JACKSONVILLE — A three-alarm fire tore through a Jacksonville home early this morning, shooting a column of flames into the sky that could be seen from Medford.
The fire, reported just after 2:30 a.m. at 720 Applegate St., was originally reported as smoke and flames coming from the rear of the structure, Jacksonville fire officials said. The blaze's severity changed when crews arrived on scene, as flames began to engulf the structure.
"Before we could even get off the rig and get ready to go it just blew up on them," said Jacksonville Fire Department public information officer Chris Arnold. "It flared up on (them) and we had a totally involved house."
Fire crews changed their original attack plan of dousing the fire from the inside. The flames began to spread, ripping through vegetation surrounding the home and threatening other houses adjacent to the property.
"You could see it for miles," said Anna Morris, who lives across the street and is a friend and housekeeper to the occupant, Sharon Raab. She estimated the flames were 20 feet above the nearby tree tops.
Fire crews upgraded the response to a second-alarm fire, then a third. Eight engines went to the scene, with crews from Medford Fire-Rescue, Applegate Fire, and Jackson County Fire District 3 joining the Jacksonville units already on scene. Arnold estimated a total of about 34 firefighters responded, with the extra help needed to help manage the scene.
"We're a small department, so we have to anticipate," he said.
The flames did spread to a home next door, damaging the attic space. A trailer in the driveway of another home also caught fire, with the heat peeling back some paint on the side. No one was hurt in the fire.
Fire crews have since blocked off Applegate Street between M and Graham streets, and crews remained on the scene making sure flames do not reignite. Arnold estimated the building was a total loss. No cause has yet been established.
Jackson County property records show Raab as one of the homeowners. She is currently staying with friends. Fire crews said she does have insurance. She could not be reached for comment.
"She's still in shock," Morris said. "She didn't have time to get anything."
Morris added that three pets were still being searched for after the fire. All are believed to have run from the home. A golden retriever with a fresh haircut named Billy and two cats — one a calico and one a tabby — were still missing. Anyone who sees the animals is asked to call family members at 323-336-2464.
— Ryan Pfeil