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MailTribune.com
  • Fire guts Central Point home

    Faulty water heater suspected as cause for blaze that rips through house filled with memories
  • Ahouse full of valuable antiques and family memories on the outskirts of Central Point burst into flames Friday evening when something went wrong with the water heater, a former owner said.
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  • Ahouse full of valuable antiques and family memories on the outskirts of Central Point burst into flames Friday evening when something went wrong with the water heater, a former owner said.
    "It was gas powered ... that's where the smoke was coming from," said Wayne Olson, who lived in the house in the 5000 block of Seven Oaks Road and raised his family there with his late wife, Dorna.
    No one has lived in the home for several years, Olson said, but its owners live on the property in trailers.
    "My wife grew up there. We lived there together," said Olson, standing in the yard as firefighters from Jackson County Fire District No. 3 and Medford Fire-Rescue doused the flaming, smoke-filled green home with a steady stream of water.
    No one was injured in the blaze, said Greg Winfrey, battalion chief with District 3.
    The official cause of the fire is under investigation, he said, but the fire did originate near the water heater.
    "It's going to take some extensive overhaul," Winfrey said of the house, which had flames licking through its charred roof. "We basically have an attic fire and the second story burning."
    He said one portion of the house was "all flames," when crews arrived on scene.
    Crews responded to the call of a structure fire at 7:08 p.m. and arrived five minutes later, Winfrey said.
    About 16 firefighters backed by six engines — two from Medford Fire-Rescue and four from District 3 — worked stamping out the flames, he said.
    He said the home's wood shingle roof and the amount of antiques inside made the fire challenging to put completely out.
    One crew was still on scene at 10:30 p.m., he said.
    Olson said the fire spread from the water heater through the wall and up to the second story of the home, where gutted the inside and torched countless antiques his wife had been collecting since her childhood before passing away in 2007 after a long battle with Bechet's disease.
    "There were a lot of antiques in there — clocks, tables, chairs, hutches, all types of very expense dishes. There was a lot," he said. "It's part of life on this earth, though. There are ups and downs, and it was just stuff."
    Olson's son in law and the home's owner, Joe Gorski, who returned from golfing to find the home in flames, didn't wish to speak with the media.
    Olson said the home was more than 130 years old, and he used to pick up his wife on dates there when they met in high school, eventually settling down there to raise their family.
    "It's sad," he said. "It took off once it started. ... This old house, it was just way primed."
    Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-776-4471 or swheeler@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/swhlr.
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