Smoke rises from the Highcrest Drive house that was heavily damaged by a fire that spread through the attic Sunday afternoon. - Megan Beard

Roof fire damages Medford home

A fire roared through the roof of a two-story house on Highcrest Drive Sunday afternoon, leaving the distraught owners wondering if a shifting foundation had anything to do with it.

Six engine crews responded to the 1:45 p.m. blaze that was spotted by Medford Deputy Fire Chief Larry Anderson. He was first on the scene after seeing the smoke from his house a short distance away.

“By the time we got here, we had a fire through the roof,” said Battalion Chief Brian Fish.

No injuries were reported, but Fish said one firefighter had a close call.

“One of the guys fell through the roof, but he caught himself.”

Fish said firefighters attempted to cover as many belongings as they could to prevent damage from the water poured on the house.

“They had a lot of nice things in there, and we were able to salvage a lot of it,” he said.

Greg and Diana Short, owners of the house, tried to get medicines and other personal belongings out, but firefighters worried that some areas of the house were unsafe.

The couple made their way over fire hoses and around firefighters as they reacted in dismay to their situation.

“We have a 15-year-old daughter,” said Greg Short. “Can you imagine what she’s going through?”

The Shorts have insurance and a neighbor offered to let them spend the night next door.

Short suspects there might be a problem with the chimney, which could have been damaged by a shifting foundation problem that he discovered after he bought the house in 2003.

“I started a fire in my fireplace for my daughter so she could be cozy,” said Short.

About an hour later he noticed smoke coming out of the attic and called the fire department.

Fish said an investigator hadn’t determined the cause of the blaze late Sunday, but he said the chimney could be one possibility.

“It could have cracked and caused the problem,” he said. Estimates of damaged hadn’t been determined, said Fish.

As fire crews doused the flames, Shorted showed Sam Barnum, senior inspector with the Medford Building Safety Department, the damage to his foundation.

Sections of foundation were separating and the house appeared to be leaning toward the downhill side.

"This house has just been moving," Short said.

Short said he blames the previous owner and said he's tried to contact the city previously to look at the problems.

After surveying the damaged foundation, Barnum said, "This house is ready to go obviously."

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476 or

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