Victims of the worst homicide in Jackson County's history lay unconscious in a smoky west Medford house for at least 16 to 20 minutes, diminishing their chances of surviving, a preliminary timeline reveals.
"For every minute that goes by, the survivability decreases," said Medford Fire Chief Dave Bierwiler. "The longer you're in a toxic environment, the less chance of surviving."
9:23:09 a.m.: Caller reports smoke in a house at 1027 W. 10th St.
— Source: Medford Fire Department
A preliminary timeline of the emergency response by the Medford Fire Department shows the first call came in at 9:23 a.m. Monday. The first body was taken out of the building at about 9:39 a.m., 16 minutes later. The last body was brought out at 9:43 a.m., 20 minutes later.
Firefighters found six victims in the house, Jordan Criado, 51, Tabasha Paige-Criado, 30, and their four children, Elijah, 7, Isaac, 6, Andrew, 5, and Aurora, 2. The mother and four children died from a combination of stab wounds and smoke inhalation, police have said. Police suspect the father, who is in critical condition at Rogue Valley Medical Center, stabbed his family then set the house on fire and remained inside.
By examining char depths and other factors, fire investigators will try to determine when the house was set ablaze.
Police dropped Paige-Criado off at her house at 7:30 a.m. Monday, after her husband reported she went missing around 5:30 a.m. When police left her at the house, they didn't notice any signs of fear or other problems between the couple.
Bierwiler said at this point, investigators know only that the fire started sometime between 7:30 a.m. and 9:23 a.m.
In his experience, Bierwiler said, most neighbors will notice smoke coming from a house fairly soon after a fire erupts.
He said he's heard of cases where a very small fire can cause death. He said a guest in a motel died from carbon monoxide poisoning after a TV caught on fire. The fire extinguished itself after the oxygen was burned up in the room.
Even older houses require a source of air to keep a fire going, he said.
Investigators will try to determine where the fire started, what caused the fire to ignite and look at the depth of charred materials to determine how long the fire burned. Police have said investigators found multiple points of ignition in the home.
Deputy Fire Chief Gordon Sletmoe said firefighters consider it extremely dangerous to stay in a smoky building for even four to eight minutes. He said the degree of danger depends on many factors, including the amount of oxygen remaining inside the building, the toxic nature of the smoke and the heat of the gases.
"It's a lot of minutes for a fire that is burning," said Sletmoe, the first firefighter to arrive at the Criado home.
One breath of super-heated gases is enough to overwhelm a person, he said.
"It varies so much fire to fire," he said. "In any given house, there are areas where it is not as smoky."
A preliminary time line has been prepared by the firefighters, Sletmoe said.
At 9:23 a.m., a caller reported smoke coming from a home at 1027 W. 10th St.
The first engines were dispatched at 9:23 a.m.
Sletmoe arrived on scene at 9:28 a.m. At that point, he wasn't aware that the victims were in the house.
"I only saw smoke," he said. "I couldn't see inside the house."
The first engine arrived at 9:29 a.m., followed by the second at 9:30 a.m. Firefighters worked to clear the smoke so they could go inside.
By 9:39 a.m., the first bodies were being brought out and firefighters requested multiple Mercy Flights ambulances.
Firefighters announced they had recovered six victims from the house at 9:43 a.m.
The victims had weak pulses and emergency responders worked on them for up to 45 minutes on the front lawn trying to revive them.
Only the father survived, but he has been in critical condition on a breathing machine since the fire.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.