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Fire investigators: Two White City fires unrelated

WHITE CITY — Two fires this week that destroyed structures and vehicles were in close proximity and occurred less than 90 minutes apart, but fire officials are confident there's no link.

“It was a little suspicious in the beginning because they were called in by the same person, but totally unrelated,” said Jackson County Fire District 3 spokeswoman Ashley Lara, adding the caller was a neighbor who just happened to witness both because of their relatively close proximity.

The first fire was reported at 10:53 p.m. Wednesday at 5875 Beagle Road. Less than 90 minutes later, at 12:20 a.m. Thursday, a second fire roared to life at 16664 Jones Road.

The Jones Road fire, which burned a vacant mobile home, was caused by a water heater that overheated, fire officials said. It caused $40,000 in damage and was deemed accidental by the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office. That fire drew units from Fire District 3, the Oregon Department of Forestry and Medford Fire-Rescue.

The Beagle Road fire raged less than three miles away. Its cause remains undetermined, though fire investigators believe it began in a shop on the property.

Beagle Road property owner Jeff Wolfard was in the shower when he noticed flickering lights and a drop in water pressure. Then he saw a red glow outside. He made it out of the house safely, but the flames destroyed his shop, barn and outbuilding, along with two vehicles, two travel trailers and a wealth of tools. Crews from Fire District 3 and Medford Fire-Rescue were able to save some vehicles on the property. Wolfard said he planned to start a mechanic's business with his son, and had been preparing to insure his tools just before the fire broke out.

Fire investigators since have installed smoke alarms at the Beagle Road home, because they found no working units during their initial investigation.

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