Fire season is here in the High Desert as things are drying up everywhere. That includes vegetation lining local train tracks around Bend that’s becoming kindling as the summer progresses.
“Well, I was here on my couch and I heard sirens,” said Javier Arellan, a Bend resident.
Arellan walked outside Monday to see four fire trucks and smoke near his neighbors’ backyard.
The fire, started by sparks off a passing train, caused around $500 worth of damage.
“It was a small brush fire along the railroad tracks,” said Dan Derlaki, the Public Information Officer for Bend Fire and Rescue. “It was in the brush and the brush continued right up to the house.”
“I’m just glad my neighbors are OK,” Arellan said.
Those neighbors declined to comment.
This isn’t the first time a fire has started in this area. The reason: vegetation lining the tracks.
“This time of year especially it’s pretty concerning,” said Taylor Deman, another neighbor.
Deman says the vegetation is not on his property, but he tries to maintain it to prevent fires.
“I mean, even just a few months ago there was another fire on the other side of the train tracks next to the storage unit,” Deman said.
That fire, Deman says, was human caused, but got out of hand due to the brush.
“You as a property owner or you as a resident of the property there is an ordinance that says you need to take care of the brush on your property,” Derlaki said.
And if the land is not your property?
“Call the city or call the fire department,” Derlaki said “We can help you find out who it is and help guide them to ensure they’re doing the same thing on their property.”
It could be owned by BNSF, the City of Bend or the Oregon Department of Transportation like the land next to Deman’s backyard.
“We’ve already got back correspondence,” Deman said “They said that they would be out here to evaluate and be here to clean some of the brush.”
In the meantime, neighbors are keeping a look out for more fires.
“We’re always watching,” Arellan said “We see some smoke and call it right away.”
“We take a few extra passes with the weed whacker and the mower to clear some of their stuff,” Deman said.
According to Bend Fire, homeowners should be proactive about their own land and create a 20-30 foot gap between them and the brush near the tracks.