Fire near Medford started with lawnmower

Investigators have determined that a lawnmower cutting dry grass was the cause of a fire that burned 17 acres near homes in the east Medford hills Thursday.

The fire started at 5350 Aerial Heights Drive at about 3:15 p.m. Medford Fire Department Fire Marshal Greg Kleinberg said the mower's blade likely hit a rock and emitted a spark, which then caught in the dry weeds and grass and started the blaze.

Kleinberg said the residents of the home called emergency services and tried to extinguish the fire by pulling garden hoses toward the blaze.

Wind fueled the fire and carried it through low brush on the hill, headed toward homes on Cherry Lane. No structures were damaged.

The blaze knocked out power to 992 homes in the area and traffic lights on North Phoenix and East Barnett roads just before 4 p.m.

Pacific Power restored power to the area at 4:41 p.m., Pacific Power spokesman Monte Mendenhall said.

The fire sent a column of smoke above the hills in east Medford that was visible from downtown. Crews from Medford, Jackson County Fire Districts No. 5 and No. 3 and the Oregon Department of Forestry responded to the call.

Two helicopters that dumped water and an air tanker that dropped retardant on the blaze were pulled from the Double Day fire burning just south of Butte Falls.

— Stacey Barchenger

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