and Sanne Specht

and Sanne Specht


The parents of the two children who died late Thursday in a fast-spreading fire near Phoenix had left their children in a small cabin while they went to the main residence to use the bathroom, according to Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters.

The parents of the year-old girl and 4-year-old boy took a baby monitor with them when they went to the main house to brush their teeth, the sheriff said Friday.

The cabin had no running water and was heated by a woodstove, which the mother had stoked shortly before putting the children to bed, said Fire Chief Dan Marshall of Jackson County Fire District 5.

"They didn't hear anything on the baby monitor," Winters said. "But they looked out and saw the cabin was engulfed in flames. They did try to get back in to save the kids, but the heat was too intense. This is a very, very sad situation."

Winters did not release the children's names pending autopsies scheduled for this morning.

The cause of the blaze is undetermined, but it's likely that a stack of wood or paper next to the woodstove ignited, Marshall said.

The main residence, at 6521 Coleman Creek Road, was not damaged in the fire, which began inside the small cabin. Officials said they believe the children were alone in the cabin at the time of the fire, but there's no evidence of criminal intent.

The children's bodies were in their beds when firefighters found them, Marshall said.

The blaze was reported a few minutes after 10 p.m., and crews from District No. 5, the Medford Fire Department and the Mercy Flights ambulance responded to the scene. Crews were hampered in their response by the narrow, twisting dirt road leading to the residence, which is three-quarters of a mile from the far south end of Coleman Creek Road, a forested and steep mountainous area.

Despite heavy rain, the fire spread through the cabin too quickly to prevent damage to the building or to allow entry to search for the children, officials said.

The fire was reduced to a few smoldering spots by 10:30 p.m., fire officials said.

First responders and dispatchers on the blaze will receive group counseling Saturday, Marshall said.

"This is the most frustrating situation for firefighters because it's our job to save life and property," Marshall said. "By the time we got there, the outcome was already determined. There was no chance for a rescue."

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.