Before 5 p.m., the fire jumped the lines and moved west of Huntington Road, prompting new concerns. But winds began to lessen late in the day, giving fire crews a break after a rough afternoon.
Also, Redmond and BLM firefighters contained a small (1/10th of an acre) fire along railroad tracks about four miles south of Redmond. The cause of that fire was under investigation.
It was a frightening early-May start to Central Oregon's wildfire season, which usually doesn't begin in earnest until July or August. Experts have warned across the West of an early, rough fire season due to dry conditions, as evidenced by fires burning in Southern California.
With warm temperatures, dry conditions and high winds expected to linger, fire officials urged residents to avoid debris burns and use caution while out on public lands, thoroughly dousing campfires and following area fire restrictions.
Earlier Saturday afternoon, La Pine Fire issued a general alarm due to numerous fires, the worst moving to within 50 yards of the school shortly before 2 p.m.
Dozens if not hundreds of of trees and power lines were blown down, mostly in southern Deschutes County, causing transformers to explode and sparking fires. The winds and damage prompted sheriff’s deputies to urge that people stay indoors and off the roads while repair crews do their work.
The winds kicked up around 11:15 a.m., said Lt. Chad Davis, and while most of the problems were occurring south of State Rec Road, another tree toppled in Deschutes River Woods south of Bend.
A National Weather Service spotter a mile north of Three Rivers said northeast winds caused a 50-foot-tall tree, 12 to 14 inches in diameter, to fall onto a home, damaging the roof and the attached garage.
There also were reports of downed trees in Sunriver (blocking Cottonwood Lane), Black Butte Ranch and Redmond and a tree crashing into a roof in the Camp Sherman area.
No injuries had been reported.
Midstate Electric Cooperative and county public works repair crews were advised and responded to the area, Davis said. Cable and telephone lines also were downed as the winds ripped through the region.
Ryan Miller told NewsChannel 21 on our Facebook page there were "down trees everywhere" in La Pine and on roads to the east and west, but only saw one on a house so far and it wasn't big enough to cause major damage.
Several of the downed power lines were still live and throwing sparks that started fires, Davis warned. He said motorists who become trapped in their cars should stay in them and call 911 for help.
Redmond Airport was reporting a 39 mph gust around noon, along with a 37 mph gust at Madras Airport (38 mph an hour later), 36 mph at Sunriver and 28 mph at Bend Airport.
Wind-sparked power outages also began to occur in the Bend area; Cuppa Yo frozen yogurt said their Newport Avenue location was temporarily closed due to an outage.
There also were reports of downed trees and small fires in Redmond, where residents said lights were flickering or dimming in "brownouts."
Numerous weekend events were underway on an otherwise-nice Saturday, from garage sales to baseball games, but the winds made it challenging to tie or weigh things down and stay safe.
At Crooked River Ranch, for example, Jefferson County dispatchers said a large trampoline with metal legs was rolling down Horny Hollow Trail, blocking the road.
The NWS in Pendleton said the north to northwest winds of 15-25 mph with gusts to about 35 mph would continue across Deschutes County through Saturday evening, then subside overnight.
"Although these winds are not overly strong, trees unaccustomed to northerly winds of this strength are at risk of falling over or snapping," forecasters warned.
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