District 5 firefighter Cary Halligan, Oregon State Police Detective Monty Neal and District 5 Capt. Larry Decker search through the ashes of a trailer fire that resulted in the death of Raymond Corbin Sr., 83, and his dog, Bandit near Phoenix. - Bob Pennell

Fatal trailer fire probed

An elderly man died early Wednesday when a fire consumed his travel trailer in rural Talent. Raymond Corbin Sr., 83, and his dog, Bandit, were found in the ruins of the 8-by-15-foot trailer in the 5000 block of Colver Road.

Jackson County Fire District No. 5 responded to the blaze at about 4 a.m. after Corbin's daughter, Kathy Balero, who lives in a house on the same property, called 9-1-1.

"We woke up to the crackling noise," Balero said. "It sounded like a branch was breaking. We looked out the window and saw the fire."

Her husband, Luis Balero, ran out to the trailer while she called 9-1-1. "There was nothing he could do," she said.

The fire was fully involved when two fire trucks arrived at the scene, said District 5 Capt. Frank Banfield.

"It didn't take much to extinguish it," Banfield said. "From all appearances, he died of smoke inhalation."

An autopsy will be performed on Corbin to confirm the cause of death, said Jackson County sheriff's Detective Sgt. Rich Fogarty.

The official cause of the fire will be listed as undetermined, said District 5 Division Chief Darin Welburn.

"The most probable cause was a makeshift cooking device," Welburn said. "He had a propane cooking device. The most severe burns were around that."

"The trailer had a lot of clutter in it so pinpointing the cause was difficult," he said.

Corbin, who had an alcohol habit, had bought a bottle of his favorite whiskey late Tuesday afternoon and was drinking it throughout the evening, Kathy Balero said at her home Wednesday morning as family and friends trickled in, carrying containers of food and offering their condolences.

Corbin most likely had his little electric heater switched on that night, she said.

Corbin, who referred to himself as "Cowboy Roy," used to ride his bicycle around the valley. He liked to wear all types of hats and sported a goatee.

To elicit squeals from his great-grandchildren, he would sometimes show off his single tooth, Kathy Balero said.

He had six children, nine grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

On heavy drinking nights, he would often cradle his fiddle and play a tune, Kathy Balero said.

"He was a colorful character," she said.

A native of the Applegate Valley, he returned to Southern Oregon from California about five years ago.

"He has always been a wanderer," Kathy Balero said.

During his first year back in Southern Oregon, he lived in various places inside his trailer until Luis and Kathy Balero moved him to their property in Talent.

"It was good to have him here," Kathy Balero said. "That way I didn't have to worry if he was out in the cold."

"We tried to look after him, but he was strong-minded," she said.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or

Share This Story