A Deschutes County man with a history of tangling with code enforcement officials could be forced off his land after firefighters contended with numerous explosions battling a blaze on his property this month.
Stefan Hugh Dudley is the subject of a civil complaint filed Monday by lawyers for Deschutes County alleging Dudley maintained “massive” amounts of solid waste and flammable materials on his 5-acre parcel near Alfalfa over the past six years.
The waste includes numerous inoperable vehicles, old tires, sewage, wood pallets and cases of used motor oil, according to a September letter from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
The DEQ inspected Dudley’s property at 25335 Bachelor Lane in September and determined he was in violation of several Oregon administrative rules related to the storage of solid waste and used automotive fluids, according to the letter.
The alleged hoarding culminated in a fire Jan. 5 that set off 12 explosions reported by responding firefighters with the Alfalfa Fire District.
“The conditions on the property created a dangerous situation for firefighters and made it difficult for firefighters to locate the source of the fire or to extinguish it,” the complaint states.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to Alfalfa Fire District Chief Chad LaVallee.
The explosions were caused by fuel tanks, including 5-gallon propane tanks. The initial blasts were reported by neighbors and responding firefighters witnessed several others of varying size, LaVallee said.
LaVallee’s crew arrived to venting propane tanks and fuel containers. But they were unaware of things that were buried.
The property has limited access to the rear sections. Crews tore down a section of fence to gain access to the property.
“The state of property as it stands needs to be addressed for safety issues as well as access,” LaVallee wrote to The Bulletin.
The complaint states that over the past six years code enforcement officers from Deschutes County have “regularly and repeatedly” advised Dudley to address the violations.
Among the allegations:
• For years Dudley ran an off-the-books recycling and salvage operation on the property.
• He dumped sewage on the land and allowed others who lived there to do so.
• Dudley allowed numerous people to live in recreational vehicles on the property without getting the appropriate permits and approval from the county.
Dudley has “consistently” refused to work with the county on any of the violations, the claim states.
“To the contrary, (Dudley) has allowed both the nature and severity of the violations to increase over time, and has committed additional violations,” the complaint states.
A voice message left for Dudley was not returned.
The county is seeking a court date to convince a judge to remove Dudley from the property until he gets the approval of the Oregon State Fire Marshal, DEQ and county code enforcement.