Multiple fires tested the ability of crews to roll with punches

Medford and Jackson County firefighters spent between midnight Friday and daylight Saturday covering each others' backs, as three fires broke out within hours of each other that resulted in total losses of three buildings.

The fire that leveled the Marie Callender's restaurant in Medford around 3 a.m. came on the heels of a blaze on Dark Hollow Road in the territory covered by Medford Fire-Rescue, requiring coordination of area fire and emergency personnel.

The fire on Dark Hollow, which resulted in the total loss of a vacant house, occurred around midnight and required a full response.

Flames were visible from a mile away as firefighters raced to the scene, and the house was fully involved by the time crews arrived, according to Medford Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Ken Goodson.

No injuries were reported and the cause is still under investigation.

The initial call came in at 11:57 p.m. Friday, and four engines plus a water tender from Medford Fire-Rescue responded. Additional help came almost immediately from Jackson County Fire District No. 5.

Goodman described the house as an older, vacant, 11/2;-story house with a daylight basement that effectively makes it a 21/2;-story structure.

The house, at 3013 Dark Hollow Road, was a total loss, Goodson said.

As crews were mopping up the Dark Hollow fire, alarms sounded for the Marie Callender's blaze in Medford, requiring full-on coordination of regional firefighters.

"We called in extra people and, of course, it was a mutual aid show, with all the different agencies running around," said Goodson. "They all either responded to fires or provided coverage while we were fighting fires."

Before the smoking beams at Marie Callender's had a chance to cool, a third fire was just getting going in the territory covered by Jackson County Fire District No. 3 near Eagle Point.

Firefighters could hear explosions going off as they rolled up to that blaze, which was in the process of consuming a two-story, 4,000-square-foot shop on residential property in the 1000 block of Palima Drive.

The explosions were caused by propane tanks igniting in a 26-foot motor home and 28-foot travel trailer parked near the shop, which was fully involved by the time District 3 crews arrived, said district spokesman Don Hickman.

The fire, reported at 4:43 a.m., destroyed the vehicles and the shop, which was filled with household belongings, Hickman said.

The shop was unoccupied and no injuries were reported, Hickman said. Crews knocked the fire down by 5:13 a.m.

A house on the property is located uphill from the shop and was not damaged by the fire.

Four engines and 20 firefighters responded to the scene, Hickman said.

Reach Mail Tribune features editor David Smigelski at 541-776-8784 or

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