Fire consumes buildings and five acres outside White City

Fire destroyed at least two structures and charred around five acres along Highway 140 just outside White City.

Jackson County Fire District No. 3 investigators are working to determine the cause of the blaze, which sparked around 2:30 p.m. near the intersection of Highway 140 and Kershaw Road.

The blaze sent a large column of black and grey smoke high above White City that was visible from Medford.

District 3 Division Chief Dave Blakely said the flames crossed into three separate properties.

"The interior of the fire looked to be a storage yard with a lot of equipment and lumber sitting around," Blakely said.

At least two buildings were burned and a large swath of a nearby pasture was blackened.

Fire crews worked to drench the perimeter of the fire to keep it from spreading to the dry grass across Highway 140 and away from a line of homes nearby.

"We were lucky the wind was blowing toward the highway," Blakely said.

The wind pushed the flames toward the highway, which acted as a barrier keeping it from more fuel.

Oregon Department of Forestry crews monitored the open pastures around the property, checking for blowing embers that could spark additional spot fires.

Jackson County sheriff's deputies closed the area to traffic as multiple fire engines closed in on the scene.

Some residents who live near the fire said their homes lost power in the moments after the fire sparked. Power was restored within minutes after Pacific Power crews arrived on the scene.

Blakely said fire crews were expected to remain on the site for several hours to keep watch on the area.

"This will smolder for hours and hours," Blakely said.

Investigators roped off patches of land at various spots around the fire in an attempt to determine a source.

"We don't have any information of anything suspicious," Blakely said.

ODF spokesman Brain Ballou noted that areas with dense grass and low brush are a concern to fire crews as the temperatures head toward triple digits this weekend.

"It's hard to see how anything can possibly get any drier," Ballou said. "We are prepared for just about anything right now."

— Chris Conrad


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