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1 hospitalized, 2 cats perish in 3-alarm fire

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One person with respiratory issues was hospitalized and two cats died in a three-alarm fire at an east Medford apartment Friday afternoon.

The resident was rescued by ladder truck after fire broke on the third floor of a Valley Pines apartment building at 649 Royal Ave., according to Medford Fire-Rescue and Medford police officials. A second occupant made it out unassisted.

Within four minutes after the fire was reported at 2:07 p.m., Medford Fire-Rescue and Medford police were on scene, according to Medford Battalion Chief Erin Sawall, who served as the incident commander. Jackson County Fire District 3 and Jacksonville Fire Department weren’t far behind.

A tenant of the apartment complex said the patio areas between the second and third floors were “engulfed in flames.” As the flames spread to another unit and threatened others, five Medford officers rushed toward the building and began evacuations, a Medford police release said.

The resident who was rescued by ladder truck suffers from COPD and was transported via Mercy Flights, according to Medford Deputy Fire Marshal Justin Bates. At least three other residents in the complex were checked for smoke-related injuries but declined ambulances, Bates said.

Medford police Officer Rob Havice and Detective Shannon Reynolds rescued one of the cats from the smoky building and it was rushed to a nearby emergency veterinary clinic by a community service officer, but the cat died of its injuries. A second cat rushed to the clinic by a tenant also died, according to Bates and Sawall.

The fire briefly reached three-alarm status, drawing eight engines from Medford, District 3 and Jacksonville Fire. By 2:30 p.m., the fire had been largely knocked down.

“A good team effort by all parties,” Sawall said. “We were quite lucky.”

The fire apparently started on the top floor and spread to the second floor, according to Sawall. The fire’s exact cause is not yet known.

Medford Fire-Rescue Chief Brian Fish said the investigation would begin once the fire was entirely extinguished. As of about 3:30 p.m., crews were still battling occasional flare-ups on the second-story balcony.

Royal Avenue was closed while crews battled the flames, but reopened just after 3:15 p.m.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

Mail Tribune photo
Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Firefighters work to put a fire at Valley Pines on Royal Avenue in Medford.
Photos by Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneFirefighters battle an apartment fire that broke out on the third floor of Valley Pines on Royal Avenue in Medford Friday afternoon.
Mail Tribune photo