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Fire guts Crowson Road home

For the second time in a month smoke from an out-of-control structure fire bellowed above south Ashland.

Fire crews using 10 fire engines and three water tenders Monday afternoon responded to the blaze at 488 Crowson Road, which spread to a nearby grass field, but was stamped out before burning an acre, Jackson County Fire District No. 5 Fire Chief Dan Marshall said.

"The house was engulfed when crews arrived," Marshall said. "They saw the column in route from our station on Neil Creek Road and called a second alarm."

Firefighters responded to a report of a structure fire a few minute before 2:30 p.m., Marshall said, and had the inferno mostly knocked down about 45 minutes later.

Smoke poured hundreds of feet into the air, and flames licked 10 feet above the roof of the home, which sits about 200 feet east of Interstate 5, surrounded by conifers, which survived the heat.

In a business complex on Benson Way, just across Crowson Road from the home the burned Monday, an explosion and ensuing fire gutted Alchemical Solutions' headquarters July 13.

Wildland firefighters with the Oregon Department of Forestry attacked Monday's grass fire from the northbound lanes of I-5, forcing traffic into one lane for a short distance and time, Marshall said.

The single-story home is a rental, and its occupants were in the process of moving out, current renter 43-year-old Laura Leonard said. Most of their belongings were already out of the house.

No one was home when the fire started, Marshall said. The cause of the fire is under investigation, he said.

"We are going to be OK," Leonard said. "That's what is most important."

Early reports that someone was trapped inside the home were later refuted.

A half dozen engines from Ashland Fire-Rescue and Jackson County Fire District No. 5 were supported by three water tenders and an engine from Medford Fire District fighting the structure fire.

Triple digit temperatures didn't make fighting the blaze easy for firefighters in full gear, who poured sweat after being relieved by a fresh crew. About 35 personnel were on scene, Marshall said.

The section of Crowson Road between its intersections with Oak Knoll Drive and Benson Way was closed for more than two hours.

"We probably saved 50 percent of the structure from the standpoint that it's not on the ground," Marshall said. "It's likely a total loss."

The fire burned intensely throughout the home, he said.

Tyler Stanley, 24, and David Morgan, 26, were spraying the roof, deck, and yard of their home with garden hoses as the fire raged across the street.

"We're one of the closest houses to it!" Stanley said, who didn't know the tenants.

Neither of the men saw the flames until investigating the sound of sirens closing in on their neighborhood, they said.

"You can't be too careful in this neighborhood," Morgan said, having just finished turning on the sprinkler in the back yard.

The 2010 Oak Knoll Fire destroyed 11 homes in the area.

"We got lot of resources on it quickly, and got a quick knockdown on the house and kept the wildfire from spreading," Marshall said. "Our goal during this time of the year is to get as many resources on it as possible."

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email swheeler@dailytidings.com.