Fast-moving Eagle Point blaze apparently started in garage; two vehicles destroyed.

Joe Saleh was enjoying a Sunday afternoon nap when a stranger knocked on his door and told his wife that their Eagle Point home was on fire.

"Thank God for Joe Saladino," Saleh said as he watched firefighters pour water on the charred remains of his house at 25 Pine Court in the Pineridge subdivision, just south of Alta Vista Road.

Saladino and his wife, Georgia, were house hunting in the neighborhood when they noticed smoke coming from the Salehs' garage. Joe Saladino alerted Saleh and his wife, Claudia, while Georgia Saladino called 9-1-1.

"We don't know what happened," Saleh's wife, Claudia, said. "It started in the garage."

The Salehs fled the house with little more than the clothes on their backs and their four dogs.

"We ran out with nothing," Joe Saleh said.

Jackson County Fire District No. 3 got the call at 2:33 p.m., and three engines were dispatched. The garage was completely engulfed in flames when the first engine arrived, and flames had begun to spread into the attic, said Rod Edwards, battalion chief for District 3. Firefighters called in a second alarm, and at one point there were five fire engines and their crews working to quench the flames.

"This thing grew quickly," Edwards said.

He said firefighters initially tried to contain the fire, but as it spread across the entire second floor, they had to withdraw from the building as the roof weakened.

"We were concerned about roof collapse," he said, noting that the lightweight trusses that are used in many newer houses are vulnerable to structural failure during a fire. The truss members are held together with thin metal gusset plates that weaken when exposed to heat and flames.

"In a really hot fire we have just a few minutes where we can make a difference," he said.

After firefighters withdrew from the building, they poured water on the fire from outside until the flames subsided.

"It took us a good hour to bring it under control," Edwards said.

Edwards said the flames caused "significant" damage to the 2,200 square-foot house, which was built in 2002 and had a real market value of $255,370, according Jackson County assessor's records. He said fire damage was limited mostly to the second floor, but smoke and water may have caused substantial damage to the living quarters on the first floor.

A pickup in the garage and a van in the driveway were also consumed by the flames.

Edwards said firefighters don't yet know what may have sparked the fire, and they'll have to go through the debris in the garage "layer by layer" to find the cause.

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492 or e-mail:bkettler@mailtribune.com