Probe into White City fire ends without finding cause

Fire investigators have wrapped up their search for a cause of the massive blaze that destroyed Davis Finish Products and damaged other businesses and structures in White City on July 9, but they haven't found anything.

A team including investigators from Jackson County Fire District No. 3 and Oregon State Police completed their work Tuesday afternoon and have listed the cause of the fire as undetermined.

The fire burned freely for hours, reaching temperatures of up to 1,900 degrees and destroying all the materials that might have shown clues about where and how the fire started inside the Davis building, District 3 Fire Marshal Don Hickman said.

Fire crews from Jackson and Josephine counties battled the four-alarm blaze that consumed the 140,000-square-foot cabinet and door business, as well as Rogue Valley Post and Pole, and damaged Highway Products Inc., Ferry Morse Seed Co. and a hobbyist's garage. In all about 62 acres were scorched in the fire, which continued to smolder in underground pockets of wood waste for about a week. Firefighters mopped up those hot spots for several days, then turned the efforts over to a privately contracted firefighting company hired by an insurance company. Small fires could pop up from underground all summer, but the scene is being closely monitored by the contractor, Hickman said.

In hopes of finding where and how the fire started investigators collected photos and videos from people who stopped to see the spectacle and interviews dozen of people who were in the area. In the end, though, they could pin down what started the fire inside the Davis building, investigators said.

— Anita Burke

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