A cigarette left smoldering on a couch started a fire early Wednesday morning that consumed a Rogue River home, killing two people and injuring a third who managed to escape, fire investigators said.
Rogue River police said Theodore "Ted" Stanfield, 77, who lived at the home at 1003 Pine St., and a visitor, Karen Crayne, 56, of Grants Pass, died in the fire. Stanfield's girlfriend, Johanna W. Campbell-Smith, 47, escaped through a bedroom window and was transported by ambulance to Asante Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass, where she was treated for minor injuries and released.
"I am amazed that she made it out, and she didn't have any smoke-inhalation damage," said Deputy Fire Marshall Michelle Stevens.
At around 2:45 a.m., Michelle and Jamison Has, who live across the street from Stanfield, woke to Campbell-Smith's screams and immediately called 911.
"She was screaming, 'Help me, help me! Somebody help me,' " Michelle Has said.
From her front porch, Has could see that the surrounding trees also were ablaze. Her husband sprinted down the street to warn the neighbors and console Campbell-Smith, who was "frantic."
Rogue River Fire District No. 1 crews arrived at the home with two engines at 2:53 a.m. and were joined shortly after by firefighters from the Evans Valley Fire District, Grants Pass fire department, Rural-Metro in Josephine County and Jackson County Fire District No. 3.
"When we arrived, the back was still standing, but the building was starting to collapse," said District 1 Chief Jim Stearns, who described the conditions at that point as "unsurvivable."
With the home engulfed in flames, crews had to focus on preventing the fire from spreading to the neighboring property.
Firefighters were informed that there were possibly one or two people still in the house, but it wasn't until after they had knocked down the raging flames that they found the bodies, Stearns said.
Both bodies were in the bedroom, Stevens said.
On Tuesday night, Stanfield held what Rogue River Police Chief Ken Lewis described as "a dinner party with excessive alcohol." Around 9:25 p.m., police were called to a fight at the house.
Stanfield had been assaulted by another man but refused medical treatment at the time, Lewis said.
"(Stanfield) was very intoxicated and very uncooperative and told police and fire to get the 'F' off his property," Lewis said.
Police have been called frequently to the house for disorderly conduct, domestic disputes and fights — all alcohol-related, Lewis added.
Police later interviewed the man involved in the fight and cleared him of any involvement in the fire, Lewis said.
Campbell-Smith told investigators that Stanfield was too intoxicated to walk to their bedroom that night and had to crawl to bed, Lewis reported.
Before she turned in, Campbell-Smith doused a cigarette that Crayne left burning on the couch, Lewis said. But shortly after, Crayne woke Campbell-Smith saying the couch was on fire, he said.
Campbell-Smith told Lewis later that she tried to put it out, but the flames were shooting to the ceiling. She exited through a bedroom window. When Stanfield and Crayne didn't follow, she assumed they had gone out the back, Lewis said.
"Either (Crayne) smoked another cigarette or the first was rekindled," Stevens said. "Either way, the origin was the couch."
Stevens said the smoke alarms were working, but the occupants may not have been sober enough to hear them.
After a neighbor woke her up, Kim Peat, who lives two doors down from Stanfield, sprayed down her home and started packing and loading her children and belongings into the car.
"I was ready to evacuate," she said.
Meanwhile, Has said her husband attended to Campbell-Smith, who had cuts on her arms and legs, until emergency crews arrived, and their neighbor, Steve Hagg, who works for Pacific Power, ran down the street to turn off the gas.
"It's very, very sad," Has said.
Joe Tambellini, who lives next door to Stanfield, said the flames were about 30-feet high by the time fire crews arrived.
"The firefighters were really on top of it," he said. "They stationed two guys on the side of my house to keep the fire from spreading."
The fire singed the siding on Tambellini's house, broke a window and burnt down a portion of his fence.
"But that was pretty minor considering the size of the fire," he said.
Tambellini described Stanfield as a "good ol' boy" who would often share vegetables from his garden.
Roughly 30 firefighters, four fire engines, three water tenders and a flock of support vehicles helped to extinguish the flames, and most remained until about 8 a.m.
Investigators classified the cause of the fire as accidental.