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Space heater sparks fire at NW Bend sewer station; crews stop spread, avert outage, discharge

Police work to find who picked that as sleeping spot

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – An outdoor sleeper’s propane heater sparked a fire that spread to a city sewer pump station in northwest Bend Sunday morning, but its concrete walls and fire crews’ efforts limited the damage, preventing any system outage or river discharge, a fire official said. Police were working to identify who was sleeping there.

Bend Fire & Rescue crews were dispatched at 6:40 a.m. to a reported fire at a building at Northwest Portland Avenue and Wall Street, near Pioneer Park, Deputy Fire Marshal Dan Derlacki said.

Police arrived first and found a fire burning on the building’s exterior, Derlacki said. Firefighters soon arrived were able to limit the fire’s spread to the building.

City of Bend Utility Department officials were contacted and responded to the scene, identifying the building as the West Bend Sewer Lift Station, Derlacki said. The facility pumps waste from much of Bend’s west side to the city’s treatment plant on McGrath Road.

By keeping the fire primarily contained to the building’s exterior, its operations were kept intact, he said.

“A loss of this station could have resulted in a loss of sewer capacity for a large part of town and possible discharge in the (Deschutes) River,” the fire marshal said in a news release.  “Crews are working at the facility today to ensure the fire is cleaned up and the building is kept safe.”

“The fire appears to have been caused by a propane space heater associated with an outdoor sleeping area set up by unknown persons on the back side of the building,” Derlacki wrote. “Bend PD is working to identify those associated with this setup.”

 “The heater appears to have caught combustible materials in the camp on fire and spread to the building,” he said. “Luckily, the walls of the building are concrete and thus limited the spread of fire initially.

“By the time the fire was noticed and crews arrived on scene, though, the fire had spread up to the wood framing of the roof structure,” Derlacki said. “At this time, the fire appears to have only damaged the building and all operations inside were spared any damage.”

Damage was estimated at $20,000.

Article Topic Follows: Fire

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Barney Lerten

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

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