BEND, Ore. - Sparks from metal-cutting ignited leaking fuel from a snowmobile Monday evening, and the resulting fire burned two snowmobiles and threatened a southeast Bend home before crews stopped it, officials said.
Firefighters were called just before 7 p.m. to the spreading fire at 61321 Wecoma Court, the home of Rod and Michelle Orth, said Deputy fire Marshal Dan Derlacki.
Crews arrived to find two snowmobiles on a trailer, fully ablaze, and flames spreading to a tree and the nearby home. Derlacki said crews quickly put out the blaze before the home could ignite. A pair of neighbors also used garden hoses to battle the flames before fire crews arrived.
Losses were estimated at $3,000 to the vehicles and $1,000 to the building.
Derlacki said investigators found the fire was caused by sparks from metal cutting that ignited fuel from one of the snowmobiles, which the homeowner reported had been leaking fuel on Sunday.
The cutting of metal bars sent a spark that ignited fuel that had leaked from a snowmobile onto the trailer. The fire spread to the second snowmobile, a Ponderosa pine and the nearby home, Derlacki said.
Derlacki said the couple's defensible space around their home -- a tree limbed up high -- helped keep the fire from seriously damaging their home.
"They had good defensible space around the home," Derlacki said. "Trees are limbed up, there's not a lot of brush next to the house, so really the only impingement to the house is the heat from the actual fire."
He reminded residents to repair vehicles if a fuel leak is detected, as any sort of spark or flame can ignite the spilled fuel.
"Also, when cutting or grinding metal, be sure to know exactly where the sparks are going," Derlacki said, noting that "sparks can land as far as 20 to 30 feet away from the cutting," igniting spilled fuel, oil or dry grass.
"Be sure to have plenty of space between the cutting and combustibles, and have a bucket of water or hose nearby, just in case of fire," he added.