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How the Penninger Fire got its name

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What’s in a name?

No, we’re not talking about the sweet smell of a rose, but rather something reminiscent of a stale cigar.

The “Penninger Fire” was so named because it started near Peninger Road in Central Point. Peninger Road is spelled with one “n,” but the fire’s name is spelled with two.


Various online mapping sites can’t agree on the name.

Google Maps indicates “Penninger” south of E Pine Street, and Peninger north of E Pine Street. MapQuest indicates the same, as does Apple Maps on the iPhone. Yahoo Maps spells it Peninger the entire route.

If you’re confused, you’re not alone. We were too.

So why is it “Penninger Fire?”

Chief Bob Horton with Fire District 3 chuckled at the question, saying it’s the incident commander’s responsibility to name a fire. Turns out the map the incident commander checked indicated the road was spelled “Penninger.”

Horton said it was later brought to their attention that the Sheriff's department was spelling it with one “n.” A discussion was had, and Fire District 3 will continue referring to it as the “Penninger Fire,” as will KDRV.

We called the city of Central Point and were told the name is Peninger Road on their map, and on the legends they use.

The north end of Peninger Road terminates several miles from where John and Mary Elizabeth Peninger established a farm in 1853. The Southern Oregon Historical Society said the family were prominent turkey farmers.

John and Mary moved to Oregon across the Plains in 1852 and took a donation land claim 10 miles north of Medford. A year later, Native Americans burned their property, forcing the Peninger's to move.

Now, 165 years later, the Peninger name is once again associated with fire, though with an extra “n” thrown in, thanks to technology.


Assignment Manager

A native of San Diego, Mike has been a member of the NewsWatch 12 staff since January 2018. A former member of photo staffs at The Oregonian, Los Angeles Times, and San Diego Union-Tribune, Mike has never worked beyond the left coast.

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