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New Deschutes River Woods ‘fire squad’ aims to prepare for — and prevent — the worst

(Update: Adding video, comments)

'I hope we do this forever.'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- As devastating wildfires rage across Oregon, residents continue to fear for their property and livelihoods -- if not from these blazes, then the ones that lie ahead.

Towns and communities have been destroyed, and others looking on from across the state are worried they, too, might lose everything.

Some residents of the Deschutes River Woods neighborhood south of Bend are taking matters into their own hands.

In a proactive effort due to their area's high fire risk, dozens of neighborhood residents gathered behind the Riverwoods Country Store Monday evening, launching a 'fire squad' effort to educate, prepare and avoid disaster.

DRW resident Bernice Gates is one of the neighbors leading the charge.

"We're trying to bring awareness, because our neighborhood is loaded with fuel," Gates said. "Pine trees, pine needles, and some unwanted clutter."

The group was started through a community Facebook page called the "Deschutes River Woods Fire Squad" in an effort to protect residents from the present wildfire danger across much of the entire state.

Residents like Gates are taking extra precautions to avoid the risk of a wildfire starting by removing debris, monitoring tree lines, and keeping an eye out for others.

She said she hopes their efforts inspire other communities across Oregon to come together and be prepared during these unprecedented times.

"I don't know if we'll meet weekly -- there hasn't been firm discussion on how often we will meet. But this will go on forever, hopefully," Gates said.

It may sound like a difficult task, but with dry conditions and high temperatures, this is the reality facing Central Oregon.  

Bend / Central Oregon / Deschutes County / Fire Alert / Top Stories
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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.



  1. Evidently these folks have never heard of Deschutes County’s Project Wildfire which deals with rural/urban fire threats, defensible space for your home, and posts evacuation route, including for DRW.

    1. re: Sagerat they have and made it clear.. sometimes though. if a train is on the tracks that part of the route will be blocked off.. or.. if one route is blocked due to a fire they need to go a different route.

    1. re: cipickett. some of those people are senior citizens maybe with no means to really clear out the pine needles.. also.. the pine needles are a never ending battle there.. They fall just about all year long.. senior citizens are on a fixed income.. they can’t pay someone 24/7 to clean up pine needles or to keep raking them away from their home day after day.

  2. that’s all drw needs is a bunch of californians who think they got a little power, running around harassing their neighbors over properties not being quite up to the newcali code. the real danger can stay because trees and bushes are pretty, but the project cars gotta go and lawns gotta be cut down to less than 3/4 of an inch

    1. re: lester aloysius dabbins.. so you know automatically the ones who set this up are californians.? (maybe even from paradise california that recently had a major wild fire rip through and destroy everything they have .. and looking at deschutes river woods reminds them of it? and by harassing their neighbors.. you mean.. trying to make it safer for everyone?? and being involved in their community they live in and caring for their community by being proactive? if that is what you mean by Harassment then I guess I can’t help you.

      1. re re: lester aloysius dabbins.. Someone shared a legit youtube link of the whole meeting.. one lady Like I thought spoke up.. she was evacuated from pardise California a couple years ago.. listen to her story.. the part on video.. it is scary and sad. I watched the whole video and did not see any evidence of harassment in anyway shape or form.. if you truly feel harassed called 911. Don’t complain on here.. these people it seems are doing a great job!.. kudos to them.

    1. re: jjhayes99.. You accusing the residents of “not caring” and are you thinking “its too late” its never too late to prepare.. and great attitude. calling people you don’t know morons and accusing them of not caring.. How Dare you. didn’t your parents teach you .. if you don’t have anything nice to say … Don’t say it.

    1. re: 3riversg…. thank you.. its irritating seeing people leaving nasty comments.. or opinions.. and judging others and not knowing exactly what is happening.. just assuming things.. and being back seat drivers. its irritating and not nice.. I’m fed up with it.

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