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Investigators say fire in vacant SE Bend home used by ‘squatters’ was arson

(Update: Investigators say fire was intentionally set)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A fire that destroyed a vacant southeast Bend home frequented by “squatters” and due to be torn down was heavily damaged in a fire Tuesday that investigators said Wednesday has been determined to be arson.

Bend Fire & Rescue was dispatched shortly before 11 a.m. to the reported structure fire in the area of Southeast Second Street and Davis Avenue, Deputy Fire Marshal Cindy Kettering said.

“The structure was an abandoned building that had been vandalized and had a history of repeated trespassers,” Kettering said, and “was scheduled to be demolished.”

The value was estimated at $75,000, with a loss estimated at $50,000.

Bend Fire conducted an investigation, assisted by the Office of State Fire Marshal and Bend Police, “and the fire was found to have been intentionally set,” Kettering said.

The investigation is continuing. Anyone with information was asked to contact Deschutes County’s non-emergency dispatch line at 541-693-6911.

Earlier story:

BEND, Ore (KTVZ) -- Bend Fire and Rescue crews battled a stubborn fire on the upper floor and attic of a vacant southeast Bend home Tuesday morning. Authorities and neighbors noted ample evidence that transients had been staying in the home.

Firefighters were called to the fire at Southeast Davis Avenue and Second Street shortly before 11 a.m.

“All of a sudden, I turn around and there’s just huge black smoke coming out of the abandoned house across the street,” said Wade Fagen, president of Fagen Trees and Chips.

Fagen said he heard loud popping noises near his business, and when he ran over to investigate, he saw the nearby home on fire.

“It was instant! You know, one minute I looked over there and nothing -- and the next minute, you turn around and flames are just billowing out from the top of the house,” Fagen said.

The home was unoccupied at the time the fire broke out, but Fagen has witnessed people staying in the home, although he said no one has lived there permanently for nearly a year.

“The (security) cameras have caught several people meandering around my yard, in the shop and I’ve been worried. I’m a Bend native and we never had problems like that before,” Fagen said of the possibility of squatters staying in the home.

Deputy Fire Marshall Cindy Kettering said items were found belonging to possible squatters. She said they called in a ladder truck from Sunriver to assist in putting out the fire, as Bend's was out of service for mechanical issues.

The gusty winds also concerned crews battling the fire.

“This is a neighborhood that has a lot of nearby buildings. We do have a strong wind, today so preventing that fire from spreading to other businesses was a priority,” Kettering said on the scene.

Kettering said damage to the home was significant, and officials have secured and deemed the building unsafe to occupy. Second Street was closed until mid-afternoon for firefighting operations.

“My understanding is that the home was not in the best of shape to begin with, so the fire damage has only increased that,” Kettering said.

Article Topic Follows: Crime And Courts

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Leslie Cano

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