Fire destroys luxury coach; drier weather on the horizon; Reedsport library to close; 911 prank is criminal; School board races

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Fire destroyed high-line motor home

The occupants of a luxury motor home escaped unharmed, but their $200,000-plus bus was gutted early Thursday morning by fire.  Siuslaw Valley Fire Marshall Sean Barrett said the couple were camping at Heceta Beach RV Park Wednesday night and were awakened just before three a.m.

A British Columbia couple and their two cats escaped without injury after their 2003 Beaver Motorhome caught fire early thursday morning. (Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue photo)

Sean Barrett – “Smelled smoke, woke them up.  They got out to check and the outside was on fire.  Not the inside, but the outside, the back, was on fire.”

It took about 20 minutes for firefighters to contain the blaze and nobody was injured.  Barrett said the initial investigation traced the cause to the electrical system near the engine compartment.

Sean Barrett – “I’m Pretty sure it was electrical from what he says and from where the fire started, but I’m not sure exactly what.”

Barrett did not release the names of the couple, but said there are from British Columbia.  Firefighters spent about two-hours on the scene.  Nobody was injured and Red Cross Volunteers responded to provide assistance to the occupants.

Meteorologist says drier weather on the way

We’ve already exceeded the 60-year average of about 10 ½ inches of rainfall in Florence for the month of March… right now we’re at 16 inches.  And that’s on top of the record breaking 22-inches in February.  Tyree Wilde is a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Portland.  He says don’t despair… we’ll begin drying out.

Tyree Wild – “Eventually we will, but for the next ten to 14 days it looks like we’re going stay in this cool wet pattern.”

We just need to get into the first part of April and we’ll see some changes.

Tyree Wilde – “Once we get into kind of more into mid April, into May time frame, it looks like our temperatures probably going to be come up to normal, near normal and we’re probably going to get into a drying phase.  It looks like the outlook for, certainly for April is below normal precipitation.”

The drier and warmer weather should make outdoor recreation considerably more comfortable and enjoyable.

Harmless looking prank could delay emergency assistance

Law enforcement officials are warning of what some may think is a harmless prank, but actually ties up 911 lines with unnecessary calls.

Siri, the virtual assistant on your Apple iPhone, can look up numbers for you.  That’s well known.  But what is lesser known is that if you ask her about the number 108, or several other three digit numbers, she’ll wind up connecting you with 9-1-1.

Douglas County Sheriff’s Sergeant Brad O’Dell says sometimes people think it is funny to trick someone into doing this, but he adds, it’s “very serious and potentially criminal”.  Even if you believe you have terminated the call in time, it still may ring into the 9-1-1 center.  He says to spread the word about the prank and that it could prevent someone else from getting help quickly.

Library in Reedsport closing April 1st

Douglas County is expecting to be out of the library business by the end of this fiscal year.  County Commissioners in Roseburg ordered the closure of ten branch libraries earlier this year.  The list includes the branch in Reedsport.

The branches will close April 1st.  The main branch in Roseburg is set to close its doors June 1st.

Some of the branch libraries may remain open on a limited basis if local communities organize to staff and supervise them.  That would require intergovernmental agreements between the cities and Douglas County.  Even then they would likely only be allowed to open as “reading rooms” and not be allowed to lend books.  That’s according to Joe Ross.  He is organizing an attempt to keep the libraries open.  He said a hearing is scheduled for April 5th at the Douglas County Courthouse.  Commissioners are trying to find a long-term solution to funding their library system.

Two of four local school board races contested

An effort to draw more candidates for local school board elections and give voters a choice seems to be paying off in Florence.  Two of the four seats up for election on the May 16th ballot have drawn challengers to incumbents.

Paul Burns, a U.S. Forest Service biologist, has served three terms on the board in Position 4.  He is opposed by retired community relations consultant Elizabeth Miller.

At Position 6, Suzanne Mann-Heintz has been serving for six years.  She is a retired teacher.  Long-time area-resident Jesse Chapman is running against her. Chapman did not list an occupation on his filing.

Two other Siuslaw School Board members are running unopposed.  Current Chair Bill McDougle was appointed to fill a vacancy in 2015.  He’s running for the remaining two years of that spot.  John Barnett is seeking reelection to Position 2.

Ballots are scheduled to be mailed April 27th.