Burning squirrel sparks brush fire

Published Sep 23, 2013 at 05:00AM

A squirrel caused a small brush fire Sunday south of Bend, the second squirrel in two weeks to spark such a blaze here.

The woodland creature touched a pair of power lines Sunday along U.S. Highway 97, creating a short circuit that electrocuted and ignited the animal, said Dave Howe, battalion chief with the Bend Fire Department. The burning squirrel fell to the ground and started the fire.

Firefighters from the fire department, as well as the U.S. Forest Service and the Oregon Department of Forestry, responded to the fire at noon Sunday and kept it to a small grove of trees, Howe said. The fire caused a brief closure of the highway, scorched a power pole and caused about $50 in damage to a nearby travel trailer.

On Sept. 9, a squirrel atop a power pole near the Athletic Club of Bend also contacted live wires and started a small brush fire, leaving more than 100 homes in southwest Bend without electricity for around four hours.

The fire midday Sunday only left one Pacific Power customer without power, said Tom Gauntt, a spokesman for the company. The customer’s power was back on around 4:30 p.m.

— Bulletin staff report