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Redmond teen arrested in DUII crash that sparked wildfire

Blaze stopped at 2 acres after task force call-out

REDMOND, Ore. - (Update: Redmond teen charged with DUII in crash that sparked fire)

A Redmond teen was arrested on DUII charges after a crash sparked a fast-spreading brushfire in the Tetherow Crossing area northwest of Redmond Friday evening that threatened two homes and prompted call-out of a regional firefighting task force, which helped extinguish the blaze, officials said. 

The single-vehicle crash was reported shortly before 6:30 p.m. in the area of Northwest 49th Street and Coyner Avenue, said Deschutes County sheriff’s Lt. Ty Rupert.  Oregon State Police troopers also were called out.

Arriving deputies found a black 2006 Infiniti G35 had crashed through a wire fence and caught fire, igniting grass, nearby trees and eventually spreading to a Central Electric Cooperative power pole.

Redmond Fire Battalion Chief Dick Knorr said the car left 49th Street, broke a guy wire on the pole and came to rest about 20 feet from the road.

The car caught on fire and ignited brush and juniper trees that threatened two homes in the area. The car apparently was destroyed by the fire and the driver, a 16-year-old Redmond boy who was alone in the car, complained of minor neck pain and was treated by medics and released at the scene.

An investigation revealed the driver was impaired and under the influence of intoxicants at the time of the crash, Rupert said. He said the teen had a valid permit but no driver’s license. He was arrested and cited in lieu of custody for DUII and released to his father.

With the fire threatening two homes and spreading quickly, Redmond Fire officials issued a call-out of regional Task Force 2, with units from several area agencies, as well as mutual aid to cover other fire calls. The task force was released shortly before 8 p.m. as the mop-up was being completed. 

The fire was stopped at about 2.2 acres, as initial attack units contained the fire and the mutual-aid crews assisting in extinguishing the car and involved area.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, the battalion chief said.

Knorr provided NewsChannel 21 with these details about the fire, and why the task force was called up:

"When we first arrived, we were dealing with a steady wind from the northwest. I was not sure the initial attack units would be able to stop the fire before it reached one of the structural exposures.

"The fire was spotting ahead of the main fire and came within 15 feet of the structure.  Had the fire reached the structure, we did not have enough resources to extinguish the brush fire and a structure fire at the same time. 

"If the structure burned, the chances for additional spot fires increased dramatically.

"Task Force 2 was Plan B. In the event the fire escaped the initial attack, the Task Force 2 resources would have been used to protect downwind exposures and flank the fire."

Knorr said it took about 45 minutes to contain the fire and another 3 1/2 hours to complete mop-up.

Nearly 40 personnel were involved in the effort. Agencies providing mutual aid assistance included the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, Oregon State Police and fire crews from Crooked River Ranch, Crook County, Sisters, Bend, Jefferson County, Black Butte Ranch and Cloverdale, as well as CEC and the Bureau of Land Management.


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