Members of Local 153 of the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers are out on the picket line this morning, out on strike against KapStone Paper and Packaging. Local 153 President Kurt Gallow says that this is an officially authorized Unfair Labor Practice Strike, protesting what he says are illegal activities by KapStone. Earlier this month, the company made the “impasse” declaration, also announcing that they were going to impose the provisions of the last contract offer that was rejected by the union membership. Gallow says that about 100 members of the Local are out on the strike line this morning; the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Labor Council is also announcing that they stand in solidarity with Local 153, and they’re asking for local labor groups to also show solidarity. This is the first strike involving the Longview millsite since 1978.
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Beleaguered fire crews could get a bit of relief over the weekend, saying that southwest Washington and northwest Oregon could see the first “substantial rain in quite some time.” The Weather Service says that this could be the most rain that we’ve seen since March. Rain levels could exceed an inch over the weekend, possibly as much as two inches on the coast and in the Cascades. While outdoor activities could be affected by this rain, snow levels are expected to stay above 8,000 feet. This rain will also bring up oil and other fluids that have been deposited on local roads over the past few weeks, making for some slippery road conditions. Sunshine is expected to return early next week.
It doesn’t look like any serious damage was done, but someone could be charged after a house fire that was reported last night at a home on Alter Street in West Longview. Fire crews were called to 107 Alter shortly after 8 last night, when heavy black smoke was seen coming from the carport of the vacant house. Those on the scene say that some fireworks caught a debris pile on fire, which then spread to the carport. The fire was put out before serious damage was done. No citations were issued at this time, but it is noted that it’s illegal to possess or to light fireworks at this time of year.
A 57 year-old Woodland man is in the Clark County Jail, after he was identified as the person who set a fire yesterday afternoon on I-5 near Ridgefield. The Clark County Sheriff’s Office put out a press release yesterday afternoon, reporting that 911 calls about a fire next to the freeway started coming in just before 3 pm. As fire and police agencies were responding, additional calls about a man starting these fires were coming in. State Troopers were able to detain Samuel Morales of Woodland, booking him into the Clark County Jail on a second-degree reckless burning charge. They also say that Morales has a misdemeanor warrant out of Woodland. The fires caused only minor damage, burning some grass and bushes.
A “Level 1 Evacuation Notice” is now up for people living near Alder Lake, up near Mineral, after a wildfire in that area grew to more than 170 acres in size. The Alder Lake Fire was started by lightning back on the 11th of this month, burning in closed-canopy timber about four miles from the town of Elbe, on the south side of Alder Lake. More than 100 firefighters are dealing with this fire. The Level 1 evacuation means that residents of the area can leave voluntarily, but they are advised to start making precautions to leave if things change. Get more information Lewis County Sheriff’s Office web page.
As the Cougar Creek Fire near Glenwood continues to burn, the Forest Service is now closing all public access to the Mt. Adams Wilderness Area. This closure is currently set to expire on October 30th, unless other action is taken by the Forest Service. This closure also affects the entire length of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, so long-distance hikers will need to improvise routes further west, going through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The Cougar Creek Fire has now grown to nearly 38,000 acres in size, with more than 550 firefighters battling this fire.
At 6 pm today, the Department of Natural Resources is closing its volunteer intake centers that had been set up in Castle Rock, Omak and Colville, saying that the call they made last week had a tremendous response. DNR says that thousands of people stepped up after the call for volunteers went out, and they have been able to distribute those volunteers to where they can best contribute. DNR officials say that the response has been “heartwarming and humbling.”
The Sheriff’s Office is out with additional details about a vandalism and theft incident reported earlier this week at a logging operation out of Castle Rock, now saying that upwards of $20,000 damage was done to a pair of $600,000 log processing machines. The machines, along with a water truck, were reported used for target practice, and some items were stolen. Deputies continued to investigate the incident, and were led to Jacob Howe, 19, of Castle Rock. It’s claimed that he and some buddies went up to the site off of the end of Ostrander Road, where they allegedly shot up the machines and the truck, poured out buckets of oil by taking lids off and then rolling them down a hill, and then stealing a number of things. An 18 year-old from Kelso and a 16 year-old from Castle Rock are also being questioned in connection with this incident, and will also face charges. Much of the stolen material and the shotgun supposedly used in the incident were supposedly seized at the 18 year-old’s house. Howe is now being held without bail on charges of first-degree malicious mischief and third-degree theft. Additional arrests are anticipated.
Kelso Police are investigating a report of an armed robbery that took place last night near the old Juvenile Center off of Croy Street. The victim called 911 around 11:40 last night, claiming that she and her boyfriend were accosted by a man who came out of the bushes, holding a semi-automatic pistol. The female caller says that the man demanded money, and then threatened to take her and a vehicle if he couldn’t get some cash. The victim says that the suspect may have been Hispanic, and said some things that indicate a possible gang tie. She was able to provide some additional descriptive information on the suspect, but no arrests have been made.
The Longview Police Department is using its new Facebook page to send out an alert about counterfeit money that’s now showing up in the local area. LPD reports that a dozen local businesses have reported getting bogus bills, with the incidents starting around June 1st. The latest incident was reported yesterday, when a coffee shop on Ocean Beach Highway reported getting a counterfeit $50. In addition to yesterday’s incident, Longview Police say that there have been 18 incidents involving fake money this summer, involving $5’s, $10’s, $20’s, $50’s and $100 bills. LPD is also posting pictures of a man and a woman who allegedly passed a fake $50 at a local coffee shop on the 18th of this month. LPD is cautioning local businesses to be sure that their bill-checking procedures are in place, while also asking for citizen tips regarding the suspect photos. Call Longview Police at 442-5800 if you can help out with these incidents.
The final 13 Nights on the River concert in St. Helens will feature some Throwback Thursday rock-and-roll royalty, as Marv and Rindy Ross reassemble “Quarterflash” for a show on the riverfront. The free concert on the waterfront in Olde Towne St. Helens will begin at 6 pm, following the open-air market that’s open from 3 to 6 pm. Admission is free, and the whole family is invited to attend.
Crews from Longview Fire and Cowlitz 2 got an early wake-up call today, after a fire was reported in one of the buildings at the KapStone Paper and Packaging mill site in Longview. Firefighters from both agencies were called out at about 4:35 this morning; details on the size and the cause of the fire aren’t yet known, but noted that the building involved with the fire was NOT being evacuated. An initial examination indicates that this was a “flash fire” in one of the machines, and quickly went out on its own. It does not appear that mill operations will be affected by this incident, but the fire investigation is continuing.