MEDFORD, Ore. – A woman was able to escape safely from a fire that burned part of her house in Medford early Tuesday. It was the 10th confirmed arson in the past week, and police think a total of 14 suspicious fires since June may have been committed by the same person.
Tuesday’s fire occurred about 4 a.m. at a home on South Grape Street. Medford Police said the fire was started outside a detached garage near an alley, then spread to the back of the house. The woman living inside was woken up by crackling and popping sounds from the fire, and quickly got out. Firefighters and police were already on scene when she got out the door. She was not injured.
Police immediately suspected the fire was linked to eight previous arson fires in Medford since July 9th. As officers fanned out to look for a suspect, one officer found a second small fire a few blocks away in the same alley. That officer was able to quickly put out the flames using a fire extinguisher.
Tuesday’s two fires make a total of 10 confirmed arson fires in the past week, and it was the first fire in that span to target a house.
“It’s very concerning that we have this arsonist out there that’s now targeting homes that are occupied,” said Medford Police Lt. Mike Budreau. “Somebody could easily sleep through a fire and be injured or even worse.”
Including those confirmed arson fires, police said a total of 14 suspicious fires have been investigated since late June, including a fire that destroyed a warehouse on Fir Street on June 25th, and an apartment fire on Holly Street on July 9th. Police said all 14 are likely linked, because they have several similarities – many were set late at night or early in the morning, the fires were set on the outside of the building, and many fires were set at buildings near alleys in west Medford.
No arrests have been made in any of the cases.
Police said people who live in homes near alleys should keep an eye out for anything suspicious. If they notice anything out of order or anyone who shouldn’t be there, they are asked to call 911.