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Family flees apartment blaze sparked by briquettes

A family escaped unharmed from an apartment blaze sparked by charcoal briquettes that were thought to be unburned after a barbecue and put in a storage shed.

The fire was reported at 7:14 p.m. Sunday at an apartment in a complex at 1105 Stevens St.

The family of two adults and three children safely evacuated when they saw flames engulfing their back patio, Medford Fire-Rescue officials said in a news release.

Medford Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Wayne Painter said four engines and about 20 firefighters responded to reports of a structure fire that had engulfed an apartment.

The apartment was in a building with three others, but flames didn't spread to surrounding units. Firefighters and Medford police evacuated all four apartments in the building. No one was hurt.

Firefighters knocked down the fire in about 10 minutes and were on the scene an additional hour mopping up hot spots.

Investigators on Monday determined that charcoal briquettes stored in a storage unit on the back patio caused the fire. The resident mistakenly thought the briquettes were unburned and put them back in the original bag and stored them for later, the news release said.

The fire caused an estimated $40,000 in damage to the four-plex building, which is valued at nearly $300,000, and its contents, fire investigators said in a news release.

The Medford Rogue Rotary Club will team up with Southern Oregon Brewing Company and the Sunrise Café to host a Pints For Polio fundraiser from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24. The event will be held in the Southern Oregon Brewery Taproom, 1922 United Way, located west of Crater Lake Avenue, behind Lava Lanes.

The brewery and cafe will donate 50 percent of all beer and food sales to the Rotary effort to eradicate polio.

Ron Brown of KDRV-TV will discuss his TV news career in a brown bag talk at noon Wednesday, Oct. 24, at Temple Emek Shalom, 180 E. Main St., Ashland. The meeting is free and open to the public.

Brown joined KDRV as its first anchor of Newswatch 12's "This Morning" show in 1986, and has covered news stories from Northern California and Southern Oregon to Vietnam and Russia.