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Medford Fire-Rescue responds to same fire scene twice overnight

Medford Fire-Rescue responded to a fire scene twice overnight, first to knock down a quarter-acre grass fire, the return trip to douse a tree that had ignited after the fact, according to fire officials.

Firefighters first responded at 10:34 p.m. Tuesday at a homeless camp along the Bear Creek Greenway near the 800 block of North Riverside Avenue, according to dispatch records.

“Where it was located, down through the fences and bushes, it took us a while to get back in there,” said Medford Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Jason John.

Two engines and a brush truck responded, along with a contingent of 11 firefighters, John said. Crews had the blaze knocked down in about 20 minutes. They utilized a deck gun, a high-pressure water cannon that can be aimed at flames from a distance, and hoses.

The fire was primarily contained to the camp, which sustained heavy damage. Some of the items on scene that fueled the blaze included stacks of wooden pallets, old tires and tents, John said. Some of the materials are utilized to build structures, he added.

“Those things, particularly tires, put off a bunch of smoke and heat,” John said. “Pallets, too.”

Firefighters found no occupants of the campsite at the scene, John said. No injuries were reported.

Crews returned to the scene at 1:58 a.m. Wednesday to put out a cottonwood tree that was burning.

“Those things are really problematic when we have these Greenway fires,” John said. “They go up, and they split, and they create these pockets where those little white cotton balls you see floating around right now ... those things create giant piles, and they’re highly flammable. Highly, highly flammable. And these trees, they burn in all these little pockets.”

“It got life breathed back into it with some wind and was dropping some embers,” he added.

Crews doused the tree with foam to put the fire out. They spent just under an hour on scene. The tree has since been declared a hazard and will likely be removed.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation.

Reach Mail Tribune web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanpfeil.