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Electrical fire destroys crematorium at Deschutes Memorial Gardens in Bend

(Update: Adding fire cause, more details, video)

Losses total $400,000; natural gas venting delayed firefighter efforts

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A fire late Friday night that destroyed the crematorium facility at Deschutes Memorial Chapel and Gardens was traced to a failed electrical panel, an fire investigator said Saturday.

Bend Fire & Rescue was dispatched around 11:25 p.m. Friday to a report of a possible brush fire in the area of Highway 97 north of Grandview and Clausen drives, Deputy Fire Marshal Cindy Kettering said.

Law enforcement who were first on scene confirmed it was instead the 1,200-square-foot metal building that was fully ablaze, Kettering said.

Since the building was fully involved when firefighters arrived, with some spread to trees and vegetation, crews staged a defensive attack, protecting exposures and keeping the fire from spreading, as well as putting out the flames in the trees and brush, she said.

Complete extinguishing of the fire was delayed because natural gas was venting from a fire-damaged gas meter and fueling the fire, Kettering said. Cascade Natural Gas arrived on scene and was able to shut off the two-inch gas line so the fire could be fully doused.

The Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal assisted in Saturday’s investigation of the fire’s cause and point of origin. Kettering said, “The fire was determined to be accidental in nature, and was caused by the failure of the main electrical panel inside the structure.”

The building was unoccupied at the time, she said, and no injuries were reported.

Losses were estimated at $125,000 to the structure and $275,000 for the contents.

The facility housed two crematorium machines, at least one of which dates back to the 1980s.

Cascade Natural Gas crews were delayed for a time, as they were on another incident in Sunriver, she said.

Kettering said in a news release, “Bend Fire & Rescue would like to remind the community to know the systems that supply their homes and businesses. Know where your electrical panels are located, keep them clear of combustibles, and know how to shut off the power if needed. Know where the gas meter is, how your gas appliances operate, and how to turn off the gas if needed.  For more safety tips on electricity and natural gas, visit Bend Fire’s website at https://www.bendoregon.gov/government/departments/fire-rescue/safety-tips-emergency-preparedness/emergency-preparedness.

Read More: Electrical fire destroys crematorium at Deschutes Memorial Gardens in Bend

2021-08-07 16:33:45

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