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Bend family shaken by house fire counts blessings

By Kim Tobin
Published On: Nov 20 2012 08:51:36 PM CST

Kim Tobin spoke with a Bend family as they looked for anything that survived, after they lost their home to a raging fire.

BEND, Ore. -

A Bend family looked through the destruction left behind Tuesday after strong winds knocked a tree over, pulling a power line over and sparking a fire that destroyed their home Monday.

"Just all of a sudden you heard this huge crash, and all of the windows out in the living room were shaking," said Laurie MacWhorter.

Laurie MacWhorter and her sister Sarah MacWhorter walked searched through ash and melted metal as they look for anything that survived the fire that leveled the home off Tekampe Road, south of Bend.

"This we found in my sister's room, or what's left of my sister's room." Sarah said, holding up a small horse sculpture.

"I don't even know what to say," Laurie said. "It's been my house since I was a year old, so I don't really know anything else but this house."

Strong winds brought down a huge tree, causing it to crash into the home, and brought a power line along with it. A viewer picture showed the flames engulfing the house.

Firefighters couldn't shut off all the power to the house, and dangerous winds brought the threat of other trees falling. So officials say crews were forced to retreat because of the dangers.

"My dad and I just kind of sat in there, and my mom came, and we kind of pretty much just had to watch it," Laurie said. "I mean, it was pretty sickening, but there was nothing we could do."

A pile of trinkets were found among the damage. They were small reminders of a life they built in a home they lived in their entire lives.

"It's kind of surreal," Sarah said. "I mean, I don't know. I guess you don't realize what you have until it's gone."

The family is staying with relatives, but they do have homeowner's insurance. They are waiting for their agent to assess the damage.

"We have my grandma, so at least we don't have to completely uproot and move somewhere that's unfamiliar," Sarah said. "So it's nice to have a home we can go to since our house is completely gone."

And through it all, the women said they feel the love and support from the community. Whether it was someone dropping off supplies or a simple phone call, they said they feel the impact.

"I've just broken down so many times, because it's just really nice to know that people care, and that people are willing to help when we're in need," Laurie said.

"This is a huge tragedy for us, but with all the people that are supporting us, and backing us, it's really helping us get through this time," Sarah said.

The family set up a contribution account at the downtown branch of On Point Community Credit Union. People who wish to donate can ask for the MacWhorter account.

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