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Investigation of Stewart Market fire ongoing

Medford Fire-Rescue is still trying to determine the cause of a blaze Sunday that destroyed Stewart Market in west Medford.

The market is at 1145 Lozier Lane, at the intersection of Lozier and West Stewart Avenue. Nearly three dozen firefighters from Medford, Jacksonville and Jackson County worked to extinguish the blaze, first just after 6 a.m., then a few hours later when the fire started back up.

Traffic in the area was diverted when both Lozier Lane and Stewart Avenue were closed.

Electricity was shut off for about 90 minutes to more than 2,400 customers during the second response. A Pacific Power representative said the utility will turn off electricity at the request of first responders so they can do their jobs without the added risk of electric shock.

After initial interviews and observations, it has been determined the fire likely began in the northeast corner of the building, an area used for storage, said Deputy Fire Marshal Tanner Fairrington.

The site was still considered unsafe to enter for further investigation because the structure partially collapsed as a result of the fire, Fairrington said.

“It was a fairly old building,” he said.

It has been the site of a convenience store for years. The cement block construction is common throughout the Northwest, Fairrington said.

According to Jackson County assessor documents, the building has been on the tax rolls since at least 1940. The market and a neighboring residential structure at 1135 Lozier Lane were listed on the county assessor’s pages as having been sold in August of 2020.

The fire department expects to be working alongside an insurance investigator representing the owner of the property, JDSP Stewart Inc.

“It’s always a process,” Fairrington said about investigating such fires.

The fire department has an interest in finding out what causes all fires to help reduce the likelihood of similar fires occurring in the future, no matter whether they are structure, wild land or other types, he said.

Commercial properties are inspected because of the potential risks to public safety. These structures are subject to inspections — and other regulations — depending on what occurs at a specific business.

The inspections and regulations targeting commercial structures result in the fire risk being lower than for residential dwellings.

“The cause of fires in most residential buildings? Cooking fires,” he explained.

The findings could require weeks or months of investigation. The fire department commonly announces results of investigations on social media, Fairrington added.

Reach reporter Terri Harber at tharber@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4468.