EAGLE POINT — It took only 20 minutes for fire to destroy two large Eagle Point barns and severely damage another Tuesday afternoon.
Fire investigators with Jackson County Fire District No. 3 are investigating what caused the two-alarm blaze that sparked near the corner of Reese Creek Road and Crystal Drive in northeast Eagle Point.
The fire started just before 7 p.m. inside one of the barns, which was filled with hay, District 3 Battalion Chief Rod Edwards said.
"By the time our first engine arrived, the barn was fully involved," Edwards said.
The fire quickly spread to an adjacent barn, reducing it to rubble within minutes, Edwards said.
The flames then spread to a third barn that was full of farm equipment. The third barn was heavily damaged but remained standing once firefighters gained control of the blaze.
Fire crews made sure to douse the hay with water so it would not throw embers that could spread to nearby homes and fields, Edwards said.
"When all three barns were going, it was the equivalent of three to four residential home fires burning at the same time," Edwards said. "This fire was extremely hot."
The Oregon Department of Forestry sent a helicopter to the fire to drop buckets of water directly onto the barns, Edwards said. "We wanted to get water on the heat columns coming from the fire," he said.
Meanwhile, ODF crews used spades and shovels to dig a line around the barns so the fire would not spread.
Edwards said the barns did not house livestock and there were no injuries.
"They were full of farming equipment and hay," he said. "All three barns are a total loss."
The blaze sent a large column of dark smoke above town. The column drifted across Highway 62 to the west and was visible from east Medford.
Pacific Power crews shut down power lines in the area. At least one line was damaged by the flames, Edwards said.
Edwards said the smoldering hay will remain a problem for a long time.
"We are going to be out here all night monitoring this," he said. "We don't want to leave that hay unattended."
The property owner lives to the south of the fire area and was notified that her barns were destroyed, Edwards said.
"Fortunately this didn't spreadto any houses," he said.
Reach reported Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.