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Special gun checks garage fire

Firefighters use infrared sensor to knock down flames before they spread into Central Point home

CENTRAL POINT ' Firefighters armed with a special heat-seeking gun were able to beat down a Monday afternoon garage fire before it spread into a rural Central Point home, authorities said.

An infrared sensor aimed at 2803 Larch Ave. showed that flames were rolling between the sheet rock and the 2-by-4s between the attached garage and the wooden, one-story house, said firefighter Phil Cardinal of Jackson County Fire District No. 3.

So Cardinal and five other firefighters dragged their snaking water hoses through three interior doors before launching a direct assault at the flames just as they readied to burst into the home.

That's the only way we kept it from getting into the home, Cardinal said. Without that gun, we would have had to chop holes all over just to find it.

No one was injured in the two-alarm blaze at the York family home, which drew firefighters from Medford to assist. The owners, Bill and Donna York, were not home at the time, but their daughter and three grandchildren were.

The fire apparently ignited in the shop area of the L-shaped home, then spread into the adjacent two-car garage that also is attached to the house, district Deputy Marshal Mark Moran said.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation, with inspectors likely to look first at electrical wiring in the shop area, Moran said. Some circuit breakers were tripped in the house's main electrical panel, but it was too early to tell if that was a likely cause, he said.

We'll need the light of day to sift through this, Moran said.

The house suffered smoke and some minor heat damage, but no financial loss was available Monday night, Moran said.

Tammy York was in the home with her three children, including a 2-month-old infant, when she looked out the window and saw smoke rising from the shop area, she said.

It was just a little fire in a laundry hamper and some other things, but there are propane tanks back there, she said. So I grabbed the kids, ran out and called the fire department.

The family ' with Tammy York in stockings and her son Ian barefoot ' stood nearby as the small fire crawled into the garage before blowing up in a cauldron of flames and smoke that could be seen for miles in the clear Rogue Valley afternoon.

When firefighters arrived, they could see the garage and shop engulfed, but quickly realized from the heat-sensor readings that they needed to attack through the home to save it, Moran said.

It shows right where the concentrated heat pockets are, Moran said of the infrared gun. That thing is a life-saver.

A shop fire at a Larch Avenue home in Central Point spread to an adjacent garage, but firefighters stopped it there. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli