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Arson suspected in fire at Medford park

What sounded like an explosion awoke residents near Lone Pine Park just after 3 a.m. Tuesday when the park's cement public bathroom caught fire.

Medford police said the fire was set intentionally with an accelerant. Because the structure is made of cement, the fire caused only minor damage.

"Luckily, it didn't ignite," said Medford police Sgt. Mike Budreau. "It just burned itself out."

No one was hurt.

Budreau said the structure looks like it's made of wood, leading police to suspect the perpetrators intended to burn it down.

"Some of the people who do arsons, they are driven by watching stuff burn," Budreau said.

Neighbors said they saw a silver compact car, possibly a Honda or Toyota, leaving the scene, but weren't able to get a license-plate number.

This is the second suspected arson in two weeks, police said.

Police also suspect a fire that gutted part of a West 12th Street duplex early on Sept. 27 was arson.

The fire started in a shed and spread into the duplex's attic and interior. Fire investigators have ruled out common causes of accidental fires, such as electrical problems, Budreau said. Police have interviewed a "person of interest," and Budreau said the unnamed individual has been cooperating during the investigation.

Police don't yet know whether the two suspicious fires are related, but gang activity is not believed to have played a part in either, he said.

"The question is, are we dealing with an arsonist or kids making bad decisions?" Budreau said.

Anyone with information on either incident is asked to call the Medford Police Department at 541-774-2200.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at rpfeil@mailtribune.com.