9-1-1 Call Center Inundated
Last night high easterly winds sent panic through Florence as heavy smoke left many wondering if there were fires burning. At first Siuslaw Valley fire and Rescue responded to two separate calls of a fire on Munsel Lake Road and also on Ocean View Drive, but firefighters could not find a blaze. Florence’s 911 operator was inundated with calls of possible fires prompting Operation’s Chief Matt House to ask callers not to call unless they could identify flames associated with the smoke. SVFR also responded to several instances of power lines arcing. Temperatures also rose in the overnight hours with highs in the upper 70’s before midnight. Ash also accompanied the smoke last night leaving a thin layer on vehicles. The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency is reporting degraded air quality. Currently the Eugene/Springfield area is experiencing Hazardous air quality according to the agency’s website. Air quality in Mapleton is in the very unhealthy range, but LRAPA has no data for the Florence area. Wildfire crews are also continuing to work on the Sweet Creek Milepost 2 fire, at last report it was 63% contained, but the Oregon Department of Forestry has not issued an update as of this morning.
A 6 mile stretch of Highway 101 closed overnight due to downed trees. The section of roadway from milepost 127 to 133 from Otter Rock to Depoe bay is currently closed. The Oregon Department of Transportation issued the closure at 2:45 this morning. Travelers are asked to take alternate routes or delay trips until the road can be reopened.
Deadly Bicycle Accident
The Oregon State Police yesterday released details of a deadly bicycle accident near North Bend. Early Sunday afternoon OSP, North Bend Police and North Bend Fire and rescue responded to a call involving a vehicle and two bicyclists. Their preliminary investigation revealed that 56 year old Florence resident Renee Reiser was heading northbound in a Nissan Titan when it crossed the fogline and hit 42 year old Jason Dixon and 52 year old Robert Hammonds, Dixon was pronounced dead at the scene and Hammonds was transported to the hospital with life threatening injuries. The accident occurred at milepost 232 on Highway 101. OSP is continuing their investigation.
9th COVID-19 Related Death in Lane County
Lane County Public health is reporting the 9th death from COVID-19 related issues. An 89 year old man from the Eugene/Springfield area is the latest to succumb to the virus. He had been hospitalized from August 31, through September 2nd. The eighth death was reported yesterday as well a 78 year old Lane County woman died at home on September 5th. she reportedly had underlying health conditions. Lane County also reported 7 new cases for a total of 776 to date. 53 are considered infectious. OHA confirmed 154 new cases statewide yesterday for a total of 28,190 cases.
There have been reports of a fire early this morning in the Swisshome area. Several homes reportedly were evacuated, but calls from residents say they are back in their homes. The fire started near Village Loop road in Swisshome which is located across from American Laminators on highway 36. Also, early morning power outages south of the Siuslaw River Bridge have been restored.
Alert Links For Emergency Updates
High winds and smoke caught many Florence residents off guard as the city’s 911 center was overrun with calls last night. Reports of fire spread throughout the city as Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue scrambled to respond only to find no instances of fire. Acting city Manager Megan Messmer says being prepared for events such as high wind and smoke is the best way to keep non-emergency calls down, during a very busy period. She says there are alerts you can sign up for on the city’s website at ci.florence.or.us/em. She also said last night was a very tough outing for 9-11 dispatch.
“When it rolled in our systems became a little bit overwhelmed with people not anticipating it and not knowing what was happening.”
Messmer said the work load is already quite heavy for the dispatcher.
“That dispatcher’s responsibility is to answer 9-11 calls, answer the non-emergency line and then dispatch for public safety, utilities, and partnering agencies.”
Luckily there were no serious emergencies associated with the smoke. Yesterday crews finished up on work on the Sweet Creek Milepost 2 fire with 100% containment.