A quick-thinking deputy from the Jackson County Sheriff's Department rescued an 88-year-old woman Saturday night from her burning south Medford home.
"He saved my life and my three dogs," Margret Schwartz said. "All of a sudden, he knocked my door down and came in. He said, " 'Your house is on fire — let's get out of here.' "
The call made by sheriff deputy Brendan Dodge came in at 10:44 p.m. to Medford fire. Three engines from Medford fire responded along with one engine from Fire District No. 5.
Schwartz said she was able to salvage some of her belongings, but fire crews boarded the house up to prevent anyone from entering.
After Dodge got her out of her bedroom, Schwartz said she went into the dining room still half asleep.
"There was so much smoke in that room that I thought there was a glaze over my eyes," she said. "I told the deputy that I've got to put my shoes on before I leave the house."
Once outside, Schwartz was shivering in the cold night air, and the deputy put his jacket over her to keep her warm.
Schwartz said she didn't suffer any injuries, nor did her dogs — Corky, Peanut and Barkly — whose barking failed to rouse her from her sleep.
Schwartz said she was happy to see her flowers and other plants didn't appear to be damaged by the fire. A herd of four deer that Schwartz said were born on the property lounged contentedly in the backyard.
She said she has insurance on the house that she has lived in since 1953. The house was built from material salvaged from Camp White in Sams Valley.
Brian Fish, battalion chief for Medford fire, said the fire started near the garage and was burning in the attic area.
He said the sheriff deputy was driving by the house when he saw the fire. He started banging on the front door trying to determine if anyone was inside, Fish said. After receiving no response, the deputy broke open the door and went inside.
The cause of the fire and damage estimates will require further investigation. The house didn't have working smoke detectors, Fish said.
By the time fire crews arrived a hole had burned through the roof above the garage. Smoke was pouring out of eve vents.
Fish said gusty winds helped fan the flames.
Despite the damage, the house appears relatively unscathed from the street except for a tarp thrown over the hole in the roof.
Fish said part of the roof will have to be replaced along with some supports.
Schwartz said her family has been very supportive, and she is living with her son, Keith Schwartz.
"I was born in that house," her son said.
Coincidentally, his own house in another part of Medford also sustained some damage from a fire that started on his neighbor's property about two weeks ago.
Despite their ordeals recently, mother and son appeared to take the fire in stride.
"We've got a lot to be thankful for," said her son.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or email@example.com.