A fire in Pilot Butte State Park caused numerous power outages and prompted evacuations Wednesday as Bend surged with Fourth of July revelers.
The blaze, which started at about 4:49 p.m. at the southeast corner of Pilot Butte, led officials to close a section of U.S.Highway 20 from Azure Drive to 15th Street and evacuate an apartment complex east of the butte. It was contained to about 8 acres between Highway 20 and the road leading to the top of Pilot Butte.
“We have people all the way around it,” said Dave Howe, spokesman for Bend Fire and Rescue.
Flames jumped the highway in places, aided by extremely high winds and dry conditions. They reached two high-tension power lines, affecting three substations.
“The wind is howling out here; it is really blowing,” Howe said. “These are the perfect conditions for something like this to happen.”
At one point, Pacific Power’s online outage map reported 28 separate outages affecting nearly 27,000 customers.
Power began returning to customers at about 6:10 p.m. and had returned to all customers by 6:45 p.m.
“Power is now completely back up to everybody,” said Tom Gauntt, spokesman for Pacific Power.
The apartment complex closest to the fire, The Outlook at Pilot Butte, at 2001 Linnea Court, had to be evacuated by Bend Police. No damage was done to the buildings, and the residents have since been allowed to return.
The Bend Fire Department had three engines on scene and two command vehicles. It was aided by five engines with the U.S. Forest Service and the Oregon Department of Forestry, as well as three five-person hand crews.
The fire is believed to have been caused by fireworks, but not the city’s official fireworks demonstration, according to Lt. Clint Burleigh of Bend Police.
The department received a call related to small fireworks around the time the fire started, he said.
The evening’s fireworks show went on as planned.
— Reporter: 541-383-0325, email@example.com