BEND, Ore. - The Bend Fire Department responded to a much greater than average number of calls for service during the 4th of July week, as expected. The average daily call volume for 2017 was 29.6; during the July 4th week the BFD responded to an average of 40.7 calls per day, with 61 calls on the 4th.
The fire department handled two structure fires during the week, along with the 25-30 medical calls that are a daily occurrence. These two fires caused about $87,000 in damage.
Despite mounting a campaign to educate people on the hazards of fireworks, the BFD responded to at least 12 fires caused by people misusing them. The most visible one was the 10-acre fire on Pilot Butte, which was fueled by light and dry fuels and pushed around the base of the butte by strong NW winds. Bend Police led a successful investigation, resulting in the arrest of two suspects.
It is important to understand that the use of fireworks during the summer puts our community at risk of fire, places the risk of injury on the user. Anyone who puts a match to a fuse is legally responsible for not only any damage and injury which the fireworks causes, but also may be required to pay the costs of fire suppression.
The rural fire district, which encircles the city, experienced no brush fires or fireworks incidents during the week, which may point to the effectiveness of Project Wildfire, which has been addressing wildland fire concerns in the area for several years.
Although the busy week of the 4th is behind us, the Bend FD is anticipating an active fire season, as the weather warms and the fuels continue to dry out. Please be careful with any potential source of ignition, and ensure that fuels – bark mulch, firewood and other materials and items that can burn – are at least five feet from any structural component.