String of west Medford arsons continues

Suspected arsonists set fire to a vacant home in west Medford Wednesday evening, causing heavy damage to the garage area and additional smoke damage to the interior.

Fire officials responded to a 911 call for a structure fire at 7:41 p.m. Smoke was reported coming from the garage at 1914 Prune St. Crews from Medford Fire-Rescue and Jackson County Fire District No. 3 responded, extinguishing the fire in about 12 minutes. Three engines and a ladder truck responded, along with 14 firefighters.

Medford Fire battalion chief Ron Nelson said an initial investigation shows the fire was intentionally set. Tests pointed to multiple ignition points in the garage area, and there was no power at the home, which fire officials say has been vacant for about two years.

"It just meets the same mode of operation. They are targeting vacant homes," Nelson said. "The investigator (found) some intentional sets in the garage area. It's either a copycat, or it's the same individual working that same line."

No one was hurt. The property is owned by Bank of America, fire officials said.

It's the eighth arson for west Medford in a year. The string of additional arsons, which started April 24, 2012, have been reported on West Eleventh Street, Thomas Road, Ivy Street, West Main Street, South Columbus Avenue, and Stewart Avenue. All have been vacant homes where other potential causes of fire were ruled out by fire officials and law enforcement.

"It's definitely got our attention. We're working pretty diligently, both on the law enforcement side and on our side," Nelson said. "It's getting very old. It's just a matter of time before he causes damage to another homeowner's property or hurts somebody."

Fire crews will be back on scene today continuing their investigation.

— Ryan Pfeil

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