Update: Junction Fire near intersection of SR 14 and Highway 97 now 60% contained

Klickitat Emergency Services says the two fast moving grass fires near Highway 14 and Highway 97 are now 60% contained. One firefighter did suffer a minor injury to his leg as well. One home, an apartment a hay barn and seven out buildings were destroyed by the flames. Three people are displaced from their homes as a result.

The Junction Fire has burned approximately 2,000 acres between mile marker 100 and 105 on Highway 14, and mile marker 2 and 3 on Highway 97. 12 county fire departments were involved in fighting this blaze, along with mutual aid resources from the state.

Shortly after the Junction Fire started, another three fires were reported on the east side of Highway 97 near milepost 7. The Viewpoint fire burned grass for several hours, burning 1,025 acres. That fire is now 100% contained.

Earlier story below:

Highways 14 and US 97 are open again this morning, but crews remain on scene of two grass fires in the area.

The Klickitat County Office of Emergency Management says what they’re calling the Junction Fire started around 5:15 p.m. yesterday at the junction of Highway 97 and SR 14. There were originally two fires near that area, but they did merge That fire has burned between mile marker 100 and 105 on Hwy. 14 and mile marker 2 and 3 on Hwy. 97. Crews still remain on scene.

Last night 12 different area fire departments responded and the Department of Natural Resources sent a helicopter and two fire engines. Sherman County also responded from across the Columbia. No containment estimate yet on that one.

Firefighters had better luck with the Viewpoint Fire, reported shortly after the Junction Fire on the east side of Highway 97 near mile marker 7. The Viewpoint Fire burned for several hours, but firefighters were able to contain it.

There have been no evacuation orders.

There was an earlier report of a structure being lost, but that has not yet been confirmed.


Pertussis (whooping cough) o utbreak in The Dalles – FREE Tdap vaccine clinic scheduled July 9

Due to the ongoing outbreak of Pertussis (whooping cough) in The Dalles, North Central Public Health District (NCPHD), with assistance from North Wasco County School District 21, is offering a FREE Tdap Vaccine Clinic on Thursday, July 9th, 2015 at The Dalles Middle School (1100 E 12th St.) from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

As of July 1, 2015, there are 16 cases of Pertussis in The Dalles. NCPHD has been working hard to inform all close case contacts of the actions they should take to protect themselves and others. The Tdap Vaccine Clinic will offer FREE vaccination to all persons aged seven and older that are not up-to-date on their Tdap vaccine.

If you work closely with those vulnerable to Pertussis (babies and young children, pregnant women, and those with a weakened immune system), or if you are not up to date on your Tdap vaccination, and especially if you do not have insurance, please come to the Tdap Vaccine Clinic on July 9th, 2015 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Tdap vaccine is also available at your doctor’s office and your pharmacy. If you have insurance, this is another option for receiving vaccine.

Please note; a limited amount of vaccine is available for this clinic. A second clinic may be scheduled if demand for vaccine exceeds the amount on hand.

If you have questions about the signs and symptoms of Pertussis, the effectiveness of the vaccine, or how you can best protect yourself and your family, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/index.html, or call your primary care physician or North Central Public Health District. (For more information, please contact North Central Public Health District at (541) 506-2600 or visit us on the web at www.ncphd.org.)

Oregon Department of Forestry gives update on the July 1 Willow Springs Fire out Mill Creek

Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue occupied a backup role on this fire.  Command of the firefighting effort was by the Oregon Department of Forestry. ODF public information officer Rod Nichols gave us this report, transcribed from a phone interview:

“The Willow Springs fire was reported Wednesday, burning along Mill Creek.  The fire was fortunately caught at about five acres in size and is in mop-up today. Had quite a few resources on it, both from Oregon Department of Forestry and from our federal partners because it was very dry and the fire was burning quite violently. We had an air tanker and a couple of helicopters, and some hand crews and various engines — fire engines. Fortunately, they were able to catch that at a small size, so we’re pleased with that. The cause of the fire is not determined as yet. It’s under investigation.”



Hood River County declares drought emergency

Hood River County declared a State of Drought of Emergency, in response to the urgent needs of Irrigation Districts and farmers on June 24, 2015.

In disasters or major emergencies, (drought, winter storms, flood, landslides, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc.,) Emergency Management, a division of Hood River Sheriff’s Office, may initiate a local emergency declaration, and also request a state emergency declaration. The process streamlines expediting getting relief as quickly as possible from other jurisdictions, state and federal governments to our local community.

According to current U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, annual snowpack for local mountains peaked this winter at the lowest levels measured in the last 35 years and the Red Hill Snowtel (snow-water equivalent) measurement for our Cascade region is at an all time low. Consequently, stream flows are directly impacted. The 2015 Tucker Bridge stream gauge level is already the lowest since the gauge was installed in 1979. High temperatures are compounding the situation.

The County cited loss of water supplies to three local Irrigation Districts in its declaration – East Fork Irrigation District, Farmers Irrigation District and Middle Fork Irrigation District.

Hood River county drinking (potable) water supplies are not significantly impacted by the drought at this time, however irrigation water supplies are – especially those dependent on snow melt and surface water, not ground water. Irrigation Districts don’t deliver drinking water, but play a crucial role in the Hood River’s vital economy – supporting agriculture and residential farming communities.

Twenty other Oregon counties have now declared a drought disaster, all from central, southern or eastern Oregon.


After the County declares a local disaster, it can request help from the Governor, to streamline access to Oregon Water Resources tools, to help residents and businesses gain easier permitting, lowered fees and quick turnaround time in moving or accessing water supplies or rights. These requests are turned around in weeks, instead of months, and permitting costs are reduced, in an effort to speed up local relief.

State support is not delivered by trucks that bring in water from other jurisdictions, nor is there immediate grant money available for mitigation. However, in a state declared disaster, having more flexibility from State rules in accessing local water supplies strategically, and more quickly, to expand or build wells, make water transfers from one property to another, allow temporary conversion from in-stream to ground water use, temporary transfers of water rights, use of existing right option/agreements or Emergency Water Use Permits more easily.

Due to a related USDA (federal) drought designation, Hood River County farmers, businesses and residents are potentially eligible for low interest emergency loans, which opened access for low interest USDA loans to farmers, businesses and nonprofits impacted by the drought. For more information, please contact the Hood River USDA office.

Emergency Management is one of many specialty services offered by Hood River County Sheriff’s Office, including Search and Rescue, Marine Patrol, 911 dispatch, Enforcement Division, Animal Control, Emergency Management, Civil Division and Parole & Probation.

Grass fire stops short of Pinewood Mobile Manor, Discovery Center

06 30 15 Discovery Center sign with truck in bg, charred foreground

It could have been a lot worse. A grass fire reported yesterday morning between Interstate 84 and Highway 30 west of The Dalles threatened Pinewood Mobile Manor for a time, but thanks to quick and efficient respons by local fire crews, no structures were lost, though the poolhouse at the mobile home park was slightly damaged. People who had left their cars at the parking lot at the Discovery Center were not able to get back to them for a time and those who were there were not able to leave until the fire was under control. There were no evacuations of the mobile home park. Crews came from Hood River, Dallesport, Klickitat County ambulance, the Oregon Department of Forestry, and the U.S. Forest Service.

Domestic violence, high speed chase on I-84 leads to possible attempted suicide

06 30 15 OSP photo scene of shooting

HOOD RIVER, ORE. – On June 29, 2015, Hood River County Deputies were advised of a domestic violence incident that had occurred in The Dalles involving Jerome Hawk Matilton, of St. Helens. Following the incident, Matilton fled the scene in a silver Pontiac. He was believed to be headed westbound on Interstate 84 towards Portland. According to witnesses, Matiliton was purportedly armed and had made threats towards law enforcement, should they attempt to intervene.

Just after 7 p.m., a Trooper from the Oregon State Police spotted Matilton’s vehicle on I-84 East of Hood River. When personnel from the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office and Hood River Police Department arrived to assist, the trooper attempted to stop the vehicle at Exit 62. A short pursuit followed, reaching speeds of 85 MPH. The suspect vehicle yielded at Milepost 61. When pursuing units stopped behind the suspect vehicle, a gunshot was heard. After getting no response from the car, personnel approached and found Matilton, the lone vehicle occupant, suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Troopers and Deputies were able to remove Matilton from the vehicle and perform lifesaving measures until EMS personnel arrived. Matilton was transported from the scene by Hood River Fire and was ultimately flown by LifeFlight to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland, where he was listed in grave condition Monday night.

ODOT assisted at the scene, as interstate traffic was closed to a single lane while the investigation was conducted. No shots were fired by law enforcement personnel, nor were any of the responding units injured during the incident. The Hood River County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation, which is still ongoing. No further details are available at this time.