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Teen allegedly behind fire caught

Police have captured a man believed to have intentionally set a fire two weeks ago that destroyed a large vacant home on Crews Road near the Rogue Valley Mall.

Story Lee Wood, 17, was charged with first-degree arson and remained lodged late Friday in the Jackson County Jail. He was held in lieu of $1 million bail.

Wood, who is a transient and a juvenile, was remanded to adult court because of his previous criminal history, police said.

The house at 1059 Crews Road near the Salvation Army has long been a popular destination for homeless squatters, who took refuge in the home and several smaller outbuildings nearby, neighbors said.

People were often seen carrying alcohol and portable camping stoves into the house, one neighbor said.

The home is owned by the Salvation Army, which intended to level it to make room for transitional housing for people who lose their homes.

The organization has wanted to develop the property for quite some time, requesting permission to tear down the home and the outbuildings numerous times. However, a lawsuit with the previous owner halted any progress.

The fire, which occured March 7, was large and threatened several nearby homes. Flames shot high into the air above the home and were visible from Riverside Avenue.

Neighbors said they had to spray down their condos for fear the blaze would spread to their homes.

The blaze left a deep pit filled with debris that posed a hazard to neighborhood residents. The Salvation Army has since cleaned up the area to make room for the four-plex units.

Medford detectives are seeking additional information about the case. They can be reached at 774-2230.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.