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Burdick Place Fire

The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office is being called in to help investigate a fire reported yesterday morning at a vacant home on Burdick Place near Kelso as a possible arson. Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue was called out to 26 Burdick Place at about 6:45 yesterday morning, when heavy smoke was seen coming from the eaves and garage of the home. Several units were called in from the Columbia Heights station and from the main station in Kelso. The fire was put out, but it was noted that the home is currently unoccupied. Around 1:15 pm, a call went out to the Sheriff’s Office, asking for Deputies to respond. They’re currently calling the origin of the fire “suspicious.” The fire did an estimated $15,000 damage to the empty building.

Barn Fire

It’s speculated that debris burning led to a fire that destroyed a century-old barn on some property near Kelso yesterday evening. A woman living in the 300 block of Witherbee Road, which is off of Rose Valley, called 911 at 6 pm yesterday, saying that a barn on her property was engulfed in flames. Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue responded, but the old structure ended up being a total loss. The woman says that her ex-husband had been on the property earlier in the day, burning some debris near the barn. Both she and he say that he got done around 5 pm, and they thought that the debris fire was out at that time. It was also noted that the old barn was partially collapsed, and as such, had a reduced value and utility. Fire officials are calling the fire accidental in nature, with no other followup planned at this time.

Limb Failure

The City of Longview Parks Department is once again taking a close look at the large elm trees lining the streets near Lake Sacajawea, after another large limb fell down over the weekend, not far from where an SUV was crushed earlier this year. Parks workers were called into to cut up and remove the limb on Sunday, which happened in close proximity to where a large limb fell and crushed Nate Nielsen’s SUV, while he and his infant daughter were driving near the lake. Nielsen tells the Daily News that the sight makes him extremely nervous, after narrowly escaping injury in February. Parks Supervisor Curt Nedved tells the paper that they checked the branch that fell over the weekend, and found that it was “brittle,” but didn’t appear to be diseased. Nedved says that they are continuing to monitor these trees, and if any are found to have problems, they will be removed.

Outage Update

CenturyLink now says that around 4,500 calls to 911 failed to get through during last Thursday morning’s six-hour outage in Washington state, including several calls from a Kelso woman who was dealing with a gas-filled bottle that that been thrown at her home. She and a companion got that fire put out, but it took nearly an hour to contact Kelso Police, after she finally found a non-emergency number. CenturyLink says that the outage was traced to a technical error in a third-party vendor’s call router, which prevented the system from properly processing calls. They say that the “Heartbleed” virus had nothing to do with the outage. In a statement issued yesterday, CenturyLink says that they and the vendor have taken steps to implement an enhanced monitoring process, and they have also addressed the router issue. CenturyLink Northwest Region President Brian Stauding is expressing confidence that the 911 system is now “fully operational and stable.”

Mine Meeting

A forum is planned for a week from Wednesday in Vancouver, where proposed copper mines in the Mount St. Helens will be discussed. WSU Vancouver is hosting the open discussion with author Bill Carter; he’s the writer of “Boom, Bust, Boom—A Story About Copper, the Metal that Runs the World.” Carter’s book talks about the impact of copper on our lives, along with the cost to health, the economy and the environment. It’s reported that Carter was poisoned by vegetables grown in his family garden, plants that were contaminated by pollutants from a nearby copper mining facility. Following that experience, Carter went on what he calls “an international discovery mission to learn more about what he describes as the most important metal in the world.” Carter emphasizes that his book is not “anti-mining,” but he does believe that certain mines should not be in certain locations. Ascot Resources, Limited is currently doing some exploratory drilling in the Green River watershed. This free lecture is scheduled for Wednesday, the 23rd, at 6:30 pm in the Dengerink Administration Building at WSU Vancouver.

Hunting Rules

The 2014 hunting rules for Washington are now in place, with some significant changes in the number of elk permits that will be issued for the Mount St. Helens game management units. Washington Fish and Wildlife reports that after six years of elevated permit levels, they have reached the management objective for the herd, working to bring it into balance with available habitat. The herd has been reduced by some 25 to 30 percent, so the number of Mounts St. Helens-area permits will be reduced by 400 in the coming year. In other changes, fees for some special permits and tags are being reduced, and a proposal to streamline the process for special-use permits for hunters with disabilities has been adopted. Full details on the 2014 hunting rules are now posted on the WDFW website.

Hoof Rot Meetings

The first in a pair of meetings on the topic of hoof rot in Southwest Washington elk is being held this evening in Vancouver. Washington Fish and Wildlife is hosting the meetings, where staff will present their findings after months of study of diseased elk in Cowlitz, Pacific and Wahkiakum counties. Regional Wildlife Manager Sandra Jonker says that their tests are showing that the hoof rot problem is being caused by the “treponeme bacteria,” which is also known to cause hoof problems in livestock, particularly in sheep. Jonker says that the latest findings will be presented, along with some proposed rules that would have hunters leave the hooves of harvested elk where they are taken, to try and prevent the spread of the disease. Jonker also says that there’s no evidence that the bacteria is harmful to humans, saying that it is limited to hooves, and doesn’t affect the animal’s meat or organs. This evening’s meeting is set to run from 6 to 8 pm in the Community Room at 1200 Fort Vancouver Way; tomorrow night’s meeting is being held at the V. R. Lee Community Building in Chehalis. Both are open to anyone interested.

Patterson Reception

You’re invited to a reception that’s planned today in honor of outgoing Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments Executive Director Scott Patterson. After eleven months in the position, Patterson is returning to C-Tran, saying that he needs to go back to Vancouver to be able to better handle some family issues. Today’s reception is being held from 11 am until 2 pm in the Cowlitz County Administration Annex Conference Room, located just north of the County Building on 4th Avenue in Kelso. The COG Staff is inviting you to join them in wishing Patterson well in his new position. Refreshments will be served.

KapStone Fire

They’re now trying to figure out what caused a fire to erupt last night in the #5 paper machine at the KapStone paper mill in Longview. 30 firefighters from Longview Fire and Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue responded to the mill a little before 9 pm last night, as mill personnel worked with the KapStone Emergency Response Team to try and contain the fire. Longview Battalion Chief Eric Koreis says that smoke and steam reduced visibility, which also hampered the response effort. All mill personnel were accounted for, as firefighters worked next to the ERT to contain the fire and get it put out. Large hatches were opened on the roof, to vent the smoke and steam, while water poured from the automatic sprinkler system. Around 9:20 pm, they declared the fire contained to the machine; the sprinklers were finally turned off around 10 pm, when the fire was found to be out. At this time, the cause of the fire is undetermined. It’s also not known how much damage was done, and how the fire might affect mill operations. No injuries were reported. Koreis says that the cooperation and preparedness of the workers on scene helped to keep the fire contained. A training exercise involving KapStone personnel and the Longview Fire Department is currently scheduled for the 25th of this month.

Sunday Chase

Thomas Henry Boyer, 25, of Vancouver is in the Cowlitz County Jail after a car chase that ended when the car that Boyer was reported to be driving crashed into a home in Woodland. Around 12:50 Sunday morning, Longview Police tried to stop a car, due to severe cracks that it had in the windshield. They claim that the driver took off instead, eventually getting over to Old Pacific Highway South in Kelso. Speeds on the old highway got over 80 miles an hour, as a Kalama Police Officer tried to deploy a spike strip near Kress Lake. Boyer avoided that, and was able to get onto I-5 southbound. The chase continued at speeds exceeding 100 miles an hour, where Boyer got off the freeway and started heading out the Lewis River Highway. Sergeant Joe Reiss says that Boyer eventually went through a six-foot cedar fence, and then ended up hitting the porch of a home on East Scott Avenue. Boyer and his female passenger took off on foot; a Longview Police K-9 found 30 year-old Tawnya Robertson in a drainage ditch some 600 feet from the crash scene. Boyer was also found in that drainage ditch. Both were taken to local hospitals, where both were treated and released. Boyer is being held on a number of charges, while Robertson was released. Damage to the home is estimated at about $5,000.