Update, 4:30 p.m.: Flames destroyed part of a vacant cold storage building just outside Talent this afternoon, Jackson County Fire District No. 5 Chief Dan Marshall said.
A portion of the building with a wooden frame and metal siding burned completely, while an adjacent concrete structure was damaged, the fire chief reported.
Investigators from across the county will track down the cause of the fire, focusing inside the wooden structure, on the south side, where the fire is believed to have started. Marshall said the fire isn't considered suspicious at this time, but a regional team of investigators is being called because of the size of the fire.
Fifty-five firefighters battled the blaze, which was reported at 2:12 p.m., dispatch records show.
Traffic is again flowing on South Pacific Highway, which was closed for about an hour while crews worked. Oregon Department of Transportation reported at 4:23 p.m. that both southbound lanes and one northbound lane were open.
Update, 3:50 p.m.: Crews continue to battle a large fire at a Talent fruit-packing plant, but have confirmed that potentially hazardous materials at the site won't be a problem.
Fire officials say only a small amount of ammonia was at the scene and is “not a safety hazard,” according to Chris Chambers of Ashland Fire & Rescue, which also responded to the three-alarm fire.
The fire is burning a cold-storage facility originally owned by Associated Fruit but now owned by South Valley Bank & Trust, which is now Washington Federal, according to property records.
Fire crews were concerned that ammonia fumes could mix with the smoke and force an evacuation of homes within a one-mile radius, according to hazmat safety protocols. But only a small amount was discovered, Chambers said.
Thirteen engines are fighting the fire, which was still flaming an hour after it started.
Update, 3:10 p.m.: Oregon Department of Transportation reports that a fire burning at the northeast corner of Suncrest Road and South Pacific Highway has closed the highway.
Both north- and southbound traffic is being rerouted while fire crews from across the valley battle a fire at an old fruit-packing plant. Detours are being set up. Motorists are advised to avoid the area if possible.
Update, 2:50 p.m.: What appears to be a fruit-packing plant with metal siding is burning at the northeast corner of Suncrest Road and South Pacific Highway, sending large columns of white and black smoke into the sky. Crews and at least six engines from Jackson County Fire District Nos. 5 and 3, Medford Fire-Rescue and Oregon Department of Forestry are fighting the fire.
Crews are concerned about a potentially exposed ammonia tank and have called for a team trained in dealing with hazardous materials.
Suncrest Road is closed while crews work. South Pacific Highway remains open.
2:35 p.m. A three-alarm structure fire in Talent is sending up a column of dark smoke that can be seen from Medford. Crews are responding to South Pacific Highway and Suncrest Road. More will be reported soon as information becomes available.