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Fire damages Medford home, kills pet birds

An early afternoon fire Sunday caused about &

36;150,000 damage to a house in the 1100 block of Oak Grove Road and killed a number of pet birds.

Occupants of the house smelled smoke coming from a back bedroom, said Dan Petersen, battalion chief for the Medford Fire Department. They found a bed on fire and tried to douse the flames with a garden hose, but failed and called 9-1-1 for assistance.

Petersen said firefighters saw flames in two windows and an attic space when they arrived. Soon after they entered the building there was a loud explosion inside, which prompted firefighters to withdraw briefly to make sure no one was injured.

It gave us a good scare, Petersen said.

Firefighters later discovered the explosion was caused by a metal oxygen bottle that was stored in the bedroom where the fire broke out. The heat of the fire warmed the compressed gas, which caused it to expand.

The pressure was too much for the bottle, Petersen said.

— A second oxygen bottle failed but did not explode, and a third remained intact.

Petersen said the birds that died were in cages inside the house. A number of birds that live in a backyard aviary were unharmed. Three cats that live with the occupants were missing, but Petersen said they may have fled when the fire broke out.

Twenty firefighters and six engines were dispatched to the fire.

Pedersen said the house, which was built in 1963, was valued at about &

36;300,000. Fire investigators searched the bedroom where the fire broke out until around dark Sunday, but did not immediately find the cause of the fire.