BEND, Ore. - Overgrown and uncared-for vacant lots are more than just an eyesore. They are also a safety issue, especially during fire season.
Two small fires in vacant lots reported in Bend Monday, one on Reed Lane, the other in the Foxborough area of southeast Bend, show the risk.
"Our concern is with these vacant lots in the city," said fire Capt. Scott Wyman. "Although they are small fuel beds, they're still adjacent to property that can be damaged."
Under city code, those lots that are privately owned have to be maintained.
"We have the responsibility to take care of our own lot," said Dana McKenzie, a Bend resident.
The main issues: cutting down on flammable vegetation like grass and brush and establishing a 20-foot fuel break along the entire property.
The danger is real, as a small fire can quickly get out of control on a vacant lot.
Monday's Foxborough fire "was about 500 square feet, mostly under trees, so we're really fortunate it didn't get into those heavier fuels," said Wyman.
The city said it is sending out letters to remind owners of their responsibility to take care of vacant lots.
Since the recession, that is getting harder, since many lots have changed ownership.
Owners have another week to avoid potential hefty fines of $810 a day.
According to officials, the best thing as always is to keep your eyes open, especially when it comes to fireworks at this time of year.
"If the neighborhood can work together and have their eyes open and save it for the Fourth of July, that's a good thing," Wyman said.