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Bend firefighters, challenged by tough access, put out brush fire in Deschutes River Canyon

Deschutes River Canyon fire drone Bend PD 524
Bend Police Department
A fire in the Deschutes River Canyon on Monday evening was difficult to reach, as Bend Police drone image shows
Deschutes River Canyon fire site Bend FR 524
Bend Fire & Rescue
Fire broke out in area with signs of an abandoned campsite

(Update: Adding resident's comment)

Broke out in area of apparently abandoned homeless campsite

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Bend firefighters, challenged by steep terrain and difficult access, put out a small brush fire Monday evening in the area of an abandoned homeless camp on the west side of the Deschutes River Canyon, an official said.

The fire was reported around 6:20 p.m. just south of a footbridge crossing the river, below homes in the 29000 block of Sunshine Way that sit along the canyon rim, Deputy Fire Marshal Susie Maniscalco said.

The fire burned an area about 50-by-50 feet before a containment line was in place around it, followed by mop-up efforts, Maniscalco said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation, but the location “appeared to be an abandoned campsite,” she said. “There were remnants of what you typically find at homeless camps – clothing, camp stoves.”

To reach the fire, crews used a Central Oregon Irrigation District road off Brookswood Boulevard and crossed the footbridge.

Fortunately, Maniscalco said, the area of scattered Ponderosas and junipers was “really moist” from the recent rainfall.

Also, she said, it burned in an area with “a lot of rock outcropping. Luckily, there was a pretty good fuel break between where the camp was located and the homes on the ridge …. Not a lot of fuel between that and the top of the ridge, or it could have been much worse.”

Matt Shea, a resident in that area who joined others watching the firefighting effort, said they have complained about previous fires at the camps, but nothing has been done.

"This transient problem has gone far enough," he said. "Our public servants need to do something to protect us. Next time, we might not be so lucky, where numerous homes burn down and someone dies."

Bend / Central Oregon / Fire / Local News / Marketplace / News / Top Stories

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.



  1. Area of a bunch of rich people? Maybe nothing city will act. How many of these people voted for the compassionate city council?

    Hey they got the government they voted for.

    Still the city won’t act until money or their election is at risk. This might get them off their butts.

    If the city council fails to act on these camps and there is a destructive fire it is 100% on them.

    They have been given a way out…fire danger is just too high to ignore these camps.

    I hope they act before there is a serious crisis.

    1. “Area of a bunch of rich people.”? How judgmental and ignorant of you. I live in here and what I paid for my home was far less than a “rich” person. Most of my neighbors have lived in here way longer, old Bend families like myself and paid far far less than that. Bend was once affordable you know, and many of us chose this sub because it is the best in town to raise a family. Quit judging, it doesn’t behoove any of us.

      1. I doubt there’s a home in Sunrise Village worth less than a million. By the definition of many, that means you are a millionaire, therefore rich, therefore worthy of disdain.

        I don’t agree, but there are plenty of people, including a couple of millionaires on the city council who hate themselves for their wealth.

        All I can say is that with that kind of wealth comes the privilege of power, power to sway the council perhaps? The poor apartment dwellers along the COID canal, or the folks on the North end near Juniper ridge don’t have that power. You do, use it to make the council pay attention. This fire should be a wake up call for them. Don’t let it be a missed opportunity.

        1. Your logic is very askew. First, there are many homes in here worthless than 1 mil, all you have to do is look at something like Zillow to see there is one for sale right now for $875, and there are plenty smaller than it. Second, because you have a home that is worth a million by no means equates with being a millionaire. Every person I know up here has a mortgage bud, so if you sell, you pay the bank first and get what’s left. Unless you have lived in here for over 20 years and have a large home, they are not millionaires. Your ideas of wealth are misplaced. Voices are heard by multiplication, not just money. And who’s to say anything about your judgement of the “poor” residents along the canal? Why do you pity them? I lived in an apartment up on Roanoke back in the early 90’s. That was a great place to help me decide I wanted more and better and served as motivation to do well for myself. Would you have pitied me then but not now?

  2. It was not an ‘abandoned’ homeless site, or there would have been nobody to start a fire. That’s like saying a house fire occurred in an abandoned residence, because they ran out when the fire started. Mr. Shea should be the spokesman for the people he is so articulate.

    1. Your city council will defend them as poor misunderstood souls. We can’t understand from our place of privilege.

      If they take out a few expensive houses, it’s okay, they are not responsible for their own actions.

    2. I’m guessing you’re of the belief that because a lot of these people have mental problems means they don’t deserve to live anywhere or something?

      Nobody can defend this behavior. It’s criminal to start a fire.

      But you’re the one that seems to think whenever an event like this happens, that means somehow you need to make all the homeless people disappear.

      1. False. Don’t make assumptions. It makes an…well, you know the rest.

        It’s criminal to start a fire? There are lots of criminal acts that the police ignore, and if they don’t the DA doesn’t prosecute.

        Does that make them less bad? No. My point is that the city council will do nothing unless their job or reputation is at risk.

  3. Lucky the weather was cool and wet-the potential exists for a catastrophic fire event in that area. When is enough, enough? Time to act city of bend and property owners. Get em out of there.

  4. Mr. Shea makes a great point that we should all consider, especially when our city leaders are considering allowing Safe Parking initiatives. The liability of continuing to pander to homeless advocates and rhetoric coming from online shamers will fall on our city managers if they don’t take a quick and hard stand against camp living. Time to put up more shelter and require camps to shut down.

  5. The city council will sound exactly like my young child when a fire set by bums in the forest burns out a section or the whole city…..they will shrug and say they had no idea how this happened.
    These are the same folks who will happily send the FD to cite a resident for burning a few leaves in a controlled environment.
    This is like watching a train wreck in slo-motion, we know how it will end up but must endure the whole event, every frame.

  6. Tough access? Lol. There is a road system 60 yards up the hill.

    Most hose is a 100 foot. 1 engine and 4 guys on this for 30 minutes and it’s done.

    Barely an hours work.

    And the “camp” was abandoned. It’s too steep to live on.. probably one of the ignorant rich yuppies did something stupid.

    1. Where? I live up here and there is no access on this side even remotely close to get n engine near there. That’s why they had to go off Brookswood and drive down that access road and carry hoses over the foot bridge. Why do you feel the need to talk out loud and say nothing?

      1. 500 bucks says you wouldn’t say that to my face.. secondly I’m a wildland firefighter that works harder in one day than you do in a week. Useless non contributing chump. You have ZERO life. That’s why you and the rest of these losers are on here EVERY day talking smack…. Hahaha… Losers..

        And You CAN get a tender up there. You rich snobs are just too stupid to figure out how. Even IF you couldn’t a small hand crew with Bladder bags could have put this out.

  7. I didn’t vote for the current city council, but I am unaware of how much control they have over a specific incident like this. An event like this could even be used to support a city sanctioned homeless camp with garbage service and toilets in someone’s back yard. The fact is we do have a homeless problem and I don’t believe there is enough compassion in the world to eradicate homelessness, especially if the compassion is combined with loads of money: it’s easier to spend enormous amounts of money with good intentions and get very little in return versus spend money judiciously with improved outcomes. Nonetheless, the homeless are here. How much money is being spent per person in terms of welfare, healthcare, police/judicial services, mental health etc.? Once we get an idea of how much money we are spending, what are the list of options or ideas that we could spend the same or less differently to minimize the costs mentioned above? I’m up for some small scale experimentation as long as the important metrics are being tracked to prove things are improving.

    1. Yup. Too bad there isn’t a magical balance between providing an incentive to work and develop a sense of responsibility, and providing basic support for those truly in need. I also support the city and county in becoming more involved in determining the root causes of homelessness and providing more resources for reducing it.

    2. You sound way to bright and reasonable to be posting on this forum. New to town? Keep a stiff upper lip, these ankle biters can be brutal in here.

  8. Timeless old story – 90% of the problems caused by 10% of the population – Wait till the 10% becomes 20% – Solution – Consequences for actions – not just a slap, make-em pay!

  9. I can’t believe you led with a chicken wing story and just left this story with no further investigation or interviews. What are you afraid to find out? The media has to tell the stories that are important to locals and that make a difference in their lives. What is the city doing? What can we legally do to close down and what is the plan to do so? We can’t have camps continuing to pop up all over town!

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