Medford police suspect another arson

Police suspect a fire that tore through a bush on Willamette Avenue Thursday night was set by a person because investigators found burned papers at the scene.

It's the third suspected Medford arson in less than 24 hours.

Medford Fire-Rescue responded at 7:22 p.m. to a small fire at 410 Willamette Ave. An ornamental bush, about 10 feet long by two feet tall, was smoldering, and neighbors had a garden hose trained on the flames. Firefighters assisted in extinguishing efforts.

"This wasn't a structure response or anything," said battalion chief Wayne Painter.

Fire officials spotted the rolled up papers, which police suspect had been intentionally lit by an arsonist.

Police suspect it is the third fire to be started by an arsonist Thursday. Firefighters also responded to two fires in an alley in the 800 block of West Second Street near the West Columbus Avenue intersection. They responded at 12:27 a.m. and 3:04 a.m. Both fires damaged some landscaping, and the second one burned up a fence near two homes. No one was hurt.

Investigators ruled out any accidental cause and concluded the fires were arson.

The fire at Willamette Avenue happened over two miles away, which has left police somewhat puzzled. Arsonists typically set fires in a select area. The time the fire was set also did not match up with the first two.

"You will see a pattern," said Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau. "Right now, it's kind of spread out."

Another fire broke out on an abandoned home's back deck at 9:14 p.m. in the 2400 block of Edgemont Drive in Medford, though police do not suspect it is arson. Nail polish remover was found at the scene, and authorities suspect it was the cause. However, police said juveniles hang out at the abandoned home frequently, and police suspect the fire started accidentally at their hands.

"We're thinking that may be separate," Budreau said.

The Edgemont fire prompted a full structural response from Medford Fire-Rescue, but only one engine was needed to extinguish the blaze.

"They had the fire knocked down within minutes," Painter said.

— Ryan Pfeil

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