Medford, Ashland fires weren't connected, investigators conclude

Fire investigators have determined that the two fires that burned near Ashland and Medford last week were not related.

However, they are still figuring out what sparked the two separate fires hours apart that came to be known as the South County complex.

The Siskiyou fire south of Ashland started shortly after 10 a.m. on Sept. 21 near the intersection of Crowson Road and Siskiyou Boulevard. It burned about 190 acres before it was contained on Thursday.

The Deer Ridge fire in east Medford flared around 2:30 p.m. Sept. 21. From a starting point near Deer Ridge and Vista Points drives, it burned about 630 acres before it was contained on Thursday.

Investigators continue to search for the cause of each fire and the person or people responsible. Then they must determine whether the person was negligent, willful or malicious, Oregon Department of Forestry District Forester Dan Thorpe said.

Because the people responsible for the fires could face hefty bills related to fire suppression costs as well as civil claims from homeowners whose property, including trees, was damaged, investigators aren't releasing details until their work is done, Thorpe said. He expects the complete inquiry into the fires to take at least a month.

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