LA PINE, OR -- Investigators believe the first local wildfire of the season was caused by a backyard debris burn that got out of control. Jae Bevel and his family lived down the street from where the blaze started, but it was their home that was destroyed by the 12-acre Bridge Drive Fire. "I was at work, heard some sirens and then a co-worker had to go online to see what all the fuss was about. He’s like, ‘Hey. Don’t you live in Lazy River South?’ I was like, ‘Yeah.’ He was like, ‘Well, there’s a fire on Loop Drive.’ I was like, 'Well, I live on Loop Drive'," He quickly told his co-worker, "I gotta go."
Bevel says because it was early release, both of his sons – ages six and 13 – were home at the time. In a panic, he connected with deputies managing the evacuation in his neighborhood, "I tried to locate my son; it took forever to get him located. One of them [a deputy] drove me out to the house and, still I didn’t know where my son was or our little dog. I was pretty irate, and I saw the house and it was gone. There’s nothing there." When he was finally reunited with his boys, he realized how lucky they were to be unharmed, "It went from like 1/3 acre to Stage Three evacuation in like 30 minutes. It was moving pretty fast. Junior said when he got home, there was a lot of smoke; it was really dark, so they went inside. It was about an hour or so later when they got a knock on the door." That knock came from officials checking to make sure everyone had evacuated. Bevel says the boys didn't know what was going on, but saw flames moving in to the backyard, and they got out fast, "The kids said that when they ran out of the house, they didn’t even bother with the door because, I guess, the flames were engulfing the backyard. It was just so much fire. I couldn’t imagine their state of mind at the time." Unfortunately, in their panic, they weren't able to grab their puppy, Lucy. Bevel believes she died in the blaze.
He tells KBND News he went back to the house Wednesday night, once evacuation orders were lifted, "They were still mopping up little spot fires here and there and there’s nothing. Our boat’s gone. We had a Ford Explorer, that’s gone; all the bikes." Bevel says he's now trying to assess their situation, "I went to Dollar General and got four toothbrushes, a tube of toothpaste and a few packs of socks. Ya know? It’s like, those were my first go-to’s. I don’t even know where to start. I’ve never lost everything I’ve ever owned."
Bevel and his family had just moved in to the home last fall and did not have renters’ insurance. They’re now staying with family in Crescent. A Go Fund Me account has been set up to help get them back on their feet.