban that went into effect today in Lewis County.

Outdoor burning is prohibited except for recreational fires in approved receptacles, according to Lewis County Fire Marshal Fred Chapman.

The restrictions will remain in effect until further notice, according to Chapman.

Open burning is restricted in Thurston County as well.

Restrictions increased today for lands of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Prosecutors to ask state Supreme Court to overturn reversal of murder conviction

Monday, August 13th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Kenneth Slert will have to wait a while longer to find out if prosecutors will attempt for a fourth time to get a murder conviction to stick.

The Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office will petition the state Supreme Court in hopes of avoiding yet another trial in the case of a fatal campground shooting from almost a dozen years ago.

An appeals court last week remanded the case for a new trial for Slert. Slert was convicted of second-degree murder in the October 2000 death of 53-year-old John Benson, a truck driver and father of five from Eatonville.

Three times Slert has been found guilty in Lewis County Superior Court and three times the appeals court has overturned his convictions.

Most recently, the panel of judges said there was a violation of a public trial right and Slert’s right to be present at all times.

At issue is a closed door meeting between the judge and attorneys that led to four prospective jurors being excused during his most recent trial.

The former Tacoma man claimed self defense when he shot Benson twice following an evening of drinking and arguing over politics at a hunting camp off Skate Creek Road in East Lewis County.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer excused himself from the decision making process because he represented the former Tacoma man when he was a defense attorney.

Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys Sara Beigh and Will Halstead were tasked with deciding whether to hold a new trial, not hold a new trial or petition the Supreme Court.

Beigh today said the office will ask the state Supreme Court to review the appeals court decision.

There are a lot of cases on hold regarding a similar issue, Beigh said.

“We’re hoping at least a decision to stay the decision until the court decides that issue,” she said.

Th office has until early next month to file its petition and then it usually takes three to four months to get any type of response from the Supreme Court, she said.

Slert was sent to prison in mid-2004 and has been serving a sentence of a little more than 23 years.