Teen driver swerves off NW 49th and into an open area – car burns and wildland fire threatened homes.

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Jun 232017

Young teen male driver swerved off NE 49th, crashed through some fencing, and off into an open area. Vehicle caught fire. Boy got out okay. Possible neck injury.

Fire crews from Redmond Fire, Crooked River Fire, BLM and others got ahead of the wind blown blaze heading southeast.

Firefighters soaked the ground near a home.

Chasing down the fire as it tries to hide deep inside the Junipers.

The car was destroyed – burned really hot.

Young driver in the back of a DCSO patrol cruiser. Was later evaluated by an ambulance crew, then released to his parents. Boy cited for DUII and no drivers license.

Meanwhile they keep putting water on the still smoldering car to prevent re-eruption of the blaze.

A young teen driver was driving a car southbound on NW 49th early friday evening when for some reason he missed a gentle curve, left the road, plowed through some fencing and finally came to rest about 50 feet off the road. After coming to a stop a fire broke under the car. The boy managed to get out before it blew.

Arriving fire crews from Redmond, Crooked River Ranch and the BLM began spraying down the burning car along with a rapidly speading wildland fire moving southeast toward some homes on Coyner.

Firefighters stopped the southeasterly spread of the blaze – then they began attacking the fire that was lingering and smoldering in the trees, on the ground and in some tree stumps. Firefighters were expected to remain on scene this evening to ensure the fire doesn’t re-erupt from any of those sources.

The boy was placed inside a Deschutes County Sheriff’s Patrol car where he complained of a very sore neck. An ambulance was called and paramedics evaluated him and determined he could be released to his parents. Law enforcement cited the boy (as a juvenile) for DUII and no driver’s license. He did have a learners permit but without having a licensed adult driver with him.

Rhoades Canyon Fire – Friday update

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Jun 232017

Rhodes Canyon Fire
Fire fighters getting a better handle on it…
BLM photo

Firefighters have spent much of the past two days building containment line around the Rhoades Canyon Fire and burning out between the constructed line and the active fire. With the burnouts, the fire acreage has increased to 14,000 acres and containment has increased to 50%. The cause remains under investigation.

“Burning out” is a technique that allows firefighters to put containment lines in safer, more accessible areas such as roads, or along existing barriers like streams or rock slides. Firefighters then deliberately ignite a fire that burns between the line and the wildfire, which removes any pockets of unburned vegetation and prevents the main fire from spreading.

For the next day on the Rhoades Canyon Fire, firefighters will continue to construct fireline, as well as hold and improve existing containment lines. Concerns for the next burning period include increasing temperatures, low relative humidity, and afternoon winds that typically come through this area.

The Rhoades Canyon Fire is burning east of Clarno, Oregon, south of Hwy 218, and east of the John Day River. The river remains open and the Clarno boat launch is not affected; however, boaters should be aware that helicopters may be using the river to dip buckets. In addition, as needed, ODOT will provide a pilot car to bring people along Highway 218, with delays expected at less than 20 minutes.

As a reminder, conditions are getting hotter and drier in Central Oregon. Everyone recreating on public land should use caution and follow fire restrictions. Know before you go! Call ahead and find out what’s allowed where you plan to recreate. In Central Oregon, fireworks and exploding targets like Tannerite are illegal on public lands and campfires and BBQs are prohibited along most BLM portions of the John Day, Lower Deschutes, Crooked and White Rivers.

Elton Gregory Middle School announces new assistant principal

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Jun 232017

Gena Bennett
New Assistant Principal
Elton Gregory Middle School

Gena Bennett of Madras has been named the new assistant principal of Elton Gregory Middle School.

Bennett began her career as a sixth grade teacher at Jefferson County Middle School (JCMS) in Madras 12 years ago. She later transitioned to an instructional coach position at JCMS, serving in that capacity for five years before moving to the district office to support new teachers and coordinate district TAG (Talented and Gifted) services.

“We are excited to bring someone with Gena’s credentials on board,” Lowe said. “Her background as a teacher and instructional coach working to implement AVID will make her a great fit at EGMS.”

AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a college readiness program that has been adopted by school districts across the United States. EGMS, along with Redmond’s Ridgeview High School, began implementing the program in 2014, aiming to prepare all students for college and postsecondary opportunities.

“I am delighted to be part of the incredible team at EGMS and eager to start the school year,” Bennett said. “I feel well prepared to start this next phase of my career and provide opportunities for all of our students to succeed.”

Bennett assumes her new position as assistant principal at Elton Gregory Middle School July 1st.

Thursday Update: OSP releases name of driver of SUV who died in fiery crash on Hwy 26

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Jun 222017

Jefferson County Fire-Rescue on Highway 26, 11 miles southeast of Madras

Vehicle crash set a fast moving wildland fire off west side of the highway.

Good Samaritans saw the accident and immediately helped get a mother and her three children out.

Heavy smoke filled the air, crossing over the highway.

Right after the mother and children got out, their SUV exploded in flame, killing the elderly male driver who was trapped in the wreckage.

Click on photos to enlarge
Oregon State Police responded to a single vehicle crash on Highway 26, 11 miles southeast of Madras on Highway 26. The crash and ensuing fire killed the driver, identified as 68 year old Michael Roach of Dallas, Oregon.

The initial investigation revealed an SUV, with the driver, a woman and her three children, were traveling northwest on Highway 26. Suddenly the SUV drifted off the pavement, the driver over-corrected, and the SUV careened off the west side of the pavement. The SUV headed out into the brush, striking a tree head-on.

A passing motorist arrived immediately after the crash and discovered three minor children in the vehicle along with a male driver and female passenger – and a fire had started. The motorist was able to pull the children and their mother out just in time. But their efforts to get the driver Michael Roach out proved fruitless. He was trapped in the wreck. Suddenly there was a large eruption of flame and the interior of the vehicle was fully engulfed. The driver perished in the conflagration.

The mother was transported via air ambulance to St. Charles Bend for treatment of her injuries. The three children were transported via ground ambulance to St. Charles Madras for treatment of what were described as minor injuries.

The Bureau of Land Management has eight fire crews at the scene and is currently working to contain the grass fire. The fire is not expected to exceed the four acre fire boundary established. Spread of the fire was held in check due to quick action by small fire retardent air tankers.

Oregon Democrats throw in the towel on corporate tax plan, pension reforms this session

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Jun 222017

Oregon State Capitol

Democratic leaders conceded Thursday that they won’t seek to raise more revenues this legislative session to solve the state’s PERS dillema or pursue corporate tax hikes. It means public pension costs will rise even further because they can’t get republican concurrence on devising higher taxes on corporations and other business interests.

“It is very clear it was tied to revenue reform,” Brown said of a bill to curb pension costs, acknowledging “it is now dead.”

Here’s more in The Oregonian. Click here.

Redmond – Head-on Crash on 97 at Veterans way

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Jun 222017

Head on crash on 97 at Veterans Way Thursday afternoon.

Workman’s S/B truck turned left into the path of a northbound sedan. Collided mid-intersection. No serious injuries.

Victim driver in the sedan appeared to be okay. Passenger was checked for possible injuries.

Traffic was backed up a long ways in each direction on 97.

The intersection of Highway 97 and Veterans way was partially blocked Thursday afternoon following a head on crash. Redmond Police say the workman’s truck was southbound on 395 at Veterans Way. As he turned left to go east on Vets Way, a car, which had a green light headed north, hit the truck head-on. No serious injuries were seen.

As a refresher on what flashing turn symbols mean – a flashing yellow means you can turn left – but only if nobody’s coming because oncoming traffic has a green light and therefore the legal right of way.

The crash caused a traffic back up in both the northbound and southbound lanes – nearly clear to the main turn off for downtown Redmond and all the way south to Odem Medo. Even Canal Boulevard was pretty congested as traffic trying to get around the back up tried their luck on city streets.

Highway 97 was re-opened to normal traffic by around 4:15pm.

Oregon Leaders Call for Balanced Budget Now, Structural Reform in 2019

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Jun 222017

Governor Kate Brown
The Oregonian photo

Governor Kate Brown, Senate President Peter Courtney, and Speaker Tina Kotek today released the following statement:

“For the past several months, the Legislature has worked hard to balance the state’s budget. There is now a clear path to rein in costs and protect vital services in this biennium. To protect access to health care and keep premiums lower, the Legislature has passed a package of bills that will save coverage for a million low-income Oregonians on the Oregon Health Plan. To reduce the cost of delivering state services, we have offered a plan to save nearly $1 billion in total funds through the Governor’s executive actions and the bipartisan cost-containment strategies in Senate Bill 1067.

“While we are able to protect critical services for now, in the long run we must do more. For two decades, lawmakers have struggled to patch together budgets that fund the basic needs of our state amidst the ups and downs of the economy. As we have said since the start of session, the shortfall in the current two-year budget is a red flag – a sign that short-term fixes will not keep up with the priorities of our growing state for much longer.

“Recognizing that imbalance, we have worked for months with legislators in both parties, business leaders, and labor leaders, to identify ways to reduce state spending, contain costs going forward, and finally reform our revenue system. While we are moving forward on several major cost containment measures, it has become clear that the Legislature will not have the necessary support to achieve structural revenue reforms this session.

“Still, we have laid the groundwork for long-term reform to bring balance to our budget and tax system. As the Legislature closes out its business, we will also start planning the next steps to lead to success in the 2019 session. We appreciate the leaders who have come forward to provide meaningful input so far, and look forward to continuing that work. To achieve resolution for our state, all parties will need to stay at the table, focus on structural reform rather than short-term patches that merely shore up the next two-year budget, and be ready to compromise for the good of the state.”

Rhoades Canyon Fire Update

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Jun 222017

Rhodes Canyon Fire
30% Contained


Nearly 100 firefighters from the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Wheeler County worked on the Rhoades Canyon Fire burning east of Clarno, Oregon and south of Highway 218 this afternoon. Steep slopes and afternoon winds caused the fire make short runs, increasing the size to 10,000 acres. Although the fire grew, crews have been successful in getting line around portions of the fire and containment has increased to 30 percent.

Wind, low relative humidity and dry fuels remain a concern for suppression efforts. Crews will work throughout the night to improve existing lines to create a solid anchor point, and will progressively build line along the flanks of the fire. Crews may also use small burnout operations to help contain the fire. Helicopters and SEAT planes will continue to use water and retardant to knock down the hottest parts of the fire and support ground firefighters during the day.

Highway 218 remains open. The fire has not reached the John Day River and the river remains open; however, boaters should be aware that helicopters may be dipping buckets in the river during daylight hours. When helicopters approach, boaters should hold up until the helicopter has moved away.