Posts Tagged ‘news reporter’

News brief: Fire tears through Centralia house

Friday, July 3rd, 2015
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Smoke billows from home on Oxford Avenue in Centralia. / Courtesy photo by Mandy Wilson

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Arriving firefighters this evening found a north Centralia home fully engulfed in flames and a house next door beginning to burn.

Four fire departments responded to the 6:18 p.m. call to the blaze on the 1800 block of Oxford Avenue, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

They conducted an defensive – exterior – attack, according to Fire Lt. Mark Stahl.

Nobody was injured, but the residence is a total loss, along with two sheds and a travel trailer, according to Stahl.

The cause is under investigation.

Fourth of July: Local fire danger remains high

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – For those who were worried a week ago about the prospect of Fourth of July fireworks danger in light of the unusually parched state of grasses, shrubs, trees and other plant life, the outlook has not gotten any better.

The mercury hit 95 degrees in Chehalis today, and temperatures will continue to be well above normal through the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

The combination of heat, low humidity levels and dry vegetation with its risk for potential wildfires prompted even the Gifford Pinchot National Forest at mid-week to issue restrictions on campfires.

The lowlands have already seen outdoor burn bans put into place, as well as bans on campfires in state parks.

Early this week, as the governor and the commissioner of public lands strongly urged people not to use fireworks this year, the Lewis County Fire Chiefs Association had not taken a position on the matter.

However, the group’s president Gregg Peterson, who is chief of Newaukum Valley Fire and Rescue, said he was very concerned going into the Fourth of July weekend.

“Have a garden hose, shovel and water handy for extinguishing any fire,” Peterson said. “We’re probably going to be very busy, so, any fire that starts, we may no get there right away.”

Also on Wednesday, the Lewis County Board of Commissioners and the county Fire Marshal’s Office issued a statement asking citizens to refrain from personal discharge of all fireworks this year, and to celebrate in other ways, including partaking in professional public fireworks displays instead.

They indicated in a news release they heard the request from some members of the public to ban them, but wouldn’t have been able to do so for this holiday, even if they’d have taken immediate action.

“The current state law leaves this office with only the option to ask for assistance from the citizens to prevent fireworks related tragedy,” they wrote in the joint news release.

Fireworks are never allowed in the national forests in the Pacific Northwest.

Gifford Pinchot and Mount Hood National Forests’ Fire Management Staff Officer Deb Roy gave the details for campers and visitors.

Open campfires, including charcoal briquettes, cooking fires and warming fires are prohibited until further notice, according to Roy. Wood or charcoal fires are only allowed in developed campgrounds, picnic areas and group campgrounds that have established metal fire pits or rings, Roy stated in a news release.

Even smoking in the Gifford Pinchot is allowed only within enclosed vehicles, buildings and developed recreation sites. Violators can be fined up to $5,000 and/ or imprisoned up to six months in jail.

The state fire marshal’s office has been issuing news releases almost daily for more than a week, advising on various safety concerns involving the use of fireworks.

Yesterday, they focused on the lingering risk after the sparklers, cones and whatever else have sputtered out.

State Fire Marshal Charles M. Duffy reminds residents that used fireworks can leave behind a great deal of debris.

Some extra attention during the disposal of what’s left behind can help reduce the likelihood of unwanted fire or injury.

Here’s what Duffy says:

• Clean up all fireworks debris.

• Submerge used fireworks in a bucket of water for fifteen minutes to ensure they are cooled down and there are no smoldering embers that can start a fire.

• Double wrap the soaked fireworks in plastic bags for disposal in your household trash.

• It is best to dump the remaining water on the ground, selecting an area where it will not produce surface runoff into the municipal water system.

• Do not put used fireworks that have not been soaked into a paper or plastic bag, as this could lead to a fire starting within the bag.

• Return to your fireworks discharge area the next morning to clean up any remaining firework debris – things can be easily overlooked in the dark.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015



• A 48-year-old Chehalis man was hospitalized after his motorcycle struck an elk in Pacific County last night. Troopers responding about 12:25 a.m. to the scene two miles south of Grayland along state Route 105 report that Walter R. Twidwell’s 2000 Honda VT 1100 was able to be driven away from the scene. Twidwell and his passenger, Rhonda L. Pepin, 44, were both injured and  seen at Community Hospital, according to the Washington State Patrol. State patrol spokesperson Trooper Russ Winger said he didn’t have further details about the accident, but noted the highway goes through a remote area where there are elk herds.


• Centralia police were called about 6:30 a.m. today to the 2000 block of North Tower Avenue where a red Yamaha motorcycle was reported stolen.


• Police were called by a resident at the 100 block of North Schueber Road in Centralia late yesterday afternoon who said someone came into her home while she was out of town between June 23 and Sunday and left with her personal checkbook. There was no sign of forced entry, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A generator and a propane construction heater were reportedly stolen from a driveway on the 1000 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday afternoon.


• Centralia police took a report yesterday of a license plate removed from a vehicle by an unknown person at the 100 block of Virginia Drive.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, drugs, shoplifting, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, misdemeanor theft, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street, wallet lost while blacked out, reports of cat, dogs and kids left alone in different parked vehicles in the heat … and more.

Firefighters find smoldering rags in downtown Chehalis bar

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – It turned out to be a neatly folded stack of recently laundered towels on a shelf.

That could have burned up a popular Chehalis night spot, if not for the fact that someone smelled something not quite right before the business closed.

It was about midnight last night when someone from Sabra’s Place walked around the corner to the Chehalis Fire Station and said there was a strange odor inside the restaurant.

The crew went into the building on the 300 block of Northwest Chehalis Avenue and looked around. The air conditioner was checked, the area was searched and finally, the source was located, Fire Investigator Ted McCarty said

It was coming from a stack of towels in a cabinet, McCarty said. They were just slightly smoking.

Fire Investigator Derrick Paul related to McCarty that he took them outside, laid them out and found heavy charring in the middle.

“So, they were actually spontaneously combusting,” McCarty said.

Paul asked if they’d been used previously to clean up anything oily or chemicals. He was told yes, but they’d been washed since, he was told.

Most people know that oily rags left laying around can ignite, but firefighters know that even after they are laundered, they are still risky, according to McCarty. They should be stored in something metal with a lid on it, he said.

“In this case, luckily they smelled something,” he said. “Otherwise, we’d have had a big fire.”

FBI, federal prosecutors considering pursuing Chase Bank robbery case

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Larry G. Bailey, right, listens as his lawyer addresses the judge in Lewis County Superior Court about a delay in his case.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The upcoming trial for the suspected bicycling bank robber was postponed today, after lawyers told a judge federal authorities may want to take a crack at prosecuting the case.

Larry G. Bailey was arrested on the morning of Jan. 26, after ditching a BMX-style bicycle on Chehalis’s West Street overpass, with a deputy in pursuit, about 45 minutes after an individual with a similar description implied to the manager of Chase Bank at the other end of town he had a gun and was taken into the bank’s vault.

The 52-year-old had $36,000 tucked inside a floral print cloth bag in his backpack, according to police.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead told Judge Richard Brosey this morning he just spoke to federal authorities about a week and a half ago.

“I know the probation officer was aware of it, but I don’t think the FBI or the (Assistant United States Attorney) was,” Halstead said.

Bailey has several previous federal bank robbery convictions and was on probation at the time of the incident, according to prosecutors.

Halstead, Bailey and defense attorney Chris Baum appeared in Lewis County Superior Court, scheduled for a pre-trial hearing.

Baum joined Halstead in suggesting they postpone both the hearing, and the trial that was on the court calendar for the week of Aug. 3.

“We need to get a response from the feds as to whether or not they’re going to take it,” Baum said.

Police said Bailey had just arrived in the area few months earlier and showed an address on the 1500 block of Bishop Road, at an address for a church near an encampment.

Bailey has pleaded not guilty to first-degree robbery and possession of methamphetamine.

If convicted and the state can confirm the prior robbery convictions, it could be a third strike, making him subject to mandatory life imprisonment without parole

He remains held in the Lewis County Jail on t $250,000 bail.

For background, read:

• “Suspected Chase Bank robber believed to have numerous similar convictions” from Tuesday January 27, 2015, here

• “Chase bank robbery suspect facing possible third strike, pleads not guilty” from Thursday January 29, 2015, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015



• A deputy took a report yesterday of a shotgun stolen from a man’s bedroom on the 1200 block of U.S. Highway 12 in Ethel. The 59-year-old resident said the Mossberg 870 12-gauge shotgun was taken sometime between June 20 and Saturday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• Centralia police were called about 7:35 p.m. yesterday to the 1600 block of North Schueber Road to take a report a dog was stolen from a home. The case is under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A stroller was stolen from a a front porch at the 1200 block of G Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police about 3:15 p.m. yesterday.


• Centralia police were called to the 200 block of West Pear Street about 2:30 p.m. yesterday regarding the theft of a UPS package from a porch.


• Chehalis police were called on Monday afternoon regarding a possible fraud. They are investigating, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• Someone stole tools from an unlocked vehicle parked in front of a residence overnight at the 1400 block of Southwest Mills Avenue in Chehalis, according to a report made to police yesterday morning.


• Centralia police were called just before noon yesterday about a window getting broken out of a vehicle during the night at the 900 block of Goff Street in Centralia.


• A youngster on a bicycle collided with a car at Main Street and Cascade Avenue in Chehalis about 1:45 p.m. yesterday afternoon, but was not seriously injured, according to responders.

• A 32-year-old motorist was arrested for being intoxicated behind the wheel as well as having three child passengers at the time yesterday evening in Centralia. Police contacted Chad C. Cozby, 32, of Sumner, about 6:25 p.m. at the 1500 block of Kresky Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department.  He was booked into the Lewis County Jail for driving under the influence plus three counts of reckless endangerment, according to police.

• An 18-year-old motorist totaled his own Mitsubishi Eclipse as well as a Chehalis woman’s Grand Am after traveling too fast, losing control in a curve and spinning out early yesterday morning at the 200 block of Maurin Road in Chehalis. A deputy called just before 5 a.m. learned the teen’s car T-boned the other vehicle and spun multiple times, also causing minor damage to a third vehicle that was trying to back away, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Nobody was injured, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. However, Trew A. Irwin, from Centralia, was cited for second-degree negligent driving, having no insurance and third-degree driving with a suspended license, Brown said. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail, she said.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, misdemeanor assault; responses for alarm, dispute, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street, possibly stolen property found in some bushes, barking dog … and more.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015


Updated at 8:03 p.m.


• Centralia police took a report yesterday morning of 70 hydrocodone pills stolen from a residence on the 1100 block of South Schueber Road, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Police received a report of credit card theft, possibly from the mail, yesterday associated with the 600 block of South Rock Street in Centralia.


• Chehalis police were called about 7:20 a.m. today about a vehicle prowl on Southwest James Street.


• Police were called to the 500 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia about 11:30 a.m. yesterday because of graffiti written on a sculpture.


• An 18-year-old Randle resident was ordered held yesterday on $50,000 bail in connection with the shooting death of his grandparent’s dog. Kolby G. Mullins was booked into the Lewis County Jail on Friday and appeared before a judge yesterday afternoon. According to charging documents, Mullins is accused of vandalizing the grandparent’s motorcycle in Glenoma, leaving a note expressing how angry he was and suggesting they meet up to fight. That was in February. The court documents go on to detail how two weeks later Mullins allegedly drove up to a residence in Randle where the grandparent Gene Dunaway’s dog began to bark, and Mullins lifted a rifle, took aim and shot the dog twice, before driving away. The documents don’t indicate why Mullins was upset, but he has a pending case in another county in which he is charged with first-degree child molestation, according to the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office. And the day after the motorcycle incident, Mullins tried to kill himself, sustaining a large gunshot wound on his head, according to the documents. He is charged with second-degree animal cruelty, harassment, second-degree theft, second- and third-degree malicious mischief as well as making a false or misleading statement to a public servant. Back in mid-February, he allegedly trashed somebody else’s pickup truck and their television near the Glenoma incident and took a dirt bike and tools, according to the documents. During the same time he allegedly invited another individual to fight, even with guns, out of anger at that person’s association with his grandparent, the documents relate. Yesterday afternoon, defense attorney Joely O’Rourke told the judge both she and her temporary client were thoroughly confused as he was charged with the exact same incident in Lewis County District Court, and bail was set at $3,600. The prosecutor’s office said because of the severity of the charges and mental health issues, they wanted higher bail. Judge Richard Brosey left the bail amount at $50,000 as it was set in Mullins’ arrest warrant. The current charges were filed on April 15, and a passage in the affidavit of probable cause notes there was a time delay in the referral of these charges to their office and their office’s awareness the referral existed. Mullins’ arraignment is scheduled for Thursday.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, trespassing, misdemeanor assault, driving with suspended license; responses for dispute, harassment, misdemeanor theft, suspicious circumstances, possible inappropriate touching, collision on city street, kids shooting off large fireworks, someone else setting off fireworks … and more.

News brief: UPS truck fire north of Grand Mound closes one lane of I-5

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Flames from possible brake fire spread into cargo hold of UPS truck. / Courtesy photo by Washington State Patrol

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Crews were still on the scene this morning dealing with a fire that engulfed a UPS truck just south of the Maytown Rest Area on Interstate 5.

Firefighters were called out just after 1 a.m. to the southbound lanes near milepost 92 to find the closed box trailer well involved in flames, according to West Thurston Regional Fire Authority.

They managed to cut the box away from the tractor itself and remained on the scene as of 9 a.m. extinguishing hot spots, Fire Chief Robert Scott said.

Nobody was hurt.

The rig was hauling 19,000 pounds of cargo, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Scott said it wasn’t individual packages for delivery, but was pallets of bulk items. The pallets he saw were things like children’s toys, speaker systems and computer boards, he said.

The area is down to one lane and traffic is congested, the chief said.

A fire crew is assisting contractors, who have a dump truck to take away the remains of the load, and a tow truck was working to right the trailer which had tipped onto its side, he said.

They believe it may have been a brake fire on the truck itself that spread to the trailer, Scott said.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, June 29th, 2015


Updated at 7:59 p.m.


• Someone rifled through a truck while its drivers dined at Gee Cees Truck Stop southwest of Toledo early on Saturday morning, removing $9,602 cash from the glove box, $200 from a wallet, a Rand McNalley GPS unit from the dashboard and also taking clothing including T-shirts and blue jeans. A deputy responding about 12:30 a.m. learned another truck driver had seen two males trying to break into the truck and the prowler or prowlers left the door open when they were done, according to Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The deputy asked the business to review images on its security system, Chief Stacy Brown said.


• Chehalis Officer Warren Ayers and his K9 partner, Reign, assisted Centralia officers with capturing two car prowl suspects who ran as officers arrived on the scene at the 100 block of Jalyn Street in Centralia early yesterday morning. Zachory J. Schultz, 18, of Centralia, and a 17 year old were found hiding nearby and arrested for vehicle prowl following the approximately 2:50 a.m. call,  according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A GPS unit and a Blue Tooth device were stolen from a vehicle at the 1800 block of Collins Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday afternoon.

• Chehalis police were called about 10:30 a.m. yesterday when an individual out on a walk found some items that should have been in his vehicle, which was parked in its driveway on the 200 block of Southeast Adams Avenue, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Officers took a report about 9 a.m. on Saturday of a rope taken from the bed of a pickup parked in the 300 block of Division Avenue in Morton. The rope was later located, tied to the Tilton River Bridge, according to the Morton Police Department.


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning a deputy took a report from a 27-year-old Rochester woman that someone broke into her storage unit at the 2400 block of Harrison Avenue and stole numerous items including a Craftsman table saw, a gas heater, a saddle and a toolbox. Shavings found on the ground at Keepers Storage indicate the thief drilled through the locking mechanism on her padlock to get in, according to the sheriff’s office. It happened sometime between 10 a.m. last Monday and 10 a.m. on Thursday, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. The loss is estimated at $1,100, Brown said. An investigation is underway.


• A five-ton wood splitter was stolen from an 87-year-old man’s property in the 200 block of Gershick Road in Silver Creek. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning it went missing sometime between 3 p.m. on May 4 and 1 p.m. the following day. It’s brand is Duerr, according to the sheriff’s office. The value is $1,600, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said.


• A lawnmower was stolen from a yard during the night at the 100 block of West Chestnut Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police on Saturday morning.


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning that sometime before yesterday but after last Wednesday, someone broke into the Toledo School District bus garage compound and tried to siphon gas from the storage tank by cutting the fuel hose at the pump. The sheriff’s office thinks they were interrupted because they left their own gas can behind, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. They got in to the facility at the 100 block of Collins Road by cutting a hole in the chain link fence, Brown said. No fuel was stolen and the school district will attempt to review security images to see if a suspect can be identified, Brown said.


• Centralia police were contacted yesterday morning by an individual who reported losing a credit card the day before, and then learning it had been used at several area businesses.according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• An officer was called at about 12:45 a.m. on Friday regarding an alleged assault at Green Hill School in Chehalis. It is being investigated, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• An officer was called to the 1000 block of Southwest 20th Street on Saturday afternoon regarding pain medication that was either stolen or misplaced, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

•  An officer was called to the 1000 block of Southwest 20th Street on Saturday evening after a 15-year-old boy was found with unspecified pills. The case is being referred to juvenile prosecutors for a possible drug charge, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• Police were called about 9:30 p.m. on Saturday to the 500 block of South Cedar Street in Centralia regarding someone spray painting the back of someone else’s truck.

• Police took a report around 10 p.m. yesterday of windows getting broken at a home on the 1000 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia.


• A pair of Vader residents were hospitalized as a precaution after their semi truck left the highway and rolled this morning in Eastern Washington. Julie A. Hedglin, 55, was driving eastbound on U.S. Highway 12 at the Dayton city limits when it happened just before 10 a.m., according to the Washington State Patrol. The passenger James L. Hedglin, 57, was not wearing a seat belt, the state patrol reports. The driver is to be issued a citation for second-degree negligent driving, according to the investigating trooper.

• Newaukum Valley Fire and Rescue Chief Gregg Peterson said he believes two people were transported to Providence Centralia Hospital yesterday evening following a collision on northbound Interstate 5 just north of the Rush Road interchange at Napavine.

• A 23-year-old motorist from Missoula, Montana was injured when his Dodge Ram pickup left the roadway and struck a large tree head on yesterday afternoon east of Packwood. Troopers responded to the approximately 3:30 p.m. call to state Route 123 before milepost one, according to the Washington State Patrol. Bryce L. Greenfield was transported to Morton General Hospital and then airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, according to the state patrol. Greenfield wasn’t wearing a seat belt, the investigating trooper reports.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, obstructing, resisting arrest, misdemeanor assault, shoplifting, protection order violation, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, disorderly persons, harassment, trespassing, hit and run, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street, dogs left alone in parked vehicles in Chehalis at Safeway, at Wal-Mart and at Valley View Health Center, a pair of dogs walking around without an owner, kids in a neighbor’s pool at night when neighbor is gone … and more.

Fourth of July: Get out your garden hoses now

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

Today’s so-called red flag warning for fire danger covers most of Western Washington. / Image from the National Weather Service

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – People are nervous.

Ongoing high temperatures and very dry conditions, with forecasts of more of the same have prompted outdoor burning restrictions, a ban on even campfires in state parks and for private timberland owners to close their gates to public recreation in recent days.

Unstable air over much of Western Washington with the risk of scattered lightning added to the fire danger threat today.

And, sales of consumer fireworks from state-licensed stands began at noon today. They are already being sold on reservations.

Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statement strongly urging people not to use fireworks this year.

“The fire danger now is unlike any we’ve seen in a long time, if ever,” Inslee said in a press release. “We need to be prepared for the possibility of an unprecedented fire season.”

Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza is asking the public to be careful, be responsible and to take their neighbors and their neighbor’s property into consideration when lighting off fireworks.

The Lewis County Public Fire Educators Group is strongly urging area residents and their families to consider enjoying a professional display, such as the one at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds the evening of the Fourth of July.

Forecasters predict temperatures in the 80s and 90s in the coming days, and although there is a slight chance of showers tomorrow, unseasonably warm weather is anticipated well into the week, according to the National Weather Service.

The sheriff wants this year’s celebrating to be as fun and festive as any, but points out there are criminal penalties for possessing and using illegal fireworks.

“If you choose to use or have illegal fireworks in your possession you may be cited and charged with a gross misdemeanor, punishable up to a year in jail and a fine up to $5,000,” Snaza stated.

State officials had a more ominous warning to consider:

A person found responsible for starting a wildland fire with fireworks can be required to pay restitution for the fire suppression costs and damages caused by the fire. This could be in the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, the state fire marshal’s office noted in a press release late last week.

Fireworks are not allowed in Lewis County parks. Fireworks are illegal on all state properties protected by the Department of Natural Resources. They are prohibited in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Last year, there were 155 suspected fireworks-related fires around the state. This year, the wildfire season has begun earlier and with greater intensity.

However, for those who choose to celebrate our nation’s independence in the customary way, local public safety officials offer numerous tips to help prevent tragic accidents, especially regarding youngsters.

“First, set family boundaries―only adults should light fireworks. Supervision is paramount in keeping children safe,” Riverside Fire Authority Assistant Chief Rick Mack and Newaukum Valley Fire and Rescue’s Lt. Laura Hanson stated in their list of tips.

From local and state public safety officials:

• Purchase only legal fireworks, only in the quantity you will use.
• M80’s, M100’s, or Cherry Bombs are not fireworks – they are illegal explosive devices and can cause severe injuries. Sparkler bombs are considered improvised explosive devices, and are illegal.
•  Never consume alcohol or drugs and use fireworks at the same time.
• Never use fireworks inside your home.
• Always set them off outdoors on a driveway or sidewalk.
• Clear a level area, away from combustible materials.
• Have a fire extinguisher or hose handy.
• Keep a bucket of water nearby for discarding all used fireworks.
• Have a responsible adult present to supervise their use.
• Do not allow young children to discharge fireworks.
• Keep spectators at a safe distance.
• The shooter should wear eye protection.
• Light only one device at a time and move away quickly.
• Never attempt to re-ignite a “dud” firework device.
• Follow the directions on the package label carefully.
• Never point or throw a firework in the direction of anyone.
• Never hold or throw a firework – light it and back away to a safe distance.
• If a firework comes into contact with a vegetated area, use a hose or a bucket of water to heavily soak the area, making sure that there are not any hot spots that could rekindle later.
• Clean up all debris when finished.
• Completely soak used fireworks overnight, then place soaked fireworks in a garbage bag and place in an outdoor trash can or take them to your local waste facility.

Teen driver for ecstasy drug deal-turned robbery booked

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

Kayla A.S. Littlejohn, in red jail garb, awaits her turn to go in front of a judge in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A police undercover attempt to buy $1,000 worth of ecstasy in the parking lot of the Safeway store in Centralia didn’t turn out as planned, but one teenager is jailed and a man with her who allegedly pulled a gun on a confidential informant remains at large.

It happened inside a tan-colored Pontiac on Wednesday evening, with Centralia police engaging in surveillance of the expected transaction, according to authorities.

Once the Pontiac left the grocery store lot, and the informant was observed getting out of the car, the informant phoned the officer and said they’d been robbed, according to court documents.

A brief summary of the incident from police the following morning described the robbery victim as a male, however court documents avoid using any gender specific pronouns in reference to the informant.

Law enforcement officers pursued the vehicle for a short time, but gave up the chase for safety reasons, according to police.

According to charging documents, when law enforcement searched the area around the residence of the male they say was behind the wheel, they spoke with an 18-year-old woman at a nearby house; they were told she’d been with him the previous couple of days.

Kayla A.S. Littlejohn, 18, of Olympia, was arrested on Thursday, and booked into the Lewis County Jail.

According to charging documents in her case, she said she was asked by McRae Armstrong to drive him to Safeway.

She said he told her he was going to sell fake MDMA, which was really salt, to someone for $1,000.

The informant told police the male with the gun wasn’t the target of the so-called controlled buy.

According to Littlejohn and the informant, during the drug deal, after Littlejohn counted the money, Armstrong showed a bag of drugs, then reached under the passenger seat, grabbed a small caliber handgun and pointed it at the informant. The informant got out, and the two drove away.

The Centralia Police Department had provided the money.

Centralia Officer Adam Haggerty reported when he first saw the Pontiac, a female was in the driver’s seat, but when officers attempted to catch the car, a male was driving. The Pontiac has been located in Olympia, according to police.

Littlejohn was brought before a judge yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court where she was charged with one count of first-degree robbery and one count of possession with intent to deliver an imitation controlled substance.

The 18-year-old has no criminal history, was cooperative and her father was in the courtroom for the hearing, lawyers told the judge.

“It’s very clear Ms. Littlejohn was not the principle actor in this event,” defense attorney Joely O’Rourke told the judge.

First-degree robbery has a maximum penalty of life in prison. The other offense has a top lockup time of five years.

Judge James Lawler ordered her held on $25,000 bail.

Centralia police did not return phone calls seeking comment about Wednesday’ incident.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead informed the judge someone from the Pacific County Prosecutor’s Office would be handling the case, because of a potential appearance of a conflict.

The co-defendant’s father is Jim Armstrong, a private investigator who works for defense attorneys in Lewis County cases, Halstead said.

McRae Armstrong doesn’t appear to have been arrested, or at least not booked into the Lewis County Jail, as of this afternoon.

Littlejohn’s opportunity to make a plea in the case will come on Thursday, in Lewis County Superior Court.

For background, read “Centralia: Suspect in armed robbery at large” from Thursday June 25, 2015, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Saturday, June 27th, 2015


Updated at 5:16 p.m.


• The truck driver who died yesterday on U.S. Highway 12 in Rochester was an 83-year-old Chehalis resident. Joseph P. Haunreiter was traveling eastbound when his 1979 Kenworth tractor and empty log trailer left the roadway, went through a guardrail and then hit a tree near Denmark Street, according to the Washington State Patrol. The cause of the wreck is under investigation, according to the state patrol. The approximately 4:30 p.m. crash shut down the highway for about five hours. Haunreiter died at the scene, his rig was destroyed.


• Four vehicles were towed and a Rochester woman transported to Providence Centralia Hospital after a 23-year-old driver from Ellensburg who wasn’t paying attention struck the back end of a car which was slowing for stopped traffic on Interstate 5 in south Centralia today, according to the Washington State Patrol. Shane A. Brady, 23, was issued a citation for going too fast, according to the state patrol. Teri L. Ramdsdell, 50, from Rochester, who was driving the Honda CRV he hit was taken to the hospital with unspecified injuries, the investigating trooper reports. Troopers called about 1:20 p.m. to the northbound lanes near milepost 81 indicate the CRV was pushed into a Kia Sportage, which in turn was shoved into a 2002 Acura.


• Centralia police were called about 3:40 p.m. yesterday about a vehicle prowl at the 2400 block of Cooks Hill Road. Money was taken, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• An officer was called to the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue about 10 o’clock last night regarding a vehicle prowl. Someone broke a window to get inside, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrant, harassment, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for hit and run, misdemeanor theft … and more.

Saying goodbye to Officer Silva

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Many came to Chehalis today to pay tribute to Officer Rick Silva.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – It began with a procession of pipes and drums and ended with the mournful bugle call of taps.

And in between, the ceremony was attended to by an honor guard of innumerable law enforcement officers.


Rick Silva
1954 – 2015

The main sections of bleachers on both sides of the W.F. West High School gym were mostly filled, as were row upon row of chairs holding family, friends, police officers and others mourners today for Chehalis Police Department Officer Rick Silva.

Silva, 61, of Chehalis, died last week after complications from surgery for an on-the-job injury. His line-of-duty death memorial service followed a 27-year career.

Among the speakers were his chief, the Lewis County sheriff and the Chehalis mayor, who told those gathered of a respected and well-liked officer who treated others with dignity.

“And one thing I’ll always remember is that ever-ready and completely genuine smile Rick had,” Chehalis Mayor Dennis Dawes said.

Dawes was deputy chief of police when he hired Silva in 2002, from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office where Silva started in 1988.

Attendees at the reception that followed were able to watch a video presentation, some with partially tear-filled eyes, even Chehalis Police Chief Glenn Schaffer.

“We’ll miss him,’ Schaffer said.

For background, read “Chehalis police mourn loss of veteran officer” from Friday June 19, 2015, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, June 26th, 2015



• A driver was dead at the scene when a log truck ran off U.S. Highway 12 in Rochester and struck a tree late this afternoon. Firefighters called about 4:30 p.m. to the area near Denmark Road found the rig about 40 feet off the road, according to West Thurston Regional Fire Authority. Fire Chief Robert Scott said the empty log truck hit a full-sized tree. The Washington State Patrol is investigating. As of 6:45 p.m., the highway was still closed and a detour put into place, according to Scott. Responders were also waiting for a crew from the state Department of Ecology to clean up spilled diesel and motor oil, Scott said.


• It wasn’t long after traffic started moving again on northbound Interstate 5 into Chehalis yesterday afternoon when a semi truck broke down in the middle of the freeway, and lost about 12 gallons of oil. It happened just before 6 p.m. at the 13th Street and Rice Road interchange and responding firefighters spent some time soaking up oil off the roadway, according to the Chehalis Fire Department.


• A 23-year-old woman was arrested for driving under the influence after her vehicle left the roadway and wrecked into a tree at the 100 block of Hadaller Road in Mossyrock last night. A deputy responding just after 7 p.m. noted her 5-year-old son was traveling with her, although he was in a booster seat in the back, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. No injuries were reported, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. Sabrina R. Sutton, from Centralia, was booked into the Lewis County Jail for DUI and for reckless endangerment, Brown said.


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports this morning someone broke into a storage building belonging to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife at the 700 block of Davis Lake Road in East Lewis County. Nothing appeared to be missing but the cost was about $400 to repair the damaged door, according to the sheriff’s office.

• Centralia police were called to the 100 block of North Pearl Street about 2 p.m. yesterday regarding the theft of money through a financial scam.

• An officers was called about 4 p.m. yesterday to the 1100 block of G Street to take a report of fraudulent charges on someone’s credit card.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license; responses for shoplifting, dispute, protection order violation … and more.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Flames spreading through freshly cut hay are extinguished in Winlock. / Courtesy photo by Patrick Jacobson


• Firefighters from three departments responded yesterday afternoon when fire broke out during a haying operation on the 500 block of Jones Road west of Winlock. They found a portion of the field of freshly cut hay burning – an area of approximately 300 feet by 300 feet – and a crew trying to keep the rest of it from being consumed, according to Lewis County Fire District 15. “I believe it happened from probably the exhaust from a tractor,” Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Anderson said. A small breeze tried to push it into a timber patch that had been logged probably two or so years ago, he said. Anderson said it was extinguished after about an hour and a half.

• Exceptionally dry weather and extreme fire danger means public access to more private timberlands is shut down temporarily. The Columbia Tree Farm, located near Morton, Riffe Lake, Swift Reservoir and north and south of Raymond is among those closed likely through the summer, Olympic Resource Management, a Pope Resources company, announced yesterday.


• A 33-year-old Centralia area man called the sheriff’s office about 7:30 p.m. yesterday after discovering his barn door broken and his welder and bike missing. The resident of the 100 block of Goodrich Road said he’d been in there the night before and they were there, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The bike is described as a Fetish Cycles road bicycle with a white frame and a Nascar sticker. The loss is listed at $1,400, according to the sheriff’s office.


• Centralia police yesterday morning responded a burglary at the 1200 block of Alder Street and ended up arrested Jacob D. Holmgren. The 25-year-old Centralia resident was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Police were called about 9:30 a.m. yesterday regarding fraudulent charges on a bank account, associated with a location at the 2000 block of Borst Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Chehalis police were called about 11 o’clock yesterday morning regarding a vehicle prowl at Northeast Hampe Way.


• A Mineral man was bit on the thumb when he tried to break up a dog fight that occurred as he and his leashed service dog came out of the Headquarters Tavern in Mineral last night, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy responding about 8:15 p.m. to the 100 block of Front Street learned from the 44-year-old a loose pit bull mix attacked his 3-year-old Malamute, according to the sheriff’s office. The owner of the suspect dog, a 36-year-old Mineral resident, was issued an infraction for prohibited activities by animals because the incident occurred off his dog’s property, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. The malamute sustained three puncture wounds on its front leg, Brown said.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, drugs, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, disorderly person, threats on Facebook, missing TV remote, toddler sounding child calling 911, a vehicle without a placard parked in a handicap space; questions about possibly having purchased stolen goods, wondering if its okay to grow marijuana in a backyard … and more.

One dead and one critically injured after attempt to push car off freeway south of Chehalis

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Interstate 5 is closed for hours and traffic diverted as responders deal with multiple injuries and a death on the roadway in Napavine today. / Courtesy photo by Alicia Meehan

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

One person was killed, one seriously injured and four others hospitalized after a Ford Explorer struck a disabled car being pushed across Interstate 5 at Napavine today.

Troopers, firefighters and medics called at 12:40 p.m. to the northbound lanes found the disabled blue Mustang had come to rest in the ditch facing the wrong way, and the entire roadway blocked. The freeway was not reopened for three and half hours.

According to the Washington State Patrol, the 1988 Mustang driven by a 23-year-old man from Redmond experienced mechanical issues and stopped on the left shoulder, but was partially blocking the fast lane.

A yellow Ford Mustang pulled over in front of the car to help. The good samaritan – traveling with his family – and the 23-year-old were attempting to push the car to the right shoulder when the northbound Explorer struck the good samaritan and the back of the car, according to the state patrol.

Members of Lewis County Fire District 5, District 6 and AMR responded to treat and transport patients, District 5 Firefighter Brad Bozarth said.

Deceased at the scene was Miguel A. Melendez, 39, from Everson, according to the state patrol.

Bozarth said the victim’s wife, while not directly involved in the collision, needed to be evaluated and was among those taken to Providence Centralia Hospital.

One critical patient, the driver of the disabled Mustang, was transported there as well, Bozarth said. He is Ezekiel T. Smith, 23, of Redmond, the investigating trooper reports.

The state patrol states the driver of the Explorer, 68-year-old Dale R. Demarais, of Marysville, was unhurt. However, three of his passengers, one of whom is an infant, were taken to Providence with non-life-threatening injuries, according to Bozarth.

No charges are expected, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Both vehicles were declared totaled. It happened just south of the milepost 72 interchange.

Update on Friday June 26, 2015 at 9 a.m.: Smith was treated and has been released from the hospital.

Centralia: Suspect in armed robbery at large

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A male was robbed at gunpoint inside a vehicle by a person with him yesterday evening, leading to a short police pursuit that began in the area of Harrison Avenue and Johnson Road in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Officers responding at 6:53 p.m. to the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue, just west of Interstate 5, report the suspect took money from the victim.

The suspect is described only as a person known to the victim.

Police located the vehicle, which refused to yield, according to a brief summary of the incident from the department.

The pursuit was terminated by police for public safety
concerns, according to police.

Centralia officers have positively identified the suspect, and recovered the vehicle in Olympia, according to the summary.

Further details were not readily available. The investigation continues, according to police.

Victim, impostor from Centralia driver’s test escapade meet in court

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – He lost part of one leg and underwent skin grafts, but Edward Jerns survived the September explosion of his camper in Napavine.

He lost his mother on Christmas Day, was unable to return to his job at Chehalis Sheet Metal, but the 60-year-old was determined he would do what he could to regain the life he had.

After treatment at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for months, and more time convalescing in Seattle and then a Centralia nursing home, Jerns told his doctor he planned to drive again.


Daniel L. Norby

He said the doctor refused to release him unless he took a driver’s test to renew his license.

Because of the prosthetic leg, he could only operate a vehicle with an automatic transmission. When he went to the Department of Licensing office on Kresky Avenue in Centralia on April 23, he was told to wait outside and an examiner would be right out to take him on the driving test.

Jerns had the misfortune to be the victim of a 47-year-old Chehalis man behind him in line who, for whatever reason, followed him outside, got into the passenger seat and impersonated a driving examiner.

Daniel L. Norby managed to direct Jerns to the Lucky Eagle Casino, talk him into trading him coats and steal some 1,000 to $1,200 cash from the pocket before Jerns realized something was very wrong.

“I just want you to know how it feels to rob a poor old crippled man,” Jerns said today as he faced Norby in a courtroom.

The 60-year-old had wheeled his new walker right up to the judge, and then turned sideways to speak to the defendant.

Jerns had just cashed his social security check that day, and the cash was every cent he had, he said.

“I had to go to ask friends, for help,” he said. “I hope you have a long time to think about this; don’t do it ever again.”

Norby pleaded guilty earlier this month to criminal impersonation and second-degree theft, as well as second-degree burglary from another incident that was combined for a plea agreement.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler could have sentenced him to as much as 68 months in prison, but the deputy prosecutor and defense attorney asked for 29 months. And they asked it be served as what’s called a prison-based drug alternative sentencing option.

Defense attorney David Arcuri went to great lengths to persuade the judge to go along.

His client first started abusing drugs at age 9, with his father, Arcuri said.

“It’s truly not an excuse, but if you look at Mr. Norby’s history, it’s all theft and drugs,” Arcuri said. He called his client’s actions an incredibly stupid way to commit a crime.

Norby would get roughly 29 months, but would be eligible for release after about 20 months, and then would be closely supervised afterward, with treatment and a chance to get clean, according to Arcuri.

“Residential prison DOSA’s, they monitor people,” Arcuri told the judge. “I think it’s the best thing DOC does.”

Norby took up the judge on his offer to speak on his own behalf, and apologized to Jerns.

“I’ve got grandkids now, this is my last chance,” he told the judge.

Judge Lawler reluctantly agreed, but warned Norby if he came back before him with another crime, the result would be as much time as he could possibly give him.

Lawler made a finding that chemical dependency contributed to the crimes, and he ordered Norby to pay $2,400 in fines and fees, at a rate of $25 per month. He would have to repay the victim for the money he took too.

Jerns was smiling when the hearing was over, as he described how he wasn’t scared by the ordeal, and how it fit in with the rest of the challenges he’s faced the past several months.

“I’m Catholic, you know,” he said. “God only puts on your shoulders what you can handle. He’s pushing a load.”

Jerns’ new driver’s license was issued on May 1, and he’s back at his home on West Branch Street in Napavine.


For background, read, “Police: Impostor arrested after driving test includes stop at Lucky Eagle” from Wednesday April 29, 2015, here

Heat wave: Emergency responders want us to avoid getting over-heated

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Drink up. Water, that is.

That’s the message from local fire departments who want members of the public to stay well as temperatures are expected to climb into the 90s.

“During hot weather it is important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water,” members of Lewis County FIre District 6 offer as their number one hot weather health tip.



Adults should plan to drink 10 to 15 eight ounce glasses of water to remain well hydrated, not including soda pop, according to the Lewis County Public Fire Educators Group.

Getting, and retaining, plenty of fluid can be your first and best defense against the affects of prolonged heat exposure, the group says.

The National Weather Service this afternoon warns that hot weather is expected Friday and into early next week in Western Washington. Saturday is likely to be the hottest day, they say. Even overnight temperatures are expected to remain warm.

The weather service issued an excessive heat watch today for counties south of us and in the eastern portion of  Pacific County, potentially hitting 100 degrees.

Riverside Fire Authority Assistant Chief Rick Mack and Newaukum Valley Fire and Rescue’s Lt. Laura Hanson remind residents that staying cool – by avoiding heavy exertion and by remaining inside an air conditioned area – will help the body retain its needed fluid.

And don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink, they recommend.

These are steps people can take to allow their body’s natural cooling mechanism, sweat, to work, they say.

The Lewis County Public Fire Educators Group is newly formed by the Lewis County Fire Chief’s Association and working to educate as many Lewis County citizens as possible on common themes of fire and life safety prevention, according to Mack.

They suggest folks check on at-risk family members and friends frequently during the heat wave.

Firefighters of District 6 today additionally remind the public that temperatures inside parked cars can rise very quickly to deadly levels, so people should avoid leaving children and pets unattended in vehicles.

They all recommend wearing sunscreen outside.

It’s a health issue.

The Public Fire Educators want individuals to be able to enjoy the summer weather without the harmful effects of heat-related illnesses.

Here’s what they say to watch for:

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
• Heavy sweating
• Weakness
• Cold, pale, clammy skin
• Rapid, weak pulse
• Nausea, vomiting
• Fainting

Heat exhaustion may require medical attention, but, if recognized early, can be reversed with hydration and cooling.

Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include:
• High body temperature above 103 degrees
• Hot, red, dry or moist skin
• Rapid strong pulse
• Possible unconsciousness

Heat stroke is a true medical emergency that will most often require hospitalization.