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Wildfire breaks out in Tumalo, closes road


Tumalo Reservoir Road south of Tumalo was closed for about four hours Wednesday afternoon as firefighters worked to control a brush fire that was relatively small, but worrisome for residents in the rural area west of Bend.

The blaze broke out just before 4 p.m. on the south side of Tumalo Reservoir Road and quickly grew torching junipers and sage brush.

“It started so fast,” said Steve Booth, a nearby resident. “I saw it five minutes after it started. It spread to the tree tops, and then it took off.”

Fire crews from the Oregon Department of Forestry, including a water-dropping helicopter, and Bend Fire and Rescue engines were on scene moments after the blaze was reported.

“As the smoke got here, the helicopter got here,” Booth said, “The response was so fast. It was just amazing.”

Deschutes County sheriff’s Lt. Chad Davis said the fire burned about one-third of an acre and moved in a southerly direction, spreading slightly to the east and west as well.

The reporting party, who was driving through the area and heading home, did not see anyone in the area, Davis said. The owner of the adjacent property was not home at the time.

Early reports indicate the fire started beside the road and may have been human-caused, possibly from a cigarette. Davis said an investigation suggests the fire likely was human-caused and accidental in nature.

Many living in the area said this fire comes as a reminder of just how dry Central Oregon is as the peak of wildfire season arrives. They say people who are traveling through or recreating in the area need to obey the law and use caution.

“Don’t do anything — campfires, anything that can could cause something like this to happen,” said Brooke Smith. “Just be super-careful and respect where you are.”

The case remains under investigation, and anyone with information on the fire was urged to contact county dispatchers at (541) 693-6911.

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