Sherri McFarland surveys the holes in her master bedroom ceiling after a Thanksgiving evening fire gutted her north east Medford home. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell photo

Medford family escapes burning home

Even Fluffy, the family guinea pig, escaped from a two-alarm Thanksgiving night fire that destroyed much of an east Medford home at 3877 Mallard Lane.

"The whole bathroom was glowing orange," said 38-year-old Sherri McFarland, who awoke with her husband just before midnight. "Nothing made sense."

After McFarland realized what was happening, she and her husband roused their 7-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter, who raced with Fluffy out of the house.

"My kids are safe, we're safe and all the important things we have are safe," McFarland said Friday as she attempted to retrieve belongings not damaged by fire and water.

Medford fire crews attacked the blaze, which started somewhere on the side of the house next to the master bedroom. But the flames already had engulfed the attic.

The fire spread to a fence and started to ignite the house next door.

The call came in at 11:46 p.m., and fire crews were on the scene in six minutes.

Because the fire was burning so hot and threatened an adjacent home, Medford Fire-Rescue called in Jackson County Fire District No. 3.

"We're suspecting it started on the outside and went up into the attic," said Brian Fish, Medford fire battalion chief. A cause has not yet been determined.

When firefighters arrived at the house, they realized it would be difficult to attack the fire directly in the attic because of the danger of the roof collapsing.

"It took a little longer than normal because we were erring on the side of caution," Fish said.

Firefighters sprayed water to cool the fire down and contain it. Pressure from water broke some windows in the apartments behind the house, Fish said.

Concrete siding on the neighboring house likely saved it from catching on fire, Fish said.

Damage to the McFarland house is difficult to estimate because of smoke and potentially unknown structural damage, Fish said. However, Fish did think the house was salvageable.

He said none of the occupants appeared to have suffered any injuries.

"I feel bad for them, especially on the holiday weekend," Fish said. "But they seem to have a pretty good support system."

The McFarlands didn't cook Thanksgiving dinner at their home but went to a relative's house.

McFarland, who had no idea what caused the fire, said she was startled out of her sleep by a "pop, pop" sound that reminded her of hail coming down in Texas, where she formerly lived.

"Once we saw the flames on the outside, then we knew it was time to get out of there," she said.

The McFarlands are staying at relatives and are waiting for an insurance adjuster to assess the damage.

Michael McFarland, 49, had the house built in 1998. He said he'd received estimates that it could take three to six months to repair the damage.

In his bedroom on Friday morning, McFarland could see daylight where the roof had been punched through. Pieces of drywall clung to the rafters. Sheets of plastic were draped over furniture.

The carpets made a squishing sound when the McFarlands retrieved their belongings Friday morning.

"We're a blessed family, and we know everything happens for a reason," Michael McFarland said.

Neighbors walked by, surveying the damage.

"It went up quickly," said Rex Birdsong, a 49-year-old neighbor. "It was definitely an inferno."

Birdsong recorded a video of the fire that can be seen at

"It's amazing how quickly something like that could go up," he said. "It started burning the whole fence line down, then it jumped to the neighbor's house."

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.

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