La PINE, Ore. -

A wind-whipped garage fire spread and heavily damaged a home in a neighborhood south of Sunriver Wednesday afternoon,  but La Pine fire crews were able to keep it from being destroyed, officials said.

The fire was reported around 12:15 p.m. at 55967 Wood Duck Drive in the Oregon Water Wonderland No. 2 subdivision, said Chief Mike Supkis of the La Pine Rural Fire Protection District.

Homeowners Don Richter and Etsu Toyoda were away from home when the fire broke out, Supkis said. Toyoda returned to the home and noticed smoke coming from the garage. She was able to open the automatic garage door to investigate and had smoke and flames roll out, the chief said.

Around the same time, neighbors called 911 to report the blaze. The fire district responded with an engine, two water tenders and two command units, while Sunriver sent an engine company as well, for a total of 15 firefighters and seven support personnel.

Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies also assisted at the scene, while Crescent firefighters handled an unrelated medical call for the district, Supkis said.

Fire crews were hampered by an afternoon pickup in winds, driving the flames into the home’s attic. They used positive pressure ventilation and an aggressive initial knockdown and interior attack, Supkis said, adding that crews were on scene for about three hours.

The fire was determined to have started at a spot in the garage. The fire chief said the exact cause is not yet known, but is not considered suspicious. He said investigators are looking at a portable space heater, an extension cord and chemicals from some recent fiberglass hobby work found in the area where the fire began.

The home was insured, Supkis said, and the couple is staying with neighbors at present.