Fire damages local dental office

MEDFORD — An electrical fire at an east Medford dental office forced the evacuation of patients and employees Thursday morning.

Affordable Dental employee Denise Woodhouse had just sat a patient down for X-rays, anticipating the dentist's arrival, when she noticed the lights flickering. Then the smell of smoke wafted through the office at 826 E. Main St. and soon smoke was visible, clinical supervisor Becky Taylor said. Employees called 9-1-1 at 10:49 a.m., city records show.

"We have a fire evacuation plan and everything went perfectly," Taylor said.

Five patients and 15 employees escaped safely, she said.

"Nothing like that ever happened to me," said Walter Leitzen, 63, of Medford, who was right in the midst of a checkup when the call to leave the building came. "I never had to evacuate during a fire before."

Medford firefighters found a fire burning under the floor, said Medford Deputy Fire Chief Larry Anderson. Crews initially reached the smoldering fire through access to the building's mechanical systems, but to fully extinguish it, they had to cut several large holes in the floor, Battalion Chief Ken Goodson said. He estimated damage at $30,000. Leitzen said dental assistants gave him a card to take to a Grants Pass dentist to finish his exam, but he plans to wait until the office here reopens.

Affordable Dental's answering machine said the office would be closed at least until July 5 and provided an emergency care number. Employees said they would call all patients to reschedule regular appointments.

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