Smoldering rice bag starts blaze

EAGLE POINT — A microwaved rice bag used to soothe sore muscles accidentally caused a fire that gutted an Eagle Point apartment early Monday, fire officials reported.

One of the occupants at an apartment in the 400 block of Teakwood Drive had heated up a rice bag warmer used to soothe sore muscles. After several minutes, the bag began to smolder.

"He heated it up a little longer than he should have," said Don Hickman, Jackson County Fire District No. 3 public information officer. "There is a maximum amount of time to heat them up."

The apartment resident threw the smoldering rice bag outside, and it landed on a couch outside, Hickman said.

"It looks as if (it) smoldered and caught the couch on fire," he said.

The couch fire spread to the home. A smoke alarm activated and notified the other residents of the blaze shortly after midnight.

All made it out without injury.

"That's probably what saved their lives, hearing that smoke alarm," Hickman said.

Jackson County Fire District No. 3 responded with three engines, with initial help from Medford Fire-Rescue and Jackson County Fire District No. 4. No one was hurt, officials said.

The apartment was a total loss, displacing the two residents. A nearby apartment wasn't damaged. The American Red Cross responded to the scene with food, clothing and comfort kits.

Hickman said anything that is smoldering should be treated as a possible fire-starter, even a bag of rice.

"They can get warm and hold a lot of heat," he said.

— Ryan Pfeil

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


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