A vehicle fire that spread to a duplex on Columbus Avenue Saturday afternoon caused $50,000 in damage, but the renters and their dogs escaped unscathed.

A vehicle fire that spread to a duplex on Columbus Avenue Saturday afternoon caused $50,000 in damage, but the renters and their dogs escaped unscathed.

Fire crews received a call at 1:13 p.m. that a vehicle fire started about five feet from the backside of the duplex.

While crews were en route, multiple 9-1-1 calls indicated the fire had spread to the duplex. The Medford Fire Department, which had dispatched one unit initially, then called out four engines and a battalion chief. The first engine on the scene found the fire had spread into the attic.

Fire crews extinguished the exterior blaze in about 10 minutes, making sure the occupants and their dogs were safely out of the building.

The ceiling had to be removed to extinguish the fire in the attic. Power lines to the duplex also were damaged.

Deputy Fire Chief Gordon Sletmoe said investigators think some kind of electrical short, possibly in the door of the Ford Explorer, started the fire.

The wind was blowing from the south, so the flames quickly spread to the duplex, a few feet away.

The Explorer had been parked at the residence earlier in the day by a friend of one of the residents.

Sletmoe said it is not uncommon to have electrical shorts in vehicles.

"Cars today are full of electronic and electric components," he said.

Sletmoe said the unit to the north received little damage and the occupant could move back in once the smoke damage is cleared out. The other unit will require repairs before it is habitable.

Sletmoe said this is the second fire in less than a week where the renter didn't have insurance.

A 79-year-old woman on Kylee Ann escaped from a trailer fire last Thursday caused by a smoldering cigarette. The woman's dog didn't escape, however. "This points out the fact that people absolutely need to have renter's insurance," Sletmoe said

He said it's also important that people don't try and re-enter a burning house to retrieve their dog or belongings because they can be easily overwhelmed by smoke and heat.

In addition, to Medford fire crews, Jackson County Fire District No. 5, Mercy Flights Ambulance and the Medford Police Department arrived at the scene. A total of eight units with 20 personnel responded to the scene.

The Red Cross helped the fire victims find lodging.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or e-mail dmann@mailtribune.com.