A blaze that damaged a house on Sunwood Drive in northwest Medford on Thursday afternoon kicked off a busy day for the Medford Fire Department.

A blaze that damaged a house on Sunwood Drive in northwest Medford on Thursday afternoon kicked off a busy day for the Medford Fire Department.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire, which sparked at about 1 p.m. in the back half of the house that sits in the 190 block of Sunwood Drive just off Beall Lane. No one was at home when the fire started.

"It started on the first floor and then moved to the attic area," said Medford Fire Department Battalion Chief Brian Fish. "There was severe smoke damage throughout the house."

One firefighter injured his hand while trying to break into the house. Fish said the firefighter's hand was smashed by a flat-headed ax as another was using it to open a door.

The firefighter did not need medical treatment, Fish added.

A fire investigator spent the day sifting through the scene looking for a cause, which was not available late Thursday.

Later in the evening fire crews responded to a blaze that partially gutted an outbuilding on Crater Lake Avenue. The building was near the former Ready-Mix concrete plant.

Crews were using cutting torches on metal while demolishing the building Thursday. Apparently, an undetected spark smoldered, causing the blaze to flare after the crews left for the day.

Fire crews had the fire under control by about 7 p.m. The blaze gutted half the building before it was extinguished.

Shortly after, a faulty hot-water heater caught a wall on fire in a home on Cherry Street. Flames blackened a wall before fire crews were able to douse the area.

"We haven't had much time for anything today," Fish said. "I was leaving one fire to go to another."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.