The Cowlitz County 911 Public Authority Board has selected Phil Jurmu as the new Executive Director. Jurmu has been the Longview Police Chief for the past five years and spent 25 years with LFD. The new 911 director will transition to the new standalone public authority by January
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After five days alone in the woods near Mount St. Helens, wearing only sandals and a sweatshirt, Matthew Matheny of Warren, Ohio has been found alive. The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office reports that the 40 year-old was located in the search area off of the Blue Lake Trailhead, but they haven’t yet released details of how Matheny was found, or his condition. The recovery comes less than 12 hours after the Sheriff’s Office reported that they were coordinating cell phones record with modeling software, using that information to zero in on what would be probable search locations. Matheny has been evacuated by helicopter; the Sheriff’s Office plans to release more information later in the day.
Fire danger continues to be an issue in the local area, as firefighters dealt with two separate brush fires yesterday. Fire crews have been monitoring the site of yesterday’s 25-acre brush fire that happened in the area that’s between California Way, Alabama Street and Baltimore Street. The fire was first reported early yesterday afternoon, and it quickly grew to nearly 25 acres in size; Longview Fire Chief Phil Jurmu says that this fire got out of control very rapidly. Traffic through the industrial area of Longview was brought to a standstill as 3rd Avenue, California Way, Industrial Way and 7th Avenue into Walmart were closed. That was necessary as a helicopter made water drops on the fire; Jurmu says that it’s the first time in some 20 years for air support on a local fire. Residents of the El Patio Mobile Home Park evacuated as a precaution. As many as 50 firefighters were engaged in fighting the fire. At 10 pm last night, the fire was reported to be about 85 percent contained, with fire crews maintaining a watch. Fire lines have been cut in critical areas, working to protect nearby structures. Full operations to confine and extinguish the fire will resume this morning; heavy equipment is being brought in to finish containment, which is expected by mid-morning. Work to completely extinguish the fire will continue through the day. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue is also dealing with a brush fire that was reported last night on the east side of Kelso, burning in brush and grass in the area of Highland Park Drive. Shortly after 10 last night, Kelso Police reported that the fire “has been knocked down quite a bit,” and they say that it is not threatening any structures at this time. The cause of this fire is also being investigated.
The Southwest Washington Clean Air Agency is posting an Air Pollution Advisory for the region, covering Cowlitz, Wahkiakum, Skamania, Lewis and Clark Counties. Agency officials say that intrusions of wildfire smoke into the local area is degrading the air quality, pushing fine particulate matter from those fires into the local airshed. They say that pollution levels are expected to worsen today, and then a wind shift should push the smoke away. Conditions are expected to improve by this afternoon, but higher elevation smoke will linger through the rest of the week. As of 4 am today, the Air Quality Monitoring station on 30th Avenue in Longview had an Air Quality number of 152. Any numbers between 151 and 200 are ranked as “unhealthy,” meaning that everyone should try to limit outdoor activity; you should also keep a close watch on people that are in “sensitive groups,” to make sure that they aren’t having trouble. Learn more at swcleanair.org.
Authorities in Oregon are reporting that a standoff involving an armed and barricaded subject in a house on Nicolai Road has ended peacefully. Alerts went out from Columbia County public safety agencies at about 6:30 yesterday evening, warning of heavy police activity in the area of Nicolai Road and Wasser Road. Residents were advised to shelter in place, while roadblocks were maintained by officers with rifles. After several hours, it was reported that the man had surrendered peacefully, and was in custody. Other details have not yet been released, including the name of the suspect, and the reasons behind the standoff. Oregon State Police and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office are continuing to investigate.
The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office says that Matthew B. Matheny, 40, of Warren is still missing, but they are bringing in resources that could help to narrow the search. Sheriff Mark Nelson says that some new information “gives them hope” that there could be a positive result. Search coordinators have gone over cell phone records, indicating that the phone was in the area of the Blue Lake Trail. They have also had some witness reports come in, saying that they saw a man in gray clothing, matching the description of Matheny and consistent with the cell phone data. Search leaders are using special “virtual search” software that helps determine “most likely” areas for travel, which also helps to focus searchers on specific areas. Nelson says that they still need people to call in with tips, even if they are different than other reports. Deputy Zo Gladson has been assigned to the case, and all tips are being routed through him. Call the Sheriff’s Office at 360-577-3092 if you can help out.
The woman who is seen pushing Jordan Holgerson, 16, of Kalama off of the Moulton Falls Bridge has been identified as Taylor Smith, 18, and she could be facing charges after the incident. It’s now reported that Holgerson suffered six broken ribs, two punctured lungs and a bruised esophagus after plummeting 50 feet from the bridge, landing in the water face-first. The incident was captured on cell phone video, which has been circulated all over the internet. The Clark County Sheriff’s Office says that the case is now being forwarded to the Clark County Prosecutor “for appropriate charging,” and they say that Taylor has been cooperating with investigators. Holgerson continues to recover from her injuries.
A Revised Cleanup Action Plan and Consent Decree regarding the Reynolds Metals plant in Longview is being released by the Department of Ecology, and public comment on that plan is now open through September 14th. The revised Cleanup Action Plan described cleanup methods and standards, while the Consent Decree is the legal agreement that requires the cleanup to take place as described in the Action Plan. It’s also noted that Ecology is accepting comments ONLY on the changes, and not on the entire plan and decree. They also say that comments on the proposed coal export terminal will NOT be accepted. The plan can be reviewed by going to the Department of Ecology web page.
PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center is announcing the selection of Doctor Sheila Lynam as the new Chief Medical Officer at the hospital. Lynam succeeds Eleen Kirman, who recently retired. Lynam is a pathologist, working for nearly 20 years with PeaceHealth Medical Group Pathology. As the CMO, Lynam will be responsible for providing medical oversight, expertise and leadership to ensure the delivery of safe and effective healthcare services. She will also take the lead in the development and implementation of innovative clinical programs. She says that “It is an honor” to be given this opportunity, and she plans to lead by example as she takes over the position. PeaceHealth officials say that Lynam will start her new job on September 2nd.