Medford man charged in Pine Street fire

Update: A man who allegedly started a fire while making hashish in a west Medford home faces criminal charges, police said.

Sgt. Tom Ianieri of Medford police said that Clayton Morgan, 27, has been charged with third-degree assault, a Class C felony, manufacturing a controlled substance, reckless burning, reckless endangering times six, and criminal mischief. Morgan was still being treated for his injuries when police cited him, so he is free until his court date, Ianieri said.

Police believe Morgan started the fire that injured him and a 23-year-old woman whose name was not available. Both were treated at Rogue Valley Medical Center and released. A mother and two young daughters inside the apartment at 655 Pine St. escaped unharmed.

Update: A 23-year-old woman and 27-year-old man making hashish in a west Medford bathroom caused the fire that injured them, fire investigators said.

Medford fire inspector Derek Zwagerman said Clayton Morgan was making hashish with a friend in his bathtub at 655 Pine St., unit B, when an electric heater in the bathroom kicked on and ignited the released butane gas used in the manufacture of hashish.

Morgan's girlfriend, Nicole Muhlnickel, 27, was home with her two daughters, age 1 and 6, when the fire started, but were able to escape the burning home unharmed. Muhlnickel said she rented the bottom floor of the two-story home about a month ago, and only met the woman who was in the bathroom with Morgan the day before.

Hashish consists of the THC-rich resinous material of the cannabis plant, which is collected, dried, and then compressed into a variety of forms, such as balls, cakes or cookie-like sheets, according to various websites. Pieces are then broken off, placed in pipes and smoked.

Zwagerman said the Pine Street home had three people renting out the top floor, but just after the fire started Muhlnickel knocked on their door notifying them of the blaze so they could escape.

Medford Fire-Rescue responded with 19 personnel to the scene, according to a press release. The first unit arrived within four minutes. The fire was contained to the first floor with smoke damage extending to the second floor. The fire was under control within seven minutes, a press release said.

Both burn victims have been treated for their injuries and have been released, a spokesperson for Rogue Valley Medical Center said.

—Mandy Valencia

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