Fire Suspect Arrested
Lane county sheriff’s department has arrested a suspect in the Sweet Creek Fire. 44 year old Elias Newton Pendergrass of Mapleton was arrested for Arson in the first degree in connection with the fire currently burning in the Sweet Creek Area. Sheriff’s detectives in conjunction with the Oregon State Police made several interview of individuals during the investigation. Pendergrass was arrested shortly before 3 pm yesterday afternoon. Coast Radio News spoke to a neighbor of Pendergrass who said he had seen Pendergrass on Monday watching the fire from the Mapleton Bridge. Information on how Lane County Sheriff’s detectives determined Pendergrass’ involvement, but the investigation is still ongoing.
Sweet Creek Milepost 2 Fire Status
Officials with the Oregon Department of Forestry say the Sweet Creek Milepost 2 fire in Mapleton stayed within the perimeter set for the fire. While containment is still considered at 0%, the fire covering more than 513 acres was held at bay yesterday. The majority of the fire is centered around private forest land. ODF resources are currently at 417 firefighters and support personnel. Heavy equipment is being used to draw lines around the fire with air support from 5 helicopters and 2 additional aircraft. Yesterday afternoon ODF requested and received approval to move their aircraft base of operations from the old chip mill site just west of Mapleton to the Florence Municipal Airport. Florence Public works Director Mike Miller said the aircraft began arriving last night around 5 pm and the unit is fully self contained. Miller said they are pleased to be able to support the efforts of ODF and the U.S. Forest Service.
Governor Extends Homeowner Protection
Governor Kate Brown has extended foreclosure protections for Oregon homeowners and business owners through the end of the year. The governor’s office will be working with landlords, lenders and other stakeholders in the coming weeks to craft a long-term solution. Brown is also working with community leaders and stakeholders to look at options surrounding a moratorium on evictions for renters. That protection is slated to end September 30.
The Oregon Health Authority reported that the protections in place to fight the coronavirus are working. This past week the percentage of positive tests were at 4.4%. This is almost a half percent decrease from the previous week. New numbers for COVID-19 include 243 new cases yesterday and 6 new deaths brining the total number of Oregonians infected to date to 26,946 and the death toll to 465. Yesterday’s toll included a 27 year old Washington County man with underlying health conditions. In Lane County there were 9 additional cases reported with no new cases in the Florence area. The total number of cases to date in Lane County is 726.
Air Quality For Western Lane County
The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency says they do not currently have air sensors in the Mapleton area in order to report air quality. Travis Knudsen, LRAPA’s Public Affairs Manager says the agency has been deploying new state of the art Purple Air Sensors which are more affordable than previous devices. They have been installing them around the county and are currently looking for a property owner in the Mapleton Area to house one of these units. Units work on a 110 outlet and need accessibility to a wifi connection.
Holiday Gas Prices
Gas Prices have risen around the country in the wake of Hurricane Laura, but Marie Dodds with AAA Oregon says that is not the case for Oregon. Oregon has held steady through the storm and sits at $2.67 a gallon for regular gas in the state. Florence’s price for regular gas has actually dipped 3 cents in the past week to average out at a cash price of $2.43 a gallon for regular. AAA Oregon has also released the top 5 labor day destinations for Labor Day and #2 lists Florence and the Oregon Coast as a premiere stop. Concerns about the coronavirus infections with incoming visitors are warranted, businesses and individuals are urged to take extra precautions and even consider more time at home during the holiday. Forecasts for weekend weather still include sunshine but temperatures have eased a few degrees with highs predicted only in the upper 70’s.