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Family grateful for kindness of strangers after fire

A Medford family is living in a hotel after losing their home and nearly everything they owned in a fire, but there’s hope they found a place to land.

Rebecca Laughlin, who lived at 75 Lozier Lane for 13 years before the house near Sherm’s Thunderbird Market was rendered uninhabitable Wednesday, said she’s grateful for the two dogs, one cat and two urns that survived the fire, and for the outpouring of kindness from strangers.

“I used to think we didn’t have that anymore,” Laughlin said.

If it weren’t for a neighbor she knows only by the first name of Sergio, Laughlin believes that her son, daughter-in-law and 19-month-old grandson may not have walked away from the fire. The man saw the fire burning outside shortly before noon and pounded on doors and windows to get someone’s attention.

“If it wasn’t for him, they wouldn’t have made it,” Laughlin said. “He saved them.”

Her son, his girlfriend and the child had only enough time to escape with the clothes on their back.

The cause of the fire was still pending, but the blaze was first reported as a couch on fire outside the house that spread to the attic.

The Salvation Army, along with friends and strangers, brought changes of clothes, according to Laughlin, and a neighbor down the street brought diapers and baby supplies for the child.

For the first couple nights they stayed at a motel in Medford, but are now staying at the Rogue Regency Inn after the hotel reached out and offered a comparable rate. Laughlin said she may have a place by Monday, but the deal wasn’t quite sealed yet.

Laughlin said all of her pets — a cat and two dogs — escaped the fire unhurt. She said she was especially scared for her blind 13-year-old dachshund, but neighbors found the old dog and a puppy late Wednesday afternoon.

“They’re a part of my family,” she said.

The older dog is especially important to Laughlin because the pet belonged to her father.

Laughlin said the house on Lozier Lane was where she cared for her father until he passed away in 2012, as well as where she cared for her mother for four years until she passed away in 2017.

The urns she kept in the living room had some smoke damage, but are otherwise OK.

Laughlin said she, her son and his girlfriend are blown away by how people keep stepping up to help with even the small problems that followed the fire. For instance, Laughlin said Thursday night it can be tough getting ready for her job as a caregiver without the curling irons and blow dryers she’s used to using, but by Friday afternoon strangers had helped replace the beauty tools.

On Sunday, a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign arranged by Laughlin’s daughter, Desiree McDaniel of Napa, California, had raised $1,350 toward a $5,000 goal. (see www.gofundme.com/f/house-fire-displaces-family-of-4)

“Everybody’s coming together something wonderful,” Laughlin said. “People have been amazing.”

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

A Medford firefighter talks to Rebecca Laughlin at the scene of the fire Wednesday near Sherm's Thunderbird that destroyed most of her and her family's belongings. Mail Tribune file photo / Andy Atkinson.
Firefighters work to put out the house fire Wednesday off Lozier Lane in Medford. Mail Tribune file photo / Andy Atkinson.