Third Medford fire determined to be arson

Officials say a bush was set afire a day after two arson fires damaged a fence and landscaping in west Medford

Police suspect a fire that burned a bush on Willamette Avenue Thursday night was set intentionally, because investigators found burned papers at the scene.

It was the third suspected arson to occur in Medford in less than 24 hours.

Medford Fire-Rescue crews who responded at 7:22 p.m. to a report of a fire at 410 Willamette Ave. found a smoldering ornamental bush, about 10 feet long by 2 feet tall, and neighbors with a garden hose trained on the flames. Firefighters helped to extinguish it.

"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.

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

Investigators concluded that the fires were arson.

The fire on Willamette Avenue occurred more than two miles from the earlier fires, which left police somewhat puzzled.

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

At 9:14 p.m., another fire broke out, on the back deck of an abandoned house in the 2400 block of Edgemont Drive in Medford, but police do not suspect it was arson. Nail-polish remover was found at the scene, but police suspect the fire was started accidentally. Police said juveniles hang out at the abandoned house frequently and may have been involved.

"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.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at rpfeil@mailtribune.com.


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