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Investigators: Fatal house fire intentionally set, but not 'criminal in nature'

A woman killed in a Sunday-night house fire in Central Point apparently set the fire herself, police said.

Medford Fire-Rescue Fire Marshal Greg Kleinberg said an investigation showed accelerants were present in the home of Debra Forsyth, 61, and that the fire likely started in the dining area. The home is in the 400 block of East Vilas Road.

"There were ignitable liquids throughout the house," Kleinberg said.

Medford police said they don't know why it was set, but they believe the fire was "not criminal in nature," according to a release. 

"We don't completely know the motivations behind it," said Medford police Lt. Kerry Curtis.

The exact cause of Forsyth's death is still under investigation by the Jackson County medical examiner.

The fire was reported at 10:20 p.m. Sunday by a passing motorist who saw the glow of flames coming off the house. Crews from Medford Fire-Rescue and Jackson County Fire District 3 could see flames shooting out the back when they arrived. Firefighters had flames knocked down in about 30 minutes. Forsyth was found dead in her bedroom.

Fire officials said Forsyth had been in the process of being evicted from the property, which was a rental, as the owners had wanted to expand. The owners deemed the house a safety hazard after the fire and demolished it, Kleinberg said.

Family members have said they remember Forsyth as a caring woman and mother who loved animals. The two dogs she owned had been taken to another location about a week before the fire and were not in the house when it broke out, Kleinberg said.

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

Medford Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief and Fire Marshal Greg Kleinberg investigates the cause Monday of a Sunday-night house fire on East Vilas Road where a woman died. Mail Tribune / Denise Baratta