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‘Not knowing – that’s the hardest part’: Darlene Fire evacuees wait for word on their home

(Updated: adding video, comments from fire evacuees)

Lined but continues to burn SE of La Pine; 3 homes, other structures, 21 vehicles lost

LA PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Dwayne Sandobal and Karin Halstrom evacuated their home in Sun Forest Estates after the Darlene Fire broke out on their street nearby. The fire erupted Tuesday afternoon southeast of La Pine and was lined and looking better Wednesday, after having consumed three homes and numerous other structures and vehicles outside of the fire district.

The two have lived in the La Pine area for over 20 years.

"It's a matter of not knowing," Sandobal said.

"That's the hardest part," Halstrom added

On Wednesday, they were waiting at La Pine Middle School, where a temporary evacuation shelter is set up.

Sandobal and Halstrom say they've been trying to keep their mind off of it.

"I think right now, we're doing a lot of distracting. We're trying to talk to family on the phone, let them know we're okay and playing cards -- we've just been trying to keep ourselves as busy as we can," Halstrom said. "Just trying to busy ourselves with something."

As of right now, fire officials say three residences, one RV, and 11 other structures were lost yesterday to the nearly 600-acre fire. Those properties were north of Highway 31 east of Darlene way, all outside of the La Pine Fire District.

The two say they tried to take personal items that couldn't be replaced, like photographs of loved ones. Although they wait for an unsure outcome, the two are staying positive, laughing when they can. They say their mindset is to take it one hour at a time.

Here's officials' Wednesday evening update on the fire.

Firefighters continue to successfully hold the Darlene Fire within the containment lines established through yesterday and last night. The fire remains at 588 acres.

The focus of today’s efforts has been addressing spot fires and proactively reinforcing lines around the fire. Air tankers were used today on the east side of the fire to make sure that spot fires did not burn through the lines.

After assessments were made, 3 residences, 1 recreational vehicle, and 11 other structures were burned during the fire yesterday.

Many are contributing to the fighting and supporting the fire that burned on BLM Prineville District-managed lands, Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands, Deschutes National Forest lands, and lands protected by Walker Range Fire Protection District.

A Type 2 team will in-brief this evening and will take over managing the fire beginning of shift on Thursday.

Continue to monitor the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Department website for current evacuation information:

The fire was reported on Tuesday around 1:30 p.m. on BLM land about 2 miles southeast of the city off Darlene Way, fire information officer Jean Nelson-Dean said. However, fire officials say that firefighters were successful in completing a line around the fire.

The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office reported the fire, mapped overnight at 588 acres, broke out in the area between Finley Butte Road and state Highway 31, where evacuations are still in place.

Though La Pine Fire Chief Mike Supkis said initial reports show no structures were lost in the fire district, he confirmed to NewsChannel 21 that in “other areas, especially those with limited access and/or no defensible space, firefighters are finding a significant loss of homes and property,” including a preliminary count of three residential homes/cabins lost, along with two residential RVs, 12 other structures (outbuildings and shops) and 21 vehicles.

"The properties lost to the fire are all north of Highway 31 and east of Darlene Way," the fire chief added. "Part of the access problem is these properties we not in a subdivision."

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Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.


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