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La Pine family hurting but thankful after wildfire destroys home


A La Pine-area family is hurting but recovering, nearly a week after a neighbor’s backyard burn sparked a wildfire that destroyed their home and all of their belongings, also claiming the life of their 2-month-old puppy, Lucy. But through all of that, they’re also expressing thanks for a large outpouring of help and support.

NewsChannel 21 paid a visit Tuesday to the ruins of the Bevel family’s rental home on Loop Drive, lost to the flames of the swift-moving Bridge Drive Fire that burned 12 acres in the Lazy River subdivision north of La Pine last Wednesday afternoon.

Jae Bevel recalled he was at work at Mike’s Tire and Auto Center in Sunriver when the fire broke out. He immediately rushed home but had to wait at a Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office barricade for an agonizing 45 minutes before he could get close enough to see the devastation.

“A friend of mine, Wes, said, ‘Jae — it’s gone. Everything’s gone.’ I was, like, ‘Where’s my son?’ He was like, ‘I don’t know.’ It took everything I had to keep from falling on the ground. My heart stopped, everything stopped. I looked at the house and there was nothing left.”

Moments later, a sheriff’s deputy told him two children had been removed from the home, and he rushed back to the barricade, where it turns out his two boys had been sitting on a log, waiting. He hadn’t spotted them when he was waiting there before.

The family of four did not have renters’ insurance, nor insurance on any of their belongs, saying they had to stop it because they needed the money to pay medical bills.

Oregon Department of Forestry spokeswoman Christie Shaw said investigators determined the person responsible did have a burn permit, and followed the recommendations on the permit.

However, the nearby property owner was issued a citation for failure to control the debris burn that spread so far, so fast.

Not long after the fire, word of the Bevel family’s losses began to spread on social media. The Bevels received hundreds of comments of support and sympathy, as well as offers for help.

But one woman, Three Rivers resident Rhonda Freeman, wanted to do more than wish them well.

“When I found out the family didn’t have insurance to replace their items, I almost started crying on the way to work,” Freeman said. “So I posted in (a Facebook) group, ‘I would really love it if this community came together to help this family out.'”

“The next thing i know, it was just like a landslide. Everybody wanted to help, which was really exciting, because it really takes a village to pull something like this off.”

Freeman has arranged a barbecue fundraiser for the family on Sunday, June 9 at the La Pine Bowling Center. You can find more information at

Bevel family members don’t know the people hosting the fundraiser, and at this point have never met them. But Jae Bevel said he’s humbled by everyone’s generosity.

“People are going out of their way,” he said. “I’m extremely grateful, and it’s hard to accept some of the offers, because some of the offers are pretty generous, in my book. Even the words, the words people have been saying to us and their condolences is more than enough.”

Bevel said they’ve already received donations of clothing, shoes and sports equipment.

Someone’s even offered to give them a new puppy.

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