Reward increased to $36,825 in wildfire near Bend

Reward increased to $36,825 in wildfire near Bend
A helicopter drops water on a hot spot. (Photo by City of Bend via Twitter)

BEND, Ore. (AP) — Officials increased the reward for information about who's responsible for a 10-square-mile, human-caused wildfire near Bend after a suspicious blaze broke out nearby Tuesday in an area closed to the public.

The reward is now $36,825 for any information leading to a conviction.

"Given the fact this latest fire is suspicious and human-caused, we need the persons responsible located and held accountable," Blanton said in a statement. "Our community has endured trauma as a result of this fire and the taxpayers have been burdened by its cost."

He said he hopes the reward prompts those with information to come forward.

The Two Bulls Fire was 40 percent contained Wednesday after burning through brush and forest on the western outskirts of Bend, a popular outdoor recreation destination in central Oregon. Fire investigators have said it was human-caused. The last evacuation order affecting 50 homes was lifted Tuesday evening, and the cost of fighting the fire was estimated at $3 million.

It started in two locations Saturday on the western outskirts of the city on private timberland with extensive roads in an area popular for parties. It threatened hundreds of rural homes, as well as recreation areas popular with hikers and mountain bikers.

The reward is for information leading to a conviction, and it had earlier been set at $2,000. Deschutes County and the city of Bend each contributed $5,000; Maria and Bob Lotter donated $2,500; the construction company Taylor Northwest, $2,500; and Cascade Timberlands, $2,000.

"The consequences from these fires could have been catastrophic for the city," Bend City Manager Eric King said.