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Home destroyed during birthday party

The home, at 4395 Pioneer Road near Medford, was a total loss, fire officials said. [Photo courtesy of Jackson County Fire District No. 5]
The Wilcox, Williams, McNeil blended family lost their home and possessions Monday in a fire that spread to a quarter-acre. [courtesy photo]
The family lost their pets and possessions in the Monday afternoon blaze

A Medford mother is counting her blessings in the aftermath of a fire that destroyed her home Monday but left her family unhurt.

Misty Williams said she’s grateful for family that have given her a place to stay, as well as the community’s outpouring of support in the aftermath of a fire that ignited early Monday evening at 4395 Pioneer Road near Medford — ravaging the home she shared with her fiance and blended family of five kids.

Williams said she and the rest of her family had left to celebrate her daughter’s Sweet 16 birthday at a pizza place. About 10 minutes later, a neighbor called with news of the fire.

“I was just extremely grateful my kids were out of the house,” Williams said. “My family was out.”

Steve Maziarski, Jackson County Fire District No. 5 battalion chief, said the home is “a total loss.”

Fire District 5, Ashland Fire & Rescue and Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest District crews arrived on scene to find the home fully involved and extending to vehicles, cargo containers, equipment and vegetation on the property, according to an update with photos from Fire District 5. The fire spread to a quarter-acre before crews got it under control.

Hampering the firefight was an unauthorized drone operated in the area during the fire that forced ODF to send away a helicopter called in to drop buckets of water on the blaze.

Firefighters were on scene until 2 a.m. Tuesday, according to the fire department.

The cause is still under investigation. According to Maziarski, Fire District 5 handed off the fire investigation to the Oregon State Fire Marshal.

“We always try to get a second set of eyes on it,” Maziarski said.

Maziarski said he’s uncertain whether they’ll determine what exactly caused the fire because damage to the structure was so extensive.

As of Tuesday, a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign organized by Williams’ daughter Shelby McNeil had raised $8,265 as of Tuesday afternoon.

“My siblings lost all of their toys, their pets and huge parts of their childhoods. ... I want to support my family through this time by spreading love and raising whatever I can,” McNeil wrote in the campaign’s description.

When reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Williams said she's grateful to have a community that’s reaching out to help her and her family during this time.

“The outpouring of giving is overwhelming,” Williams said. “It’s humbling, and we’re just all very thankful.”

Williams said she has a place to stay with family, and she’s heard from so many friends and relatives in the past day and she’s hardly sure what to ask of them.

“We are getting our needs met,” Williams said. “Just the feeling of the community rallying around us to support our family is what the best feeling is.”

“At the end of the day, that’s what matters,” Williams added.

Find the family’s crowdfunding campaign at gofundme.com/f/the-wilcox-williams-mcneil-family.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.