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Chief Meteorologist Justin Stapleton‘s Daily Forecast Discussion:  

We’re not seeing a lot of change in the forecast for the rest of the week, as both the high pressure ridge over the Great Basin in Utah and the low positioned in the Gulf of Alaska aren’t budging. That means get ready to see more morning clouds at the coast and highs back in the low 90s inland for the weekend.

Clear tonight with lows staying fairly mild in the mid to upper 50s, which will feel pretty humid all night. Tomorrow, another round of mountain thunderstorms are expected although they will be spotty in the afternoon once there’s enough instability to fire things up. I don’t think we’ll see any slip into the valleys and certainly not the overnight light show that we saw on Thursday evening. That said, highs will again be in the low 90s, cooler at the coast and partly sunny in the low 60s. Sunday morning, morning clouds will be a little thicker inland but they’ll be gone quickly in the late morning and back to mostly sunny by the afternoon.

Early next week, the ridge flattens out just a bit. Not enough to kill the heat more than a couple of degrees, but it should lessen the strength of thunderstorms in the mountains, making them more spotty Monday and Tuesday. Meanwhile in the valleys, the return of some morning cloud cover will cool afternoons down just a hair to the upper 80s instead of the low 90s for Monday.

Have a great weekend!

- Chief Meteorologist Justin Stapleton

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CORVALLIS, Ore. — Residents at an assisted living facility in Corvallis woke up to the sound of lightning striking a tree, then catching fire early Friday morning.

“I was very asleep,” said resident Myles Myers. “And then I woke up to what I thought was a grenade going off outside my window.”

Myers woke up around 2:30 Friday morning, as did many of his neighbors at Corvallis Caring Place, to an unfamiliar sound. The tree outside of his window had caught fire. At first, the 20-year-old was not able to see the flames, but an orange glow filled his room.

“Initially I didn’t see the tree itself until someone came in to help me out.”

Myers was in a car wreck two months ago, broke his back, and is temporarily in a wheelchair.

“I am the youngest here by about 60 years,” he said with a smile. “Everyone here is really great.”

Myers is staying at the assisted living facility for a few months until he is done with rehabilitation.

“As soon as I woke up and when I realized the severity of the situation, my instinct urge was to just jump out of bed and start running,” he said. “But that’s not something I can do. So it kind of made the situation more alarming.”

He says he felt a sense of panic: not knowing what was going on, and not being able to get out of the building immediately.

“I didn’t know if the building was on fire or if the tree right outside my window was on fire,” he said. “All I knew was that there were some big flames outside my window.”

He and other residents made it out safely – but were still unsure about what was going on.

“I didn’t know until later when the fire department showed up and told us it was lightning.”

Myers says it took firefighters about 5-10 minutes to put out the blaze.

“I’m surprised the tree is still there,” he said. “But about halfway up it’s pretty charred and gone.”

The fire did not spread and nobody was injured. But for some – the lightning strike will be a memory to hold on to for a long time.

“There was some pretty exciting fear going on at the time,” Myers said. “I think that’s the quickest I’ve gotten out of bed and into my wheelchair to date.”

 

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EUGENE, Ore. — Organizers of the Whiteaker Block Party have a lot to do Friday before the celebration kicks off Saturday.

But they say they’d be a lot more prepared if the city of Eugene had communicated with them sooner. Whiteaker Block Party organizers say it took the city months to get back to them about planning and permits.

They say there are certain things they can’t do this year, like set up canopies for the stages, because of short notice.

Streamers and some porta-potties are set up, but organizers say that’s about all they’ve been able to do for set-up until Saturday.

Organizers say they initially emailed the city back in February but didn’t hear from anyone until the end of June. They finally had a meeting at the beginning of July and then once more this week.

Organizers are also concerned with a major change this year–restrictions on Third Avenue.

“All of Third Avenue, which is usually the heart and soul of the Whitaker Block Party, it’s like where it originated. It’s, you know, where the coolest paintings and bands and just stuff is happening. It’s empty this year,” said Jason Vanderhaar, block party secretary.

City spokeswoman Jan Bohman says this year the city put restrictions on that street because of a concern for the neighborhoods. She says it’s a balancing act between the scale of the event and the livability of neighbors in the area.

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SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — Don’t let the warm summer weather fool you, especially if you’re heading out camping.

Thunder and lightning storms could happen at any time, depending where you camp.

Staff at Cabela’s in Springfield say summer, especially now, is high time for camping. And with storms popping up all over, it’s important that people headed outdoors be ready for anything.

Camping experts say having a sturdy tent with a fly is key in the often unpredictable, rainy weather.

But, when it comes to lightning, there aren’t many gear options that could help keep you safe. Even fiberglass tents have metal in them.

If you’re in a group, your best bet is to disperse to open space and get low to the ground with both your feet on the ground, or if your car is nearby, jump in.

“You’ve got the greatest protection outside of being in a building in your car. It’s just drop your tent if you have time. Throw some rocks on it so it doesn’t blow away and jump in the car and just sit in the car and avoid touching the metal and you’ll be great,” said Richard Patridge, camping retail sales outfitter.

Camping experts also suggest investing in a NOAA weather radio to get updates while you’re out.

GOSHEN DEVELOPMENTGOSHEN, Ore. — There’s a feud between volunteer firefighters and their chief in Goshen.

The Goshen Volunteer Firefighters Association wrote a letter to its board, requesting a third party to mediate and investigate the situation.

The special district’s association of Oregon spoke with firefighters this week, but the fire chief in Goshen says he didn’t know there were concerns with his leadership.

When asked if he is too tough on his staff, Goshen Rural Fire District Chief David Wolting said, “I wouldn’t say that, but that’s my opinion, and there could be contrary opinions to that.”

“Many people felt intimidated or coerced on a variety of levels and that along with that was a vote of no confidence to the chief,” said Aaron Gibbens, Oregon Volunteer Firefighters Association.

The volunteer association’s secretary won’t give specifics, but says a number of people have resigned.

Chief Wolting says he’s never received any notices. They hope to have results of the investigation next week.

FireGOSHEN, Ore. — Badly needed help from western Oregon is on the way to help fight the Beaver Complex.

Area firefighters gathered this afternoon in Goshen before heading south. They’re from Lane Fire Authority, Eugene and Springfield Fire, McKenzie Fire, Mohawk Fire, and Coburg Fire–15 personnel in all.

“This is a structural task force so our job assignment for this force is going to be protecting structures, so obviously they’ve got a situation where residential structures are threatened, and so the job of this task force will be to provide protection for some group of structures,” said Chief Terry Ney, Lane Fire Authority.

The firefighters will also be taking three engines, a water tender and a brush unit.

EZI 9 News, Oregon Community Credit Union and St. Vincent de Paul are teaming up to help kids get backpacks for back to school, and other school supplies.EUGENE, Ore. — Our annual Backpacks for Back-to-School Drive is under way.

This year KEZI 9 News is partnering with Oregon Community credit union, selling paper backpacks for a dollar. That money goes to the Brattain House and St. Vincent de Paul to buy school supplies for low income kids in Lane County.

Last year’s drive helped 4,500 kids start the school year with all the supplies they needed.

“I think kids are such an important part of our community, everyone really rallies around this cause I think for that reason and it shouldn’t be a worry for kids in Lane County to have to go to school and not be able to learn or not be ready to learn because they don’t have basic school supplies,” said Sarah Allen, OCCU marketing specialist.

You can get the paper backpacks for a dollar at any Oregon Community Credit Union branch in Eugene and Springfield and all St. Vincent de Paul stores in Eugene, Springfield, Oakridge, Florence and Albany. There will also be donation bins inside local Bi-Mart stores and several other locations. Supplies will be distributed later this month.

MonacoHARRISBURG, Ore. — The company that purchased the old Monaco plant in Harrisburg says its first units could be ready by the middle of next month.

The sale with Forest River was made final last week, and Monaco’s original management team is already back on the site to get things going.

Monaco was closed in February, leaving about 120 employees without jobs.

The company says the industry has grown over the last few years and this is the perfect time to expand in Oregon.

The staff is looking forward to hiring on old employees, so it’s up and running as fast as possible.

“We’re in the process of hiring some of the administrators back this week. So, obviously we’re going after, we’re going after the people who were there before the closure because of their experience, and we’ve been very successful so far,” said Paul Eskritt, generals manager in Dallas and Harrisburg, Oregon.

Forest River says it wants to be even bigger than before. It will start producing towable trailer brands from the eastern region, starting with Vibe and then Cherokee.

Shane AltheideALSEA, Ore. — An Alsea man is in jail, accused of trying to meet a minor for sex.

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office arrested 39-year-old Shane Altheide on multiple charges.

Deputies say he was “sexting” with a girl under the age of 16 and tried to meet her for sex.

The Sheriff’s Office says the arrest serves as a good reminder for parents to always know what their kids are doing and who they are communicating with.

“That’s one thing that we always encourage: is parents to be aware of what their children are doing online, with their phones, with their Facebook, and with social media contacts,” said Captain Greg Ridler with BCSO.

Ridler says one of the girl’s parents intervened in the case. Altheide was arrested on charges of the online sexual corruption of a child in the first degree, luring a minor among other charges.

“It’s good to be involved, and in this case, the parent was involved and it did prevent a tragedy I believe,” he said. “And it could have led to something much worse.”

Altheide is at the Benton County Jail with his bail set at $375,000.

train vs pedestrianEUGENE, Ore. — A woman is fighting for her life after being hit by a train.

It happened near the intersection of Bethel Drive and Highway 99.

Staff with the train company, Portland Western Railroad, called 9-1-1 just before 1:30 p.m. Friday.

Eugene police officers say the 41-year-old woman suffered life-threatening injuries, but could not provide any more details.

The train will be stopped until the investigation is complete.

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