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Homeless camps off China Hat Road prompt fire danger concern, call for solutions

Resident calls to resolve Bend's homeless issue with holistic approach

(Update: Adding video, comments from President of Woodside Ranch Homeowners Association Ray Miao)

BEND, Ore., (KTVZ) -- As the issue of homelessness continues to grow in Bend, residents living at the south end of Bend feel the homeless camps off China Hat Road also bring a risk that requires some solutions, sooner than later.

“We are living in the forest, so our biggest natural danger for us and for the south end of Bend is wildfire,”
Ray Miao, the president of the Woodside Ranch Homeowners Association and chair of its Fire Committee, said Thursday.

Miao lives four minutes from the homeless camps and said that with the risk of fire so close to home, there’s virtually no time to prepare, defend or evacuate.

“Especially with the winter coming now, there’s going to be more and more outdoor fires, and possibly even fires inside trailers,” Miao said.

Since there are no built fire pits like traditional campsites, and much of the homeless don’t have many resources, or even water, Maio said there’s a high risk of the fires getting out of control.

The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office said deputies respond to a lot of calls in that area, ranging from fires and domestic violence to theft.

According to the Forest Service, campers are not supposed to stay past a 14-day period.

But one homeless man, living in his camper with his dog, said the homeless population off China Hat Road is only growing.

Miao said, “We really do have to have something- a permanent place for them to live.”

“We keep treating the symptom, rather than the underlying problem. Society really has to stand up and say we are responsible for each other. We live in a community -- what will the community do?  We need to look at this holistically and say- it’s mental health, it’s transit, it’s land use development, and it’s also jobs." 

Maio also mentioned the importance of training, so people can qualify for those jobs. 

He pointed out that people become homeless for a multitude of reasons, with the pandemic being one of them. PTSD is another, and the list goes on.

“It’s going to take more than just one agency. It’s going to take a lot of manpower, a lot of money, and a lot of forethought," Miao said. "This is a long-term problem. It didn’t happen overnight. We’re not going to cure it overnight.”

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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.



  1. Also if there is a fire, there will be a lot of toxic smoke, due to all of the garbage, striped cars, ect. Keep your mask handy, Oh never mind they will not help, mask only keep out the micro particles, like COVID.

  2. Since homeless campers have been in the NFS land, 4-6 years, there has always been fire danger! Why now and in November is this just being addressed?
    Yes, enforce the 14 day rule, also that you have to move more than 2 miles each 14 days if I’m right.

        1. As a professional public servant who deals with fires I would agree with “Bendite”. I have personally been on more than a dozen fires in the past two years caused by the recklessness of the homeless population. It has drastically gotten more and more prominent in the past years. It’s only a matter of time before one of these fires gets away and wipes out a neighborhood.

          1. And remember KTVZ usually doesn’t say they were caused by transients. They often say a wildfire broke out in an area of transient camps etc. So I have been counting those as “transient” caused wildfire by means of common sense.

          1. Sometimes the cause cannot be definitively determined by police, etc. If police put out info publicly, we usually report them, as with all other media outlets. Judgment calls about. A heavily tattooed man is arrested on warrants, SO puts out a release, we didn’t do the story, other media did. Today, a burglary suspect is caught, we’ll do a brief story (as brief as the release).
            They make their calls, so do we.

        2. I said 10 to 12 because I was at 10 last count before fall
          Now we’ve had 1 or 2 more. I’m not sure. The most recent in an vacant home. KTVZZ and Central Oregon Daily.

  3. Miao’s statement was well stated. And concise at that.
    Full of wisdom and compassion.

    Nimble and entitled royalty have shown time and time again that fellow humans in need, aren’t welcome in their backyard.
    And the hateful and sour vitriolic comments of the tag team trolling show the prejudices and small minded bigotry of the county folk.

    I applaud their living space choices and the attempt at not offending by their mere presence.
    Driven off and left for abandoned in the forest, like so many unwanted step children in fairy tales. Thats out there by where the cattle mutilation happened at sand springs. Not a pleasant relaxing atmosphere I can tell you.

    Any farther out and they might have to start their own community & incorporate as a town.

  4. thought there was a ban on outdoor fires all summer.
    this is just one side effect of a potential homeless camp in bend – the fires.
    there will be fires.
    can we just all agree that is a bad/terrible idea? and move on?????

  5. Fire concerns are an issue in all aspects of society, not just homeless. Seeing the rise in homeless populations is also due to the boom in population and long-time residents of the area being forced out due to living costs. As long as we increase wages, costs increase too and we stay in this cycle. A liveable wage is needed at the lowest paid incomes, yet housing and general prices will increase with it. Unless society is completely restructured, there will be no solution.

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