Overheated warmer catches couch on fire, destroys apartment

An Eagle Point resident looking to soothe sore muscles with a microwaved rice bag accidentally caused a fire that gutted an Eagle Point apartment early today, fire officials reported.

One of the occupants at an apartment in the 400 block of Teakwood Drive had heated up a rice bag warmer used to soothe sore muscles. After several minutes, the bag began to smolder.

"He heated it up a little longer than he should have," said Don Hickman, Jackson County Fire District No. 3 public information officer. "There is a maximum amount of time to heat them up."

The apartment resident threw the smoldering rice bag out a window and it landed on a couch outside, Hickman said.

"It looks as if (it) smoldered and caught the couch on fire," he said.

The couch fire spread to the home. A smoke alarm activated and notified the other residents of the blaze shortly after midnight. All made it out without injury.

"That's probably what saved their lives, hearing that smoke alarm," Hickman said.

Jackson County Fire District No. 3 responded with three engines, with initial help from Medford Fire-Rescue and Jackson County Fire District No. 4. It's not known how long primary knockdown took, but no one was hurt during extinguishing efforts, officials said.

The apartment is a total loss. A nearby apartment wasn't damaged.

Hickman said to never throw a smoldering object onto a combustible surface. Instead, throw it onto a driveway or into a dirt-covered area where lingering heat won't start a fire.

"They can get warm and hold a lot of heat," Hickman said.

Red Cross helped the two people and their pet displaced by the fire.

— Ryan Pfeil

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