A fire that tore through the front end of a Medford hamburger restaurant this morning is likely arson, but that is still not confirmed, fire officials said.
Update 10 a.m. Investigators suspect that a burglar took cash and a cash register from Barney's Burgers, then set the North Riverside Avenue restaurant on fire.
Medford police said in an updated news release this morning that a burglar got into the business, perhaps through an unlocked door, took the money, then apparently started the fire. Evidence shows that the fire started inside the building.
Police ask anyone with information about the incident to contact Detective Tony Young at 541-774-2230.
7:15 a.m. A fire that tore through the front end of a Medford hamburger restaurant this morning is likely arson, but that is still not confirmed, fire officials said.
"There's evidence that is consistent with an arson-type fire," said Medford Fire-Rescue battalion chief Erin Sawall, adding he couldn't comment on evidence specifics.
Medford Fire-Rescue responded to Barney's Burgers, 415 N. Riverside Ave. at 12:22 a.m. following reports of a structure fire. Heavy fire and smoke greeted crews.
"The whole front of the building was involved in fire," said battalion chief Erin Sawall.
The four engines and 14 personnel attacked the blaze and had it under control in seven minutes. There weren't many cars on Riverside Avenue during knockdown, so no significant traffic delays were reported. No one was hurt.
Sawall said crews were able to keep the flames confined to the front of the building where the dining area is located. That section is likely completely destroyed, with additional smoke damage throughout the rest of the building. Business owners salvaged some of the frozen sale items from the back, fire officials said.
Following knockdown, fire officials and Medford police found the perceived evidence of arson.
The investigation is ongoing, with crews back on scene today conducting further analysis. If it is arson, it makes for the latest in a string of 12 fires dubbed arson or suspicious in nature, stretching back to April 2012. All other alleged targets have been vacant homes.
— Ryan Pfeil