A fast-moving southeast Bend duplex fire Saturday afternoon that spread to neighboring brush and trees, threatening nearby homes and prompting evacuations, was traced to a tenant’s lit cigarette disposed of in a plastic can on the back deck, investigators said.
Bend crews responded around 12:35 p.m. to the reported structure fire at 1631 and 1633 SE Riviera Drive, east of SE 15th Street near the Ariel Glen Apartments, said Deputy Fire Marshal Cindy Kettering. They arrived to find the duplex fully involved, with flames spreading to the brush and trees.
As fire crews battled flames and called in reinforcements, including engines from as far away as Sunriver and Sisters, police and neighbors quickly went door to door to make sure residents were out.
Embers were spreading up to two blocks south, on Wildcat Drive, as a tall plume went up and the battle was on. A power line apparently fell behind the burning residence around 1:10 p.m.
The unit at 1633 Riviera was a complete loss, while some possessions were able to be salvaged from the adjacent duplex unit, she said.
An investigation found that a tenant in 1633 Riviera had disposed of a lit cigarette into a plastic can on the back deck without extinguishing it, Kettering said.
The can ignited, which then spread to a sofa beside it on the deck. Kettering said the fire then extended up into the attic space and living area of the duplex.
The building valued at $150,000 was a total loss, as were $45,000 of the contents valued at $60,000.
The Red Cross said it is assisting the residents – four adults and a child – with food, lodging comfort kits and other needs. Kettering said she was unsure if the tenants had renter’s insurance, but said the owner had homeowner’s insurance that does not cover the tenants’ belongings.
A nearby building at the Pine Villa Apartments sustained heat damage to a large section of vinyl siding, Kettering said.
Mutual aid was provided from Sunriver and Sisters-Camp Sherman fire crews and the Oregon Department of Forestry on scene, while the Cloverdale and Redmond departments sent crews to help cover other emergency calls in Bend.
Kettering reminded the community that proper disposal of cigarettes and other smoking materials is essential. Cigarette butts should be put in a large, non-combustible container of metal or glass – never plastic – preferably filled with water. Hot materials also should never be throw into household trash.