Deschutes River Woods fire displaces 2 families

Neighbors close to the blaze recall panic, terror

POSTED: 6:54 PM PDT July 27, 2013    UPDATED: 6:55 PM PDT July 27, 2013 
DRW homeowners sift through damage from fire
BEND, Ore. -

Residents in Deschutes River Woods are hugging each other a little tighter on Saturday and sifting through the damage left after a fast-moving fire ripped through the wooded subdivision south of Bend on Friday.

One home was completely lost to the fire, while another family waits to learn the fate of its home that's still standing, as it could have extensive wiring damage.

Next-door neighbor Janet Zapata, whose home escaped damage, saw it all.

"It exploded, and then the tree is all on fire. I mean it went like pshhhh, that fast!" Zapata said Saturday.

It was Shane and Jennifer Haller, their two children and their two foreign exchange students who lost their home.

They also lost a dog to the blaze that fire officials say started from an electrical malfunction in the living room.

Bryan Weaver was at work when he got a call Friday afternoon that his house might be on fire.

He rushed to get home to his family -- and was expecting the worst.

""My first thought was, 'Thank God the house was still standing,'" Weaver said. "Second thought was, the damage was bad."

Besides some melted moldings and broken windows, Weaver's house looked untouched from the outside, but his family of four can't sleep under its roof.

"It's too much smoke damage inside the house," Weaver said.  "And since it got so hot from the fire that it possibly melted the electrical wires, so we can't stay there until we get everything checked out."

The backyard is a different story, covered with charred rubble and burned trees.

The family also lost a car and a camper used as storage space, plus mementos gone forever.

"Mainly stuff that belonged to my father before he passed away," Weaver said. "A lot of the pictures were of my father."

And as they sift through the rubble, the Weavers are grateful it wasn't worse, and are heartbroken for their neighbors who lost everything.

"He's(the man whose house was destroyed) like, 'at least his family is safe and he was just saying that they'll rebuild,"' Weaver said.

Another next door neighbor's home was completely untouched.

"The reason that this house didn't go was because of the wind and firefighters," Zapata said of the home she owns and is getting ready to rent out.

It's a fast-moving fire that neighbors say thanks to firefighters ended almost as quickly as it started.

Zapata said her son and another neighbor helped some of the Hallers' dogs by breaking part of the fence and letting them out the backyard. But another dog was lost to the blaze.

Weaver said his brother suffered second-degree burns on his feet while he was trying to save the family's home by hosing it down with water.