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Escaped La Pine debris burn threatens homes, prompts alerts

La Pine Bridge Drive brushfire DCSO 229-2
Deschutes County Sheriff's Office
Brush fire brought numerous crews to area of Bridge Drive in La Pine Saturday afternoon

(Update: Details from La Pine Fire captain)

La PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- An escaped debris burn, fanned by gusty winds, jumped the Little Deschutes River late Saturday afternoon, got to within about 20 yards of two La Pine homes and prompted alert calls to residents and the precautionary call-out of a regional structural protection task force, an official said.

La Pine Rural Fire District Captain Gary Young said the fire in the 53000 block of Bridge Drive was reported around 3:25 p.m. and was fueled by dry, flash fuels, including dried, dead cheatgrass that "burns year round" and groups of willows that have "tons of oil in them. Theyl'll take off any time of year."

Westerly winds of 20 mph, gusting to about 25 mph, pushed the flames to the east, jumping the Little Deschutes and moving toward a row of homes on Riverview Drive, Young said. That's where the first elements of the structural protection task force were staged.

There were no actual evacuations, he said, but the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office used its emergency phone network to call 117 residents within a one-mile radius of the fire, advising to be ready to leave if necessary.

The task force was called up "proactively," Young said, because "I didn't know what the wind was going to do." Sunriver and Bend crews were on hand, but "luckily, the wind did calm down a little bit later into the incident. Then we got a handle on it."

Young said the Oregon Department of Forestry and some crews from the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center also were called in, to help investigate the fire.

The fire "wasn't racing," he said, but the light, flashy fuels and dried, dead grasses kept it on the move. "Had we had no wind, it would have been just a small, creeping fire."

Young said it's fairly common to call up a task force early on, due to the travek distances involved, then stand them down if things improve.

"It's better to be safe than sorry," he said.

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Barney Lerten

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



  1. Why did you print the story about the courts overturning part of Trumps immigration “Return to mexico” plan…but not the story that it was overturned hours later and now upheld…immigrants wait in mexico. BUT….BUT…in response to the court ruling yesterday, the cubans bum rush the bridge in El Paso and our Border Patrol kitted up?….gonna try to tell us the brush fire occupied your time?

        1. And when we get stories about his victories in the courts, those are here too. We had both in just the past few days. But bottom line – between moderating this crowd and reporting/writing local news, we don’t write national news stories.

          1. Sic’em, Barney! You are doing a great job, especially considering some of the “people” who need moderating. If they don’t like it here, go elsewhere to rant.

            1. Thanks. Not trying to ‘sic’ bghw or anyone, just weary of the false claims and personal attacks that hit so close to home. Since we must allow such, I encourage people to defend themselves and their viewpoints. I sometimes wish we could have firmer and more enforceable rules, like most Reddit subs, but they have fleets of volunteer (!) moderators, and can have firmer rules than a small-market TV news station that must try to err on the side of freedom of speech, despite the inevitable heartburn.

    1. lets try to stay on topic DT’s, its the weekend at a small local station. lots of places to get national and world news on tv and online. why don’t you try the local station of where you came from for the latest national news and give Barney a break. in central Oregon we’ve always accepted the fact everyone is entitled to have a life, no matter how bad we want to post a local comment on a national story

      1. My family has been in the Sisters Country and Deschutes/Grant counties since 1877. Look up Tabitha Brown if you wanna go further back than 1877. Know who she was? Barney does…here’s a hint, she was recognized by State Legislature as “The Mother of Oregon” in 1987 …so try again Les. If you choose to put your head in the sand and not call out the media, then by all means…don’t….but you don’t get to tell me to lay off. Nobody holds these people accountable for jack squat

        1. Nobody cares how long your family has been here. I’m sure they were probably writing equally incoherent letters to the editor back in their day. Doubtless a family tradition.

    2. Well I for one certainly appreciate a local media reporter working on a story that’s 20 miles away rather than one that’s thousands of miles away.

      1. Like THAT”S gonna happen. These reporters ONLY ask what they’re told to ask, and sure in the heck aren’t gonna corner any hot bed topic or hold anyone’s feet to the fire

  2. where’s the half pack of PBR? if you have lawn chairs and flame throwers but no water source you might be doing fuels reductions all wrong. the neighborhood does look nice though.

  3. It was surprising that the Bend Fire burning call in allowed burning yesterday with the wind. I cannot verify what La Pine’s call in said. It seems that there were a lot of fire department calls in Central Oregon for vegetation fires.

    1. The Feds, Oregon Department of Forestry, Weyerhauser, Lone Rock Timber, and several others. Remember last year when the state lit the piles on the windy day in the valley in several areas and burned up several thousand acres all over? They do WAAAAAAAY more damage than us commoners

      1. You don’t really understand pile burning or prescribed fire, but then again not understanding a subject hasn’t stopped you from commenting yet. You are OG Oregonian, that carries a lot of weight with folks. /S Seriously though, if a local news agency in your opinion doesn’t carry the “right” news stories…. and it triggers you, maybe you should find a news source that only carries stories you think are “correct”. I think there is a channel out there like that just made for folks like you.

        1. Dr Quest- Race Bannon here ! I’d like to talk to you a bit about this comment-

          “maybe you should find a news source that only carries stories you think are “correct”.

          Over the years I’ve had to laugh a bit as I’ve watched you pointy headed liberals become more and more 1960’s conservative than our good friend Merle Haggard !

          Your love it or leave it comments are straight out of the following:

          “They’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me
          Runnin’ down a way of life
          Our fightin’ men have fought and died to keep
          If you don’t love it, leave it
          Let this song that I’m singin’ be a warnin’
          When you’re runnin’ down our country, hoss
          You’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me”

          Think about that the next time you suggest that someone either accept that what’s being peddled their way- or leave.

          Pure Merle- Pure Conservative- Pure hope for liberal change !

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