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Mail Tribune 100, July 19, 1921

The following news items were drawn from the archives of the Mail Tribune 100 years ago
July 19, 1921

Grass Fire Destroys Residence at Loss of $5,000, Partly Covered by Insurance — Lowe Family Declare Airplane Caused Blaze

A short time after the airplane from Eugene on its daily patrol trip had landed at Barber field Monday noon between 12 and 1 o’clock the foxtail in the field of the D. M. Lowe ranch adjoining the aviation field blazed up, spread rapidly and despite all efforts communicated to the fine two-story Lowe home 400 yards south of Barber field and completely destroyed it, along with the lumber from a dismantled dwelling standing closer to the aviation field, and several outbuildings, also an acre of growing barley, and several shocks of vetch. A strong breeze was blowing at the time.

When the fire began spreading the city department was notified by phone and Chief Lawton and Fireman Kaufman hurried to the scene with the chemical apparatus, and in the meantime the members of the Lowe family and the men from the aviation field formed a bucket and wet sack brigade, and with backfiring methods tried to head off the flames from extending to the outbuildings, dwelling and barn, and from spreading through the wheat stubble field where much wheat stood in shock.

The barn and wheat shocks were saved by the volunteers and the Medford chemical apparatus, and the spreading grass fire was finally controlled.

The dwelling house was valued at $5,000, having been well built with a fine interior finish, and Mr. Lowe thinks it is insured for from $2,000 to $30,00. He estimates the loss on the lumber of the dismantled house, which was to be used in building a bungalow further away on the ranch at from $400 to $500, and does not regard the loss of the acre of barley and the shocks of vetch as amounting to much.

Mr. Lowe and family have been camping beside the dwelling burned down since the middle of May, and had not yet brought down the furniture from their Valley View ranch. However Mr. Lowe had several suits of new clothes hanging in the upper part of the house, and Mrs. Lowe also had some of her personal effects in the building. Mr. Lowe also lost a fine Winchester rifle which he had won from a champion in a marksmanship contest years ago.

The members of the Lowe family are a unit in their belief that the grass fire was started by a plane when it was just about to land. Mrs. Lowe and her son were watching the plane which in landing crossed over the ranch to the east, and just before entering the aviation field dipped low and as it started to rise again let out a puff from its exhaust and then landed on Barber field. A moment or so later they saw the foxtail on fire and coming rapidly their way.

Lieutenant Carter in command at Barber field scoffs at the idea of the fire having been started from the landing plane. He says that he cannot conceive of such a thing having happened in view of all his aviation experience and knowledge. He says further that the fire, his men informed him, started fifty feet away from where the plane had crossed over onto Barber field.

Alissa Corman; acorman@rosebudmedia.com