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Crews extinguish second grass fire near Exit 30

For the second time in as many days, a grass fire struck the Bear Creek Greenway near the north Medford freeway exit.

Deputy Fire Marshal Justin Bates said it’s not immediately known whether the new grass fire reported late Friday afternoon along the bike path is a flare-up from the 3.5 acre grass fire that closed freeway on- and off-ramps for several hours Thursday, or a new fire linked to transients spotted fleeing the area.

The new fire had been knocked down as of 5:30 p.m. Friday, Bates said.

Fire investigators were unable to determine a definitive cause in Thursday evening’s grass fire, which reached two-alarm status and prompted the closures of southbound Interstate 5 ramps, but Bates described transient activity as a likely factor. Transients were seen leaving the area as Medford Fire-Rescue and Oregon Department of Forestry were coming on scene, according to Bates.

Medford police said witnesses reportedly told investigators that the fire started in multiple locations along the bike path, and police indicated arson as a likely cause. Bates, however, said it’s inconclusive whether the fire started because of arson or possible transient cooking fires in the area. The fire's cause is officially listed as "undetermined," Bates said.

Mail Tribune file photo of a grass fire near Exit 30 from 2015.