UPDATED: Fire crews attack blaze at rural home

Smoke pours from a burning home outside Ashland. (Cell phone photo by Sarah Lemon)

UPDATED 1:12 p.m. Fire has destroyed a rural home in the 1700 block of North Valley View Road outside Ashland.

Fire crews from across the valley are battling the three-alarm fire, but hilltop winds have fanned the flames. The roof of the two-story home has collapsed.

Owner Cate Yocum said she, her husband and their adult son had lived in the home since 1993. It was built in 1989. The Yocums operate an organic farm, powered by solar and wind energy, on the property.

Yocum said she was home with the flu and resting on the couch when the smoke alarm went off. She managed to move one car away from the house, but said it was the only possession that she could save. She called 911 from a neighbor's home.

UPDATED 2:05 p.m. Jackson County Fire District No. 5 Chief Dan Marshall said flames were leaping through the roof as the first firefighters arrived shortly before noon. Crews quickly triggered a second alarm to bring additional resources, then later went to a third alarm.

In all seven fire engines, four water tankers and 40 firefighters from Jackson County fire districts 5 and 3, Medford, Ashland and Jacksonville worked to rein in the fire. Water trucks hauled water, then dumped it in temporary plastic reservoir that the fire engines could pump from. A narrow driveway nearly a quarter of a mile long added to the complexity of the operation.

Marshall said firefighters adopted a defensive strategy and didn't go inside the burning building, battling instead from outside.

The home was completely destroyed, Marshall said. The fire apparently started in the home's daylight basement. Its cause will be investigated, officials said.

UPDATED 12:45 p.m., posted 12:25 p.m. Firefighters from across the valley are battling a house fire in the 1700 block of North Valley View Road outside Ashland.

The fire was reported at 11:42 a.m., dispatch records show. Preliminary reports indicate that a third alarm was triggered about an hour after the first to bring more resources, including water trucks as no hydrants are available in the area.

Fire trucks, water tankers and firefighters from Jackson County Fire Distirct 5, Ashland and Medford are working at the scene, witnesses report. Flames and heavy smoke can be seen rolling into the sky. The plume of smoke can be seen from miles away on Interstate 5.

Medford fire engineer Bill Parks said no one was home at two-story house when the fire broke out. Neighbors reported hearing explosions.

Power and phone service is reportedly out in the area, too.

Updated 1:30 p.m. In an outage updated posted on the Pacific Power website just before 1 p.m., the utility reported that 994 customers in the Ashland area were without power. The cause of the outage was listed as unknown, but the report said a crew had been dispatched and officials expected to have service restored by 3 p.m. It is unknown if the outage is related to the fire.

We will have updates as more information becomes available.


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