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‘Got to overcome’: Motor home fire off China Hat Road leaves owner seeking some help

'I don't like to ask things from people ... I like to be able to take care of myself'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- It only took 15 minutes for flames to take everything away from Robert Sanders.

Sanders has lived in a motor home off China Hat Road south of Bend for the last two years.

Last week, he came home and started the generator, as he always does. He ran to get some gas -- and returned to find his home up in flames.

"I lost everything -- everything," Sanders told NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday. "I literally have the clothes on my back, and that's it."

The cause of the Jan. 3 fire is still unknown, and it didn't spread due to the snow creating a barrier.

"Two years of hard work gone, in 15 minutes," he said.

Sanders makes jewelry and sells it in downtown Bend. All of his supplies were lost in the fire.

"It's kind of hard to make money when you don't have anything," he said. "It's just a struggle."

Sanders does have insurance, but not enough to cover all of what he lost.

He says out of everything that's gone, the hardest thing to make peace with is not something that's tangible.

"Just losing the ability to take care of myself. I don't like to ask for things from people -- you know what I mean?" Sanders said, tears coming. "I like to be able to take care of myself."

"And I lost that ability."

But Central Oregonians have been stepping up to help, offering clothes, flood, and blankets through Bend's Pay It Forward Facebook page.

"It's tremendous, you know what I mean?" he said with gratitude. "To have people in the community that want to help."

While Sanders searches for his next home, the American Red Cross put up him and his dog in a motel.

"Just got to keep the faith," he said. "Not let things like this tear you down, and you know -- got to overcome."

Here's Sander's GoFundMe page.

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Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.



    1. If he hadn’t broken the law and been a squatter overstaying his 14day camping limit on our public land.And the fact that most of the roads off of china hat are closed due to travel management.And dispersed camping is only allowed in historical camps.Which there are none in that area.He wouldn’t be in this situation.

    1. Good question. And what did he do with the grey and black water? Dump it on the ground or did he drive in to town weekly to a dump station to get rid of it along with the regular trash? I feel sorry for the guy, but I also feel sorry for all of the local residents who cannot safely go out China Hat road to enjoy our public lands in this area any more. This is also a good example of why there has been such a concern about human caused wildfires impacting the neighborhoods that border these public lands. I suggest folks take a drive down China Hat road and see first hand the situation.

  1. I’m surprised he had insurance. Most companies want to know that a local FD is available for an emergency. Also, being parked on public land and probably never inspected.

  2. Not to worry, the liberal government have taken the appropriate action, and have done created many a tax, that will provide for all of this now “HOMELESS” persons problems, they have the funding to provide this person, all he has to do is fill out the right paperwork, and they will have this guy back to just being “HOUSELESS” in no time. Buck up fella, the liberal Calvary is on their way.

  3. Thankful for the snow. Otherwise, we could have had a couple of neighborhoods at risk. I wonder if the generator was running when he “ran” to get gas? Glad to dog survived.

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