Arson investigators looking into West Griffin Creek Road fire

A fire that destroyed a two-story home on the 5000 block of West Griffin Creek Road on Nov. 21 is being investigated as a possible arson, authorities have confirmed.

Oregon State Police arson and explosives investigator Gaylon Couch said that OSP has taken over the investigation.

Neighbors reported the fire at about 10:30 a.m. Nov. 21, stating they heard a large explosion and saw a black plume of smoke rising from the house. The home's location high on a ridge, made the smoke visible from Medford and surrounding areas.

Because those early reports didn't have the exact address of the rural home, Medford Fire-Rescue and Applegate Valley Fire District responded, driving up several long steep driveways as they tried to find the source of the smoke.

Homeowners Paul and Jennifer Newcombe and their four children were not home at the time of the fire, which burned so hot and so fast that insurance adjusters have ruled the home a total loss.

According to Newcombe, investigators believe the fire started in the living room or downstairs play room.

"The inside of the house looks like there was an explosion," Newcombe said. "Investigators were asking me if we start our wood stove with a gas can."

For now the family is staying in a two-bedroom hotel room in Medford. Friends and family have pitched in to provide shoes and clothes for the kids.

"I have no idea what we'll do for Christmas," Newcombe said.

— Mandy Valencia

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