Authorities in Winlock continue to investigate a house fire that apparently took three lives this morning. The in the two-story house in the 800 block of NE 1st Street was reported shortly after midnight last night. Lewis County Fire District 15 reports that a man and two boys were able to escape the fire, but a woman and two girls apparently were not able to get out. Crews from Winlock, Toledo, Vader and Napavine responded to the fire, which took more than six hours to deal with. The names of the victims have not yet been released, while the investigation into the cause and origin of the fire is now under way.
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The Sheriff’s Office is investigating another shooting in North Kelso, this one taking place at a home on Veys Drive. At about 9:15 pm, Christopher “Wyatt” Potter, 35, showed up at a neighbor’s house, saying that he had been shot in the abdomen by his roommate, Christopher Lee Yourkwitz, 41. The two men apparently got into some sort of a fight, which ended when Yourkwitz allegedly pulled a .45 pistol and shot Potter at close range. Yourkwitz took off, while Potter was taken to Saint John Medical Center under a full trauma alert; he’s now listed in stable condition after undergoing surgery. It was learned later that Yourkwitz connected with his ex-wife, apparently making plans to head into the hills with some camping equipment in a four-wheel-drive truck. The ex-wife and the truck were located early this morning at the Kelso Safeway store; she was taken in for questioning, while the truck was impounded. Authorities are still on the lookout for Youurkwitz, who is armed, and should be consider as “extremely dangerous.” Christopher Lee Yourkwitz is a white male, 5’8” and 175 pounds, with a distinctive tribal band tattoo across his face. Call 911 immediately if you have information on his whereabouts.
If you’re planning to kidnap your child and take off on a cross-country escapade, it’s probably not a good idea to keep track of that journey on your open Facebook page. Kalama Police say that’s how they easily tracked down Keith Chapple, 21, after he allegedly left town with his 1 year-old child on Monday, plans that he apparently announced on his Facebook page. Police Chief Randy Gibson says that they determined that Chapple was on his way to Arkansas, also posting from the Greyhound station in Denver, and posting a photo in Kansas City yesterday morning. Gibson says that they alerted the Missouri Highway Patrol, who caught up with the bus not far from Saint Louis. Chapple was arrested on a charge of first-degree custodial interference, and is now awaiting extradition back to Washington. The baby is in protective custody, as arrangements are made to get the child back to its mother here in Cowlitz County.
The Sheriff’s Office is looking into a malicious mischief incident reported yesterday morning, where a man being evicted from a home on Vision Drive allegedly trashed the place before he left. The owner of the home contacted Deputies at about 10:45 yesterday morning, saying that the suspect had threatened to take all of the doors off of the house if he was evicted, and that he would do other damage. Yesterday was eviction day; when the homeowner checked the house, he learned that the suspect had followed through on his threat. All of the doors had been ripped off of their hinges, and additional damage had been done inside the house. The damage is estimated to be in excess of $10,000. The suspect has been identified, but hasn’t been located.
The investigation continues after a stolen car pursuit and suspect search that took place yesterday morning in the area of North Pacific Avenue and Ostrander Road. Deputies say that this got under way around 5:20 yesterday morning, as they were pursuing a vehicle that had been stolen from Longview. After doing about 85 miles an hour on I-5, containment for a K-9 unit was set up after the suspect crashed. The track went north and east, with the dog eventually finding a hat and a coat that were thought to have been dropped by the suspect. Further searching was unsuccessful. Deputies are still working to identify and locate the suspect.
The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers is out with an alert, saying that a “Danger Zone” is being set up in the Pacific Ocean next to Camp Rilea, the Oregon National Guard base near Astoria, an area that will be off-limits while weapons are being tested. The “Danger Zone” will only be enforced when the training activities are being conducted, with a week’s notice being provided to the Coast Guard and other agencies. Red flags or lights will be posted on the beach during closure times, and warnings will be broadcast on Coast Guard radio channels. Public notices will also be posted on the Corps of Engineers web page.
The Corps is also taking public comments on its plans to accept funding from Clatsop Diking Improvement Company #9 on behalf of Oregon Liquefied Natural Gas. The dollars will help to pay for the Corps’ review of Oregon LNG’s proposal to modify flood risk projects near Warrenton, where the company is planning to build an export facility. Comments on this proposed funding source are being taken through March 23rd; full details are available on the Corps of Engineers website.
Wahkiakum County officials say that their new ferry, the “Oscar B,” is scheduled to arrive at the Puget Island Ferry Landing around noon tomorrow, and that ferry service between Cathlamet and Westport, Oregon will shut down in the middle of the day today. Wahkiakum County Public Works Director Pete Ringen says that the exact timetables are still being “fine-tuned,” but they’re saying that the ferry will be down until next Monday. Ringen says that the shutdown is needed for piling work, crew training and U. S. Coast Guard inspections of the new ferry. The old ferry “Wahkiakum” will go out of service at 11 this morning, and will head down river to Astoria for berthing. Starting later today, crews will start their training runs on the “Oscar B,” also seeing how this new and larger boat will deal with the temporary landings that are now in place. Ringen says that they hope to put the new ferry in service on Monday, following Coast Guard inspections. Work will continue on the upgrades needed at the ferry landings on both sides of the river, with a goal of having those finished by early May.
Lower Columbia College is announcing that former 19th District Senator Sid Snyder, a favorite son of Kelso, is the college’s 2015 Alumnus of the Year. Snyder, who spent more than 54 years working with the Washington Legislature, was born and raised in Kelso, and attended LCC in the early 40’s. Snyder passed away in 2012; his wife of more than 61 years, Bette, will accept the award on his behalf. It was be part of the festivities at the upcoming LCC Foundation “Horns and Halos Gala,” which is scheduled for March 21st. Previous Alumnus of the Year award-winners include Paul Laufman in 2013 and Rob Quoidbach in 2014.
The next-to-last winter term Community Conversation lecture will be focused on cancer research. Lower Columbia College Biology instructor Lucas Myers will present “Cancer Research: Perceptions and Reality” at noon today in the Wollenberg Auditorium at the Rose Center for the Arts; admission is free.
You’re invited to bring the entire family to the LCC Student Center this evening, as the Associated Students of Lower Columbia put on Family Cultural Night. Organizers say that they’ll be exploring the countries of Ireland, Somalia, Brazil, Italy and Switzerland, with an Irish band, Brazilian coffee, chocolate from around the world, henna tattoo artists, kids’ arts and crafts and caricature artists. This will run from 6 to 8 pm; it’s free and open to all.
The Marx Brothers won’t be there, but it will still be a spectacular night at the Rose Center for the Arts, as the LCC Music programs present an “Opera Gala,” starting at 7:30 pm. Admission to this event is also free.
Cabaret Follies of Lower Columbia invited one and all to the Mill City Grill in downtown Longview tonight, as the organization holds its annual meeting. This will get under way at 7:30 this evening, where they’ll go over the work done in the past year, and where members of the organization will vote for the board of directors for the coming year. Along with the brief business meeting, there will be additional fun and frivolity, along with information on how you can get involved with the group that’s bringing Cabaret back to the area in fall of 2016. Anyone interested in being involved with Cabaret can come on by and take part.
Darrell Dewite Chafin, 65, of Kelso is being charged with first-degree assault, after he allegedly shot his daughter’s boyfriend in the leg during a dispute at Chafin’s home on Williams Avenue in North Kelso. The Sheriff’s Office says that the shooting took place shortly after 4 pm, when there was a dispute between Chafin and Kevin P. Reid, 37, who had been staying at the home with Chafin’s daughter, Heather Castaneda, 34. They say that Chafin himself called 911, saying that he was trying to get Reid to leave, because Reid had been arguing with Castaneda. When Reid refused, Chafin reportedly got out a .380 pistol, and shot Reid in the upper leg. The bullet traveled through the leg; in fact, Deputies say that Reid left the hospital after getting bandages and an X-ray, because he wanted a smoke. He showed back up at the house in Kelso, riding a bicycle. Chafin is now being held without bail on the first-degree assault charge, while the investigation continues.