Last Tuesday the 9th, in the evening, I was in the kitchen doing dishes. Amanda returned from a pet sitting gig and said “Are the neighbors in back burning stuff again? There’s some smoke.” We looked outside just in time to hear a massive “whoomp!” And their garage essentially exploded.
And thus we ran around like headless chickens. We, along with probably every neighbor on the block, called 911. We evacuated our ancient cat and the dog and bird that we were boarding at our house. Various and sundry items were tossed into the car , just in case the fire climbed the fence to devour our house as well. Luckily for us the wind was blowing southward, keeping the fire away from our yard… but only just. Lots of explosions and what sounded like fireworks were going on. Explosions were things like propane tanks for camp stove. Fireworks = ammunition.
It felt like forever before the fire department arrived, but it was probably only 15-30 minutes. During that time the flames managed to climb high enough to be seen over my house from the street. Another neighbor has video that I need to get. At the time I wasn’t thinking much about documenting the scene.
These pics are from my street. I did not go to the cul-de-sac where the burning house was – they’d roped it all off.
They put the fire out quickly, though disconcertingly they left a bit of the roof burning for quite awhile.
Because it’s Oregon, and because it’s the east side of Bend, the talk inevitably turned to meth. I tried to give the neighbors the benefit of the doubt. Besides, the house didn’t seem to get kind of traffic you’d expect a meth lab to have. Investigators pored through the place for the next 24 hours and came to the conclusion that it was a carelessly discarded cigarette. Basically the guy had flipped a burning butt into a can of butts in the garage and left. A half hour later the neighborhood was in jeopardy.
We spent the night in a hotel, as our house smelled terrible. The folks who installed our heat pump loaned us a big air filter that we ran all week and it made a huge difference. Other than the house in question the damage seems thankfully limited to the house next door to it, which had their fence burn down, what looks to be some siding damage, and their windows melted(!), and most of the surrounding houses suffered from smell and soot and ash.
Riley, and the rest of the neighborhood kids too, was quite shook up by the whole experience. One little girl was in my house crying. On the plus side, we met a lot of neighbors. Nothing like a house fire to bring a community together!
The next morning we came home from the hotel and I did my best to work and try to feel normal. It wasn’t easy. Thankfully we had/have our never ending painting project to force us to focus. Indeed it has.