Fire season officially starts today, but firefighters battled two blazes Wednesday — one destroying a home on Sherman Street and the other consuming an acre of grass on East Valley View Road just outside Ashland.
"I sure hope this isn't an introduction to fire season," said Chris Chambers, Ashland Fire & Rescue's forest resource specialist. "Fires do seem to come in these clusters, for whatever reason."
A fire that started in a closet at 4:30 p.m. spread throughout a one-story home at 166 Sherman St., a block north from Siskiyou Boulevard.
Marty Rush lived at the home with his unidentified wife and teenage son, who was home alone at the time of the blaze and escaped uninjured.
The family sat on their neighbor's steps Wednesday evening, watching the steps of their home blacken as smoke curled out their front door.
"We're in still shock," Rush said, declining to comment further.
The home was a total loss, Chambers said. The Red Cross is assisting the family with finding housing.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, Chambers said.
Ashland Fire & Rescue responded to the blaze, located only a few blocks from the downtown fire station.
"When we arrived, there was smoke coming out the front door and, basically the house was fully involved (in the fire)," Chambers said.
Jackson County Fire District 5 was called in to assist in fighting the blaze.
By 5:30 p.m. the fire was controlled.
Fire crews planned to check on the home through the night to make sure hotspots didn't flare up, Chambers said.
The blaze threatened the homes adjacent to it, but did not spread, he said.
"Had it been a hotter and a windier day, and had the location been a little bit further, that would have definitely been more of a concern," he said.
Sabrina Carey saw the smoke from her workplace, Attorney David Seulean's office on Siskiyou Boulevard.
"How horrible," she said, watching as the blaze consumed the home. "I'm just glad everyone got out OK. And thank God, the other houses don't seem to be touched at all. I've worked here for nine years, so this is my neighborhood, too."
Ashland's Community Emergency Response Team assisted firefighters in closing a portion of Sherman Street during the incident. "It's terribly sad for the family and you can see the neighbors are in tears as well," said CERT volunteer Carol Rosin, who lives nearby. "We're a very close community in Ashland, which is why so many of us volunteer to help."
Earlier Wednesday, the same crews battled a one-acre grass fire in the 200 block of Meyers Creek Road, off East Valley View Road, between Ashland and Talent.
The fire began at 1:30 p.m. and was controlled just before 2 p.m., said Fire District 5 Capt. Larry Decker.
He doesn't believe the fire was caused by fireworks, but the exact cause of the blaze is under investigation, he said.
Ashland Fire & Rescue and the Oregon Department of Forestry were called in to help fight the fire, because officials were concerned it could spread to a nearby home, barn and the surrounding countryside, Decker said.
"Even though fire season does start until tomorrow it's really dry in the hills because of all the heat," he said Wednesday evening. "The hills have dried out really quickly."
Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-482-3456 ext. 226 or email@example.com.