Grease from a pan of cooking potatoes is the likely culprit in a three-alarm fire that tore through a rural home outside Ashland Wednesday and drew fire crews from five area agencies.
Updated 2:29 p.m. Grease from a pan of cooking potatoes is the likely culprit in a three-alarm fire that tore through a rural home outside Ashland Wednesday and drew fire crews from five area agencies.
“After talking with the occupants and doing a preliminary investigation, it appears it started in the kitchen area downstairs,” said Dan Marshall, Jackson County Fire District No. 5 chief.
Fire crews said a man — his name was not available — was downstairs cooking the potatoes when grease likely leapt onto the walls and spread. The man also had some butane fuel nearby, which he was using to fill up lighters. Fire officials said it could have contributed to the spread.
7:35 a.m. Hours after firefighters from five Rogue Valley agencies extinguished a fire that ripped through an Ashland home Wednesday, a blaze reignited on the collapsed structure.
Crews responded to the reignited fire at around 3 a.m. today, rushing back out to the home in the 1700 block of North Valley View Road. Dan Marshall, Jackson County Fire District No. 5 chief, said winds probably fueled some of the smoldering material, causing it to reignite.
"We ended up getting phone calls from several neighbors," Marshall said.
One engine and two water tenders responded to the scene and got the rekindled flames under control quickly. No one was hurt.
"It didn't cause any more damage other than burning up the remaining fuel," Marshall said.
One engine is still on scene, but the majority of crew members left at around 7 a.m. Marshall said he thought a reignition could happen because of the home's exposure to winds on a hillside.
"The fire starting back up is fairly typical," he said.
Fire crews from Jackson County fire districts 5 and 3, Medford, Ashland and Jacksonville responded to the initial fire late Wednesday morning. By the time the first crews arrived, the 3,500-square foot, two-story home was fully involved. Smoke poured off the house and was visible from miles away. The blaze drew seven engines, four water tenders and about 40 firefighters to the scene.
The home belongs to Bill and Cate Yocum, organic farmers who have lived in the home since 1993. They and their adult son made it outside safely.
Crews will be back on scene today conducting additional interviews and determining the fire's cause. Marshall said the son had told responders that he was filling butane lighters and heating oil on a stove in the home's daylight basement, where officials believe the fire started. The official cause has not yet been established.
— Ryan Pfeil