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Cause of April Shangrila fire still not known

A recent story stated that most of the fires in April were because of burn piles getting out of control. I never saw whether that was the cause of a 19-acre fire near Rogue River.

— Anonymous

We don’t know yet. Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman Brian Ballou said the investigation is ongoing and that it could be many months before a cause is nailed down.

The fire broke out the afternoon of April 21 on Shangrila Lane north of Rogue River. It burned 19 acres and was fueled by winds. A sizable contingent of firefighters and apparatus responded, including at least five fire engines, eight wildland engines, two bulldozers and three helicopters.

That fire and others recently prompted ODF’s Southwest Division, which covers Jackson and Josephine counties, to start fire season May 1, one of the earliest start dates in more than half a century.

What actually started the blaze still isn’t confirmed.

“In this case the term ‘investigation’ is fairly broad, because it may involve cost recovery claims from the state against the person who is believed to have caused the fire,” Ballou said.

Such an investigation is likely to include representatives from insurance companies, too, Ballou added. The whole investigation process could take months. In some cases, it’s taken years, he said.

“It’s for giving both parties a fair shot legally,” he said. “So the cause will not be revealed until that process has reached its conclusion.”

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.