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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.

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Leslie Cano

Leslie Cano is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Leslie here.

Comments

19 Comments

        1. Depends on who you ask. Certain political leaders and their followers love segregated society. It gives them opportunity to flash virtue. In their eyes, Bend community health is dependant upon a ruling class of moral superiors transfering burdens of one group onto another. A robust homeless community justifies their existence, which works to everybody’s detriment but their own, of course.

    1. You are correct. However, there are a few derelict properties in the area and the speculator investor owners don’t seem to mind. The crowd you mentioned helps drive down values in the neighborhood offering more opportunities for the speculator investors. Code enforcement should have been on these properties years ago. The owner is definitely an accessory to arson and should be held accountable.

    1. Homelessness and fire is certainly a reoccuring theme. Arson, stupidity and reckless space heating cause most of the fires. This incident I would guess is a result of the latter. What’s most interesting to me is how under Oregon law, a person who knowingly trespasses a private dwelling establishes residency and legally BECOMES the resident. The trespasser is thus shielded from criminal prosecution and is free to remain in possession of the residence barring a civil eviction –which is an arduous legal process that is both lengthy and expensive for the property owner. This legal doctrine is commonly called “squatters rights” and is one of the more unsavory hallmarks of leftist ideology.

  1. Not to worry, when our Bend City Clowncil provides more handouts for this class of losers they’ll surely go away or better themselves. Right? They are great for the community, diversity at it’s finest…

  2. Just think if this was in the middle of summer, the heat, wind, bye bye whatever part of Bend it starts in. Then there can be a bunch more “homeless”.

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