BEND, OR -- Local firefighters are already responding the types of fires typically seen during the summer, including an escaped debris burn that destroyed a La Pine home last week (pictured), a barbecue fire that damaged a Metolius-area house and a southeast Bend brush fire caused by illegal fireworks. It's not our imagination, it is early in the season for such incidents, "It seems early to us too," says Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe, "As much of the messaging that we’re getting out, people are still not taking as much care with fire as they could." He says the fires they’re responding to now are all human caused, many of them by carelessness.
Howe tells KBND News, "A few years ago, we had the Two Bulls Fire in early June, and everybody was surprised it was so early. Now, we’re a month earlier than that and we’re getting, maybe not the big fires, like that, but we’re definitely getting the fires that have the capability of escaping control." He says conditions are ripe for a tough fire season, "We had a lot of rain in April, and it was great to have it. But, it does grow a lot of fuel. And, what I think people need to understand is that ‘fuel’ is anything that can burn. And that includes trees, brush, grass, houses. And, I think a lot of people don’t realize that, to a fire, their house is just fuel." He adds, "As we get closer to summer and as the weather changes, then more things like that can actually ignite a fire."
Despite rain in the forecast for this week, Howe says those fine fuels will dry out again, as soon as the sun and wind return.