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Squirrel on power lines sparks Bend brushfire

By Kandra Kent
Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:07:28 AM CST
Updated On: Sep 22 2013 10:46:47 PM CDT
Hwy. 97 brushfire Josh Chavarria

Josh Chavarria

Bend fire officials say electrocuted squirrel sparked brushfire along Hwy. 97 on city's south end on Sunday

BEND, Ore. -

A small brushfire along Highway 97 in southern Bend on Sunday was traced to a squirrel that apparently touched two power lines and was electrocuted -- the second such incident in Bend in the past two weeks, officials said.

Firefighters responded around noon to the reported brushfire along the highway  near Romaine Village Way, said Battalion Chief Dave Howe.

Arriving crews found a grove of trees on fire and a power pole also involved, Howe said..

There were no power outages reported in the area, but the southbound highway was closed for about 20 minutes “so the crews could work in a safe environment,” Howe said in a later news release.

Although the fire was much less than an acre, fire officials said windy conditions and a close proximity to travel trailers prompted several agencies to respond.

Four Bend fire engine companies, assisted by Oregon Department of Forestry and Forest Service crews, had the blaze knocked down quickly.

One nearby camping trailer in an adjoining trailer storage lot was slightly damaged.

"Just some melted light lenses," Howe said.  "But we also had damage to one power pole, and possibly another power pole. So you know, even in a small fire, you can have a significant amount of damage."

Though this outage was not weather-related, winds were gusting to 30 mph in Bend on Sunday. Howe reminded residents that any type of open burning in such windy conditions poses a danger, especially when fuels remain dry. He also noted that open debris burning is prohibited inside Bend’s city limits. Updated burning status and info is available at (541) 322-6335.

On Sunday, Sept. 8, another squirrel's demise (after picking a bad spot to perch) sparked a small brushfire near the Athletic Club of Bend that knocked out power to hundreds of residents on Bend's Westside for up to four hours.

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