BEND, OR -- Bend Fire says Wednesday's Pilot Butte fire, and the large number of smaller fires reported in the past week, serve as a reminder of just how dry and dangerous are the conditions across Central Oregon.
Deputy Fire Marshall Cindy Kettering says the Fourth of July was extremely busy, "On a normal day, we run between 20 and 30 calls. [Wednesday] we ran 62; significantly above our normal call volume." Bend Police Lt. Clint Burleigh says many of those calls were for illegal fireworks, or the unsafe use of legal fireworks, "We Responded to several fires with Bend Fire and Rescue that were fairly big. As a community, I think, that we realize that those aerial fireworks are becoming very dangerous." Fourteen of Wednesday's calls were brush fires, several were fire alarms due to the power outage caused by the Pilot Butte fire, three fire calls involved structures, and one was a utility trailer fire. In Redmond, police say they responded to 50 calls regarding illegal fireworks on the Fourth, including one where an intoxicated man allegedly lit an illegal firework in front of an officer.
A Red Flag warning has been extended through 9 p.m. Friday, due to increasing winds, low humidity, and the high risk of fire. Kettering tells KBND News, "People may still be looking to celebrate and light fireworks, so we would really encourage people to be cautious."