Another suspicious fire, this time in NE Bend

Comes days after 8 arson blazes in SE part of city

BEND, Ore. - Bend police are investigating another suspicious fire, in northeast Bend, just days after a string of arson fires in the southeast part of the city.

Officers said the 2 a.m. fire Tuesday burned a wood pile, fence and tree and came dangerously close to a home on Viking Street near Jones Road, close to Hollinshead Park.

The homeowner did not want to go on camera but told NewsChannel 21 neighbors woke him up when they saw the fire.

Police said they have interviewed several witnesses and the investigation is continuing.

At least eight apparent arson fires – one that spread to trees and five involving vehicles – hit a southeast Bend neighborhood early Friday morning, causing no structural damage but shaking up neighbors and prompting police to ask the public for help in finding whoever is responsible.

Around 2:30 a.m., a citizen reported what they believed to be a large bonfire at Ponderosa Park on Southeast 15th Street, said Sgt. Dan Ritchie.

Officers arrived to find the fire had destroyed two portable restrooms and had spread into nearby trees, Ritchie said. Firefighters responded and doused the fire, which damaged no homes, he said.

Claudia Lopez of Bend saw the fire burning in the park on her way home -- but as it turned out, that was just the first fire. The next one was much scarier for her and her family.

Shortly before 5 a.m., officers responded to a reported Dumpster fire at the Ariel Glen Apartments at 1700 SE Tempest Drive, Ritchie said. A responding officer used a fire extinguisher to douse that place, which also caused no structural damage but did damage paint on the side of a building, he said.

"My daughter heard a bang and just laughter. She heard like three or four people laughing and then just running," Lopez said.

It was no laughing matter -- that fire was right next to her sleeping children. Lopez told us, later, "Its like so close to my kids' bedroom, and I'm just thankful nothing happened to us."

Less than 15 minutes later, a Deschutes County sheriff's deputy responding to that blaze found smoke coming from the bed of a pickup truck on SE Cessna Drive.

That deputy also was able to use an extinguisher to put out the fire before there was any damage to the pickup, Richie said.

Later in the morning, officers were called out on a report of attempted vehicle arson on SE Airpark Drive, Ritchie said. Officers found attempts to set fire to four vehicles in that neighborhood, though all four sustained what he called "minimal damage."

Also, a newspaper box was burned in the same neighborhood, Ritchie said, adding that the close proximity and similarity of the fires lead authorities to believe they are related.

The fires left residents shaken in the normally quiet neighborhood.

"It's quiet -- the neighbors have been really friendly, and we've just met a lot of neat people," said Scott Janeck.

Police and fire investigators are actively working the incidents. Anyone with information was urged to contact Bend police through county dispatchers at (541) 693-6911. You can also call the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 1-877-876-TIPS, or use the form on KTVZ.COM's Crime Stoppers page. You can remain anonymous, and you could be eligible for a cash reward.

We'll have a complete report from Renee Nelson tonight on NewsChannel 21.

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