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Passing wildland firefighter helps stop blaze

CENTRAL POINT — A 19-year-old wildland firefighter driving by a Central Point home just as a fire roared to life on an RV parked nearby leaped into action and helped put out the flames before they could spread. 

Joshua Kirkman had been driving by the home at 100 Princess Way with his fiancee just after 9:30 a.m. when he first saw smoke pouring from an area next to the home.

"I told her to hurry up and pull over because I didn't hear any sirens or anything," Kirkman said. "I got out of the car, and I just remember hearing screams. A kid was saying, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Where's my mom?'"

Kirkman first made sure everyone was out of the home, then snatched a garden hose and went to work on the flames.

"Then I smelled kerosene, and I kind of took a step back. Kerosene's hard to put out with just water, so I figured spray from the top down," Kirkman said. "Then I saw smoke coming out of the fifth wheel, so I opened the door and a wall of fire kind of came out."

He continued to spray, hitting the interior and undercarriage of the RV for good measure. Then he turned his focus to the house, spraying until he saw no smoke.

"The fire department came and relieved me of my duty, I guess," Kirkman said.

He added he doesn't consider his actions noteworthy.

"I was just doing what I was supposed to do," Kirkman said.

Jackson County Fire District 3 investigators determined that a teen boy playing with a lighter and flammable liquid inadvertently started the fire, which caused less than $5,000 damage to the RV and home.

Fire investigators said the fire was not set with the intent to injure and they deemed the fire damage was unintentional.

The boy, whose age wasn't released, was injured by the flames and was taken to a local hospital. His condition is not known, though a family member said he had burns on his arms and legs.

In a news release, District 3 spokeswoman Ashley Lara said the boy and his family will be referred to the Office of State Fire Marshal Youth Fire Prevention and Intervention Program. The program works in partnership with fire service, law enforcement, social service and school professionals to provide prevention education and interven­tion resources for youth between the age of 3 and 17 who are setting fires.

Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon logs show a report of an explosion first went out at 9:31 a.m. Lara said the agency responded with three engines. An additional engine from Medford Fire-Rescue also came to the fire, and Central Point police responded to control traffic and to provide school safety measures.

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

Joshua Kirkman, 19, an off-duty wildland firefighter who helped stop a fire Wednesday in Central Point with a garden hose, is embraced by Lynnette Banta, the neighbor of a boy who was injured in the fire. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch
Jackson County Fire District 3 firefighters clean up after an explosion and fire Wednesday outside a fifth-wheel trailer parked next to 100 Princess Way in Central Point. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch