Family escapes house fire despite nonfunctioning smoke alarm

An early morning fire Wednesday burned through the attic and garage of a house in the 1000 block of Camellia Avenue in Medford.

Officials said homeowner Charis Tashler and her three children awoke to heavy smoke in the home at 4:17 a.m. and called 911. Five engines and 20 personnel from Medford Fire-Rescue responded and knocked the blaze down in about 10 minutes.

The occupants escaped without injury. No firefighters were hurt.

Damage estimates were unavailable. Fire crews said the fire was caused accidentally by still-hot ashes from a wood stove being dumped into a trash can.

"They were still warm enough to where they smoldered for quite awhile," said fire inspector Derek Zwagerman. "It's like a cigarette causing a fire."

A smoke alarm did not go off in the home because it did not have a battery in it. Zwagerman cautioned homeowners to make sure batteries are changed regularly.

"A working smoke alarm is critical," Zwagerman said. "It could have been a lot worse."

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