BEND, Ore. - (Update: Bend Fire tallies downed trees and power lines; affected businesses comment)
A windstorm raked the Bend area with winds gusting past 60 mph Tuesday, snapping trees and power poles and putting thousands of homes and businesses in the dark. The rest of the High Desert also was buffeted by strong winds.
Police, fire crews and utility workers scrambled to block streets and run from one downed power or utility pole or tree to the next. There were no immediate reports of any injuries.
Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe said the agency responded to 17 calls in just over two hours, mostly due to wind-related problems, including at least eight for downed power lines/
Northeast Bend was the hardest hit. Downed lines over a block-long area sparked a small brushfire in the area of Fifth Street and Burnside Avenue. A tall tree snapped near its base in the parking lot of Bend Burger Company on Third Street.
Fire crews and police quickly responded and worked to block the street and keep people away from several downed power lines.
No one was hurt, but a car did get hit by the falling tree. Fire and police crews immediately responded to the area, working to keep curious bystanders away from the all the downed power lines.
Pacific Power and the ODOT Emergency Response Team also showed up and southbound traffic on Third Street was redirected into the left lane only.
At least four businesses in the area lost power, including Rigoberto's Taco Shop, where owner Damian Castaneda said certain menu items were still being sold, but they were only accepting cash until the power was restored.
"That’s the goal, hopefully, or if not, we’re just going to have to shut down soon or wait until the lights come back on,” he said. “We have customers coming in and we are helping them out to serve what we can.”
Among the other businesses affected were Central Oregon Disaster Restoration, where Jim Rawlings said he heard the tree snap.
“There wasn’t an electrical noise, but I heard the tree just snap,” he said. “It was a big, loud, cracking noise and we lost our power. We have no power at all. And it upset our receptionist a little bit — she was a little nervous. Because she usually parks right there, and she wasn’t there, so luckily it did blow the other way.
Tuesday evening, crews were out replacing the utility pole.
Other downed trees, poles or lines were reported in the areas of Jones Road, Yeoman Road and Norton Avenue on the Eastside and a tree toppled onto a house in the 700 block of Newport Avenue on the Westside, as well as a big fallen tree at a home near Shevlin Park.
Howe said power was out along Northeast Third Street, and several of the downed power lines were along that corridor.
A large tree also was reported down onto a house in NorthWest Crossing in an alley between Sacagawea Lane and Lemhi Pass Drive. A witness said a gutter was pulled down, with minor damage to the house.
Pacific Power reported around 1 p.m. that nearly 1,900 customers had lost power on Bend’s north side, with scattered outages elsewhere in the area. The number dropped to about 1,500 about 20 minutes later but rose again later in the afternoon. Track their outages here.
Central Electric Cooperative also reported scattered outages, the largest of nearly 50 members east of Bend.
The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory through 7 p.m. Tuesday for southwest winds 20 to 30 mph and gusts up to 50 mph.
However, the Bend Airport east of town reported a 61 mph wind gust around 1:30 p.m. and winds gusted to nearly 60 mph in town as well. Winds gusted to 46 mph at Prineville Airport in the early afternoon.
The winds also fanned a field fire that burned about eight acres west of Powell Butte Highway near the Bend Airport east of town. Howe said embers from a previous debris burn were kicked up by the winds. Four engine crews responded and were able to stop the fire, which caused no damage.
Bend Fire reminded people to avoid driving into areas with downed power lines, due to the hazardous situation. He also said cars driving through the work area can distract and endanger repair crews.
"If you see barricades blocking a street, please find another way to go," Howe said.