Fire traced to paint supplies in a garage

ASHLAND — Fire investigators traced the cause of Tuesday's house fire on North Valley View Road to paint supplies in the garage.

The fire began in the garage where John and Caroline Stranberg were storing paint and remodeling supplies from a new roof and burned toward the front of the house, said Fire Chief Dan Marshall of Jackson County Fire District No. 5.

The Stranbergs were sleeping in the house, which sits on the grounds of Valley View Nursery, their family-owned business, when the fire broke out early Tuesday morning. The 3,600-square-foot house was 75 percent involved when firefighters arrived at around 4 a.m.

The couple, who lived in the home since 1969, had smoke detectors in the second- and first-floor hallways, but had removed the batteries because the alarms went off too easily when cooking, John Stranberg said. They awoke to the sound of explosions, likely the tires of a red Saturn Vue and John Deere Gator as they burned in the carport on the north side of the home.

The Stranbergs couldn't break through the home's double-paned windows and had to crawl out through a small sliding window in the bedroom.

The biggest lesson to be learned from the fire is to have working smoke detectors and planned escape routes, Marshall said.

"These folks didn't have that and were still able to get out, but it was a very close call," he said.

Early alarm detection is especially important for small children and the elderly, who typically have the most difficult time escaping a fire, he said.

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