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Family escapes triplex blaze

The acrid smell of melting plastic alerted a family to an attic fire Monday evening that displaced residents of a triplex on West Main Street in Talent.

"We could just taste it and feel it in our throats," said Terri Wright. "When we looked up, the skylight was melting and dripping down."

She and her husband, Jerry, and two children — 13-year-old Stephanie and 11-year-old Richard Wright — scooped up the family pets, including two Chihuahuas and two energetic kittens, and got out. They called 9-1-1 to report the fire at 6:17 p.m. Monday.

Crews from Jackson County Fire District No. 5 and the Medford Fire Department responded to 301 W. Main St., discovering a fire smoldering in the attic of a two-story home. District 5 engineer and fire investigator Cary Halligan said the blaze appeared to have started in the attic above a two-bedroom loft apartment. That apartment was heavily damaged.

Firefighters had to cut through the roof to get to the blaze. Dousing it with water caused burned debris to collapse into the kitchen of the downstairs apartment where the Wrights lived.

"The kitchen was the center of the house," Stephanie Wright said. "That's where we all always were."

After safely escaping, the Wrights stayed with family. They have 12 children and many of the adult children live in the area, said Terri Wright, who called her family a blessing.

The Southern Oregon chapter of American Red Cross also responded Monday night to assist the Wrights and residents of the upstairs apartment and another damaged apartment to the rear of the house.

The Red Cross provided bags with toiletries and vouchers for hotel stays and other necessities.

Terri Wright was concerned about the loss of medicine she and her husband need for chronic illnesses.

At her daughter's house next door, the family watched and waited as fire investigators sorted through their home, where a front bedroom was barely damaged but other rooms were destroyed. A summer breeze wafted the smell of smoke across the neighborhood.

Halligan said the fire's cause was undetermined.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.

Family escapes triplex blaze