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Early responder shares experience of Shevlin Fire


The 10-acre Shevlin fire that broke out Thursday afternoon at Shevlin Park is fully contained, but it’s the effort of a group of folks who drew little attention that helped crews get a jump on and take down the blaze.

Crews will still be monitoring the fire over the next few days, but the blaze in one of Bend’s most popular parks could have been a lot worse if not for the quick thinking of about a dozen citizens.

“It was scary,” Kyle Coats, part owner of Shevlin Sand and Gravel, said Friday. “I think — luckily the wind was blowing the right direction. I think if it was blowing a different direction — the opposite direction — it might have been a different story.”

Thursday afternoon, Coats said he noticed smoke nearing the company’s 750-acre property.

“Obviously first, we visually spotted the smoke coming from the area,” Coats said. “We didn’t know if it was our property or if it was coming from Shevlin Park.”

That’s when Coats and a few employees gathered a couple of water trucks to try and fight the flames that moved to within about 30 feet of the property.

“I hopped over the fence to Shevlin Park and started walking down the hill towards the fire, just to try to see what was going on, and I basically just ran into flames,” Coats said.

Coats said they are trained on what to do in the event of a fire, but since this was like nothing he’d ever seen, he and the group of 12 employees went with their instincts.

“Most of that is associated with evacuations,” Coats said. “But instead of evacuating we kind of just went towards the fire instead. So that was a bit of the opposite of what we’re really trained to do.”

Coats said what he and his co-workers did wasn’t heroic, just a part of their civic duty.

“I think anyone would have done what we did to protect our community and to prevent the fire from damaging any structures or anything like that,” Coats said.

Officials are saying the fire was likely human-caused. If you have any information that could help authorities, you’re asked to call Deschutes County dispatchers at (541) 693-6911.

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