(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."