REDMOND, Ore. - (Update: New brush fire caught small near SE 27th Street-Stevens Road in Bend)
A home went up in flames northwest of Redmond Tuesday afternoon quickly and the fire quickly spread in heat and winds into nearby brush, prompting evacuations of several neighbors for more than an hour and a call-up of firefighters from numerous agencies around the region who helped stop the fire's advance.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known, but the hot, dry conditions also were evident a few hours later, when a small brush fire was reported burning in tall trees near the corner of Southeast 27th Street and Stevens Road in Bend. Crews had it stopped within about a half-hour at 1/10th of an acre, according to Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe, who said the cause was under investigation.
The fire northwest of Redmond was reported shortly before 3 p.m. in the 2500 block of Northwest Rimrock Lane 3. and spread into nearby brush, Deschutes County sheriff's Sgt. William Bailey said.
Redmond Fire Marshal Traci Cooper said the fire burned beyond the original property in two directions, a spot fire to the south and some brush to the east.
She said three people were in the home at the time of the fire. Two of them noticed and and all were able to escape without injury, in part due to a neighbor's help. The American Red Cross said it was called in to help an adult and child resident with their immediate basic needs.
Residents on Rimrock Lane 3 were given Level 3 (Go Now!) evacuation notices while nearby Lane 4 and NW 25th Street were at Level 2 (Get Set), needing to be prepared to leave at any time, Bailey said.
By 5 p.m., once crews stopped the fire's advance, the evacuation notices were lifted and residents were allowed to return home. But the sheriff's office advised nearby residents to "remain vigilant over the next few hours," in case the situation changes and new issues arise.
Engine crews from as far away as Alfalfa, Bend and Sunriver were called in to help on the scene or staff Redmond stations, along with a structural protection task force, as a tall black smoke plume was visible across a wide area.
Neighbors were busy using hoses to help firefighters as they can and to protect their homes, amid temperatures nearing 100 degrees, NewsChannel 21's Pedro Quintana reported in a Facebook Live broadcast from the scene.
A neighbor who declined to go on camera helped the home’s residents escape the fire.
Another neighbor, Lisa Laurin, said the intense fire was frightening to see.
"It was horrible, it literally shot up in the sky, the (biggest) orange flame," Laurin said. "It was not something small. It had these booms and it made these crackles."
"You know when there is a fire -- I've never really been around (one), other than a little one, your campfire, but magnify that by 100 or 100,000 and it was so fast. It just shot way up and it went way over. I was so scared."
Cooper said, “We are so dry and so hot, any fire with the conditions we’ve got, whether it starts on the outside or the inside, has a high risk of spreading quickly.”
Cooper said the home was a total loss, with no early dollar estimate. Several outbuildings and some equipment stored on the site also were damaged, she said.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.
Cooper said it was too early to determine if the fire began inside the home or outside, and investigators would have to wait to go in and get to work safely.
Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson told NewsChannel 21 deputies began the evacuations as soon as they arrived, and residents understood and were receptive to the message.
“Our first priority is saving lives,” he said.
Agencies providing assistance included the BLM and the fire departments and districts from Bend, Jefferson County, Crooked River Ranch, Black Butte Ranch, Sunriver, Alfalfa and Warm Springs. Also assisting were Redmond police, Oregon State Police and Central Electric Cooperative.