Crews stop blaze, but fish (and tank) are toast

The longtime inhabitants of the saltwater aquarium at a Lithia Motors paint and body shop near the Medford airport are no more.

A late-night fire that started in the electrical system of the tank at the Lithia Paint & Body Shop on Bullock Road claimed a handful of crustaceans and colorful fish.

A lobster, hermit crabs, shrimp and sailfin tang and damsel fish succumbed to soot falling on their tank in the 11:30 p.m. Sunday blaze, said Medford Fire Marshal Greg Kleinberg.

Medford firefighters responded with three engines, and Fire District 3 sent another, but crews were unable to save the inhabitants of the 13-year-old fish tank.

The good news, said Kleinberg, was that the building's sprinkler system kept the fire from spreading.

"Potentially over a million dollars of damage was avoided," Kleinberg said.

Lithia Body Shop Manager Steve Potter the aquarium "has been here since we opened and it's been through several ecological changes." Potter said the aquarium will not be replaced.

Minus its lobby furniture, the shop near the Medford airport opened on time this morning.

— Staff reports

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