Mapleton Fire Fatality; Middle School Principal; Fantastic Food Drive; Fire Progress

Coast Radio News
Local News

July 30

Fire Death in Mapleton

A Mapleton woman and her two dogs perished when a pair of motor homes caught fire and burned near Mapleton Saturday night.

52- year old Patricia Eilene Howell lived alone in the RVs near milepost 15 on highway 126.

Mapleton Fire responded just before nine PM Saturday and found the two motor homes, parked about 100 yards off the highway, in flames.  Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue also responded.

The fire prompted closure of the highway for a time while it was brought under control.

Firefighters discovered the remains in one of the burnt out units and immediately called in State Police who began the investigation that night.

They worked through Sunday afternoon and said preliminary evidence showed Howell, who used the RVs as her primary residence, died as a result of the fire and there was no indication that the fire was intentionally set.

School Dispute Ends

An apparent ongoing dispute between a former middle school administrator and the Siuslaw School District appears to have been resolved.  A special meeting scheduled for last night to consider the possible dismissal of an unnamed district employee was cancelled and a district spokesperson said the issue was – quote – “resolved to the mutual satisfaction of all parties”.

However, in an email to district employees last week, former middle school Principal Lisa Peterson called it a termination and said she was “blindsided”.

Peterson had been reassigned last spring and told she would be a Vice Principal.  In her email, she claimed since then the only correspondence she has had with the district was a letter saying she would be terminated as of July 30th.

Peterson listed 9 reasons specified by the district in her correspondence, including misuse of time, inaccurate communication and violation of the rights of a Native American student.  She disputes all of the allegations.  Peterson also said district officials told her she – quote – “failed to serve as a role model for students and staff and to act at all times with personal integrity and honesty.”

District officials, citing personnel confidentiality, are remaining silent.

Progress on Douglas County Complex of Fires.

Another 30 homes have been evacuated because of the wildfires burning in southwest Oregon.  That brings to 105 the number of houses evacuated because of the Douglas Complex fires, which have scorched 33 square miles, or 21,000 acres, in Douglas and Josephine counties.

Another 300 homes are threatened by the lightning-caused wildfires.

More than 1,000 firefighters are battling the blazes, which are only 2 percent contained.  The fires have yet to burn any houses or cause any major injuries.

Wildfire season in Oregon typically begins in late July and runs well into August. The Douglas Complex, centered in and around Glendale, south of Canyonville, is one of six major fires in the state.

Besides the evacuations, the Josephine County Sheriff issued road closures Monday afternoon.

Fantastic Food Drive

Authorities at Florence Food Share say it was the largest yield by any single organization food drive they can recall.

Caregivers at PeaceHealth started out to raise a “ton” of food during a drive between July 1st and the 19th.

Instead they came up with nearly twice that… 3,737 pounds.

Food Share delivered contribution barrels to each building on the Peace Harbor campus on the 1st of July and picked up them up nearly three weeks later.

By then, there were full of canned soup and beans, chili, boxed meals and even personal care items like tooth paste and shampoo.

According to Kat Rannow, PeaceHealth Communications, Florence Food Share provides more than three-quarters of the food for those in need in our community and the need increases in the summer when children that would normally benefit from school breakfasts and lunches are out of class.