An 8-year-old boy playing with fire started the blaze that tore through the back end of a Medford home this morning, shooting a column of smoke into the sky visible from blocks away, fire investigators said.

An 8-year-old boy playing with fire started the blaze that tore through the back end of a Medford home this morning, shooting a column of smoke into the sky visible from blocks away, fire investigators said.

Medford Fire-Rescue responded to the structure fire at 619 S. Ivy St. at 8:46 a.m. following reports of thick smoke pouring from the home. The fire drew a crowd of neighbors and passersby and closed the block between Twelfth and Monroe streets.

Fire crews went to the back yard where they found flames tearing through the awning and porch of the house, which is located just north of Spiegelberg Stadium at Central Medford High School. The fire had started to make its way into the home's main living space, attic and garage. Firefighters were able to knock down the spreading blaze in about a minute, preventing it from spreading to other homes.

Fire officials said no one was home when firefighters arrived.

The boy told investigators that he was playing with fire near the back door and thought he had put out the small flames by spitting on them. He and his mother then left for the day, and the smoldering embers later reignited, fire officials said.

— Staff reports