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Heat lamp fills Ashland home with smoke

ASHLAND – A terrarium heat lamp ignited a slow-burning fire Saturday that wasn't noticed until neighbors spotted smoke pouring from the house Sunday morning.

The fire burned through the floor, subflooring and into the crawl space, but its growth was limited because fuels were absent, firefighters said.

"We're not sure when it started, but it didn't find anything accessible to burn. It just burned down into the floor joists and the flooring," Battalion Chief Dana Sallee said. "Had there been something around it, carpet, a couch or draperies, we would've had a substantial structure fire (Saturday) night not (Sunday) morning."

Three engines from Ashland and Jackson County Fire District No. 5 responded shortly after 7:30 a.m. with Medford providing mutual aid. Firefighters arrived at a single-story residence with no one at home on the 300 Block of Idaho Street to find light smoke pouring out of the house, After cutting through four inches of flooring, it took about 10 minutes to douse the flames in the living room, about 10 to 15 feet from the front door.

Sallee said it was unclear how the heat lamp fell to the floor. The fire smoldered hours prior to burning into the flooring. Sallee said the fire's diameter was 18 to 24 inches, but a 4- by 10-foot section of the floor was removed to prevent possible reignition.

It was unclear how long the home's occupants had been away.

Two lizards and nearby fish survived unscathed. The house, however, will not be safe to occupy until it is repaired, Sallee said. In addition to extensive smoke damage, he estimated the structural damage was between $5,000 and $10,000. He said the house's smoke alarm was sounding when firefighters arrived.