In August 1996, the Skeleton Fire burned scorched 18,000 acres and 19 homes. Deputy Chief for Bend Fire and Rescue Andy Hood has been with the fire department for 34 years. He fought the Skeleton Fire 27 years ago.
“I don’t know if it’s the scariest incident I’ve been on, but it’s certainly significant and memorable in my career. What we’ve done to mitigate these from moving down range has been pretty significant, and we haven’t had one since 2002,” Hood said.
While Bend hasn’t seen a threatening fire in more than two decades, Hood says such an event could easily happen in our area under the right conditions.
Gary Marshall with the Deschutes County Rural Fire Protection District says people need to clear their properties of any flammable materials, keep it watered, and create a defensible space.
“It gives fire fighters their combat zone. That’s where they’re going to fight the fire. They’ll have one foot on your back porch, one foot in the forest. They not only want to be able to save their equipment, but they also want to make sure their personnel aren’t injured.”
Marshall and Hood ask you make sure any dry vegetation or bark chips are cleared away from your house. If you chop your own firewood, make sure those cords are at least 30 feet away from your home.
It’s also always a good idea to have an emergency to-go kit prepared. Extra water, food, any necessary medications, blankets, clothes and flashlights should be included in the kit.