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Woman charged with arson in Medford house fire

The resident of a Medford home damaged in a two-house blaze Feb. 20 is now suspected of starting the fire.

Susan Diane Garred, 56, was lodged in the Jackson County Jail Tuesday on a charge of first-degree arson. She was arraigned Wednesday in Jackson County Circuit Court, where her bail was set at $100,000, according to court records.

Garred was taken to jail after she was released from Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, where she had been treated for smoke inhalation and had been placed on a mental hold after the fire. The blaze started in her home at 935 Village Circle and spread to the home next-door, causing significant damage to both.

Investigators determined the fire started when a towel was left on top of an electric stovetop that had been turned on. Medford police said further investigation revealed a separate ignition source in the home, though they declined to provide specifics.

"We do not believe this was accidental," Medford police Detective Sgt. Brent Mak said. "There was definitely a second ignition location."

Garred appears to have no previous criminal history in Oregon. County and court records show she owns her home, is current on her taxes and has not had any small claims against her. She is registered with the state as owner of Garred Design Inc., a graphic design and marketing company she runs out of her home. Her website, garreddesign.com, lists past clients as Pacific Retirement Services, La Clinica, Kaleidoscope Pizza, Providence Medford Medical Center and the Asante Foundation. Her LinkedIn profile also details several awards Garred Design has won.

The fire was first reported at 8:40 a.m. Feb. 20. A 911 caller said a woman claimed her husband was inside the home at 935 Village Circle in east Medford and started the fire. Seven engine companies from Medford Fire-Rescue and Jackson County fire districts 3 and 5 responded, along with police.

When firefighters entered the burning home, the woman's claim turned out to be false, Medford Fire Marshal Greg Kleinberg said. One firefighter burned his knee on the hot carpet; another firefighter fell through the floor of the single-story home but was uninjured, Kleinberg said.

The fire spread to the home at 939 Village Circle, where the lone woman inside escaped without injury. The fire caused about $200,000 in damage to Garred's home and $100,000 to the home next-door, fire officials said.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.

Susan Diane Garred