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Single resident will face charges in Medford fire

Police are only charging one man in conjunction with the Medford house fire Saturday allegedly caused by a bathroom hashish manufacturing operation gone wrong.

Police cited Clayton Morgan, 27, with felony charges of manufacturing a controlled substance, third-degree assault, reckless burning and criminal mischief.

Morgan also was charged with seven counts of reckless endangerment, to account for the seven other people inside the 655 Pine St. home.

Morgan and a 23-year-old woman suffered fairly severe burns from the fire, but police determined that only Morgan should be charged.

"The woman's involvement if any was miniscule," said Sgt. Tom Ianieri of the Medford Police Department.

Morgan and the female were transported to local hospitals for burns sustained Saturday morning when an electric heater kicked on and ignited butane gas Morgan was using to make hashish, police said.

Ianieri said that police initially were under the impression Morgan might be transferred from Rogue Valley Medical Center to a Portland hospital for his burns, so police decided to cite him for his charges then, rather than waiting and making an arrest.

An RVMC spokesman said Morgan was released from the hospital late Saturday afternoon.

Ianieri said a court date has been set for Morgan and that if he doesn't appear, a warrant will be issued for his arrest.

Because police have not released the name of the other woman who went to the hospital, her condition is unknown.

Also in the building at the time of the fire were Morgan's girlfriend, Nicole Muhlnickel, 27, her two children, ages 1 and 6, and three people renting the top floor of the home.

Representatives from the Medford Fire Department said that all of their information was turned over to a fire investigator, and they had no updates Sunday evening about the extent of the damage to the house or whether residents were allowed to return after the fire.

"The actual room is black, and that's about all I can tell you," Ianieri said of the fire damage.

Ianieri said that he's encountered hashish a fair amount during his time with the Medford police, but has never seen someone try to manufacture it in a bathtub the way that Morgan allegedly attempted.

According to various websites, hashish consists of the THC-rich, resin of the cannabis plant, after being dried and compressed. Heat can be used to compress the hashish.

"There is hash around but I've never run into the way we did (Saturday)," Ianieri said.

Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or tristow@mailtribune.com.