Lightning Strike Damages Car in Bend

Lightning struck a parked car in south Bend Friday night, shattering the windshield and igniting the interior.

Deputy Fire Marshal  Susie Maniscalco said in a release that crews were called to a car on fire outside a house at 19601 Hollygrape St. about 5:45 p.m.

A neighbor heard a car alarm sounding and discovered the hole in the car’s windshield and a fire inside.

The fire department determined the lightning struck the front windshield and its energy traveled down into the dashboard causing the window to shatter.  The airbag deployed and due to temperatures generated by the electrical discharge, it began to burn, Maniscalco said.

The car was unoccupied and the owners were out of town. The fire caused about $7,000 in damage to the car.

The strike was part of another round of severe storms that rolled through the area Friday evening causing heavy rain, high winds, hail and abundant lightning.

Severe weather battered the area on Thursday night as well, causing hazardous flash flooding in Powell Butte.

Lightning image courtesy Colette Schuchardt

Creating a Defensible Space

Fire and emergency management teams are asking that residents begin protecting their homes from potential disaster during wildfire season. Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan met with members of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Oregon, the Bend Fire Department and Project Wildfire for an in-depth look at how you can create defensible spaces around your home to protect it and your family from wildfire.

Swift Water Rescue

Residents and tourists alike are beating the heat this summer by hitting the many rivers and lakes that Central Oregon has to offer. While a river float is a great way to cool off this summer, it does come with potential hazards. The increased traffic on local rivers is why Bend Fire and Rescue holds swift water rescue trainings several times throughout the year beginning in early spring and continuing throughout the summer.

The 14-member rescue team specializes in class three, four and five whitewater, which include rapids and strong currents that make it more difficult for people to self-rescue. The team runs four to five practice sessions a year to prepare for any potential rescue situations.

Mike Baxter of Bend Fire Rescue said that whole summers have passed where no rescues are necessary but between Bend Fire and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s search and rescue team they’ve already performed between 3 and 5 assists across Central Oregon this year.

Just last week the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and Bend Fire Department pulled a 13-year-old boy to safety at Lava Island Falls after the teenager became stranded on a rocky island in the middle of the Deschutes River south of bend and was surrounded by class five whitewater rapids.

When initiating a rescue the team will begin with the lowest risk option for both the rescuer and the victim. So each year they practice several different rescue techniques. One technique, which was used to rescue the teenage last week, involves a tether system and a raft. Another, which was tested out during Tuesday’s training on Central Oregon Daily’s own Anyssa Bohanan, involves a 75 foot long rope and a member of the rescue team.

Anyssa can attest that should the worst happen and you do need rescuing, you’re in solid hands. However, the best way to stay safe and have a good time is to be prepared and be aware.

First Responders Head to Heat Related Incidents

In the peak of summer Bend Fire and Rescue responds to far more than just calls to battle blazes. July has seen 41 heat records set across the United States with zero record minimums. The next two days in Central Oregon are also expected to be the hottest recorded this week, which means responding to more calls to those suffering from this summer’s high temperatures.

Jon Erickson of Bend Fire said he has responded to over a dozen heat related incidents in the past week, many of the calls are for those who are frequently exposed to the elements.

Even those who are relatively healthy have suffered in recent weeks during what’s being recorded as the fourth hottest year on record. Hundreds of wildfires have been triggered in Oregon alone, dozens have been killed across the western hemisphere, and the heat is expected to continue.

Erickson says the best way to avoid being affected by the heat is to simply stay inside but if you’re going to be outside, staying hydrated is your best bet to staying healthy.

Arrests Made in Pilot Butte Fire

Fourth of July festivities were put on hold late Wednesday afternoon after a fire broke out on the base of Pilot Butte in Bend. On Thursday Bend Police arrested two men accused of the starting the fire that burned ten acres and threatened nearby homes.

The two suspects are currently facing charges of criminal mischief in the first degree, reckless burning and possible arson charges related to the blaze.

Around 4:50 p.m. on Wednesday a small fire, allegedly sparked by fire works, quickly escalated into a full on inferno and fire crews were quickly called in to handle the blaze that was propelled through the grass by strong winds.

The fire prompted evacuations of two nearby apartment complexes and shut down Highway 20 in both directions. The fire also lead to a power outage that left roughly 27,000 Bend residents without power for hours.

On Wednesday night Highway 20 was reopened, power was back on and Bend’s fireworks show went on as planned. However, the Pilot Butte park access road and trail head will be closed for two days and firefighter continue to put out hot spots in order to avoid another fire from flaring up.

Remembering Rhett Larsen

Bend Fire Celebrates the Life of One of Their Own

It was a sign of respect for one of their own as Bend Fire Department vehicles traveled down Highway 97, escorting the body of fellow firefighter Rhett Larsen, who died in a motorcycle accident on Saturday.

39-year-old Larsen was returning from Portland when a bear ran out in front of his motorcycle. Larsen collided with the bear and was thrown into on coming traffic. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan has more on the life and legacy of Larsen and how the community is already stepping up to help.

Threat Prompts Precautions at St. Charles

Officials Increase Security After Threat From ER Patient

There was an increase of security patrols at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend on Thursday due to a threat made about a month ago by a patient in the ER. St. Charles safety department and police interviewed the man who made the threat for March 8th. They did not believe the person posed any risks, but he does have a 60-day no trespass order.

However, with security and hospital staff on high alert, a staff member did report a suspicious package at a bus stop outside of the hospital. The box was checked out by security staff and turned out to be a thermometer for concrete that was being poured as part of an ongoing construction project.

There was also a small dumpster fire reported at the hospital on Thursday, but according to St. Charles staff, that was put out within about ten minutes. Bend Fire happened to be at the hospital for unrelated reasons, which allowed to respond within minutes.