Two-alarm fire damages Asante warehouse

Fire officials say a functioning sprinkler is likely the reason a Medford warehouse that stores furniture and other equipment for Asante didn’t burn down Thursday night.

A single Medford Fire-Rescue engine initially responded to the structure, located at 508 S. Front St., at 7:53 p.m. after a fire alarm went off. The fire started on the building’s exterior near scattered drug paraphernalia and cigarette butts.

“Our engine got there and did see some smoke in the area and saw water running out one of the garage doors,” said Medford Fire Deputy Chief Justin Bates. “Right about that exact same time, 911 got a second call from a second caller that said they saw fire on the other side of the building.”

Firefighters had some initial difficulty making entry because of fencing and the building’s garage doors. They called for a second alarm, drawing a total of six engines and 22 firefighters. Assisting agencies included Jackson County Fire District 3, Jackson County Fire District 5 and Medford police.

“Any time we have a larger commercial building like that, it’s pretty common for us to call a second alarm,” Bates said.

The 8,540-square-foot warehouse, built in 1956, was filled with smoke that churned from a corner of the building near some pallets and air conditioning unit components, Bates said. A single sprinkler head had popped, and water continued to flow over the flames.

“(It) really held it in check until those guys got there,” Bates said, adding it took firefighters just a few minutes to extinguish the fire. “If there wouldn’t have been sprinklers there, we probably would have lost the whole building.”

The official cause is “undetermined,” according to Deputy Fire Marshal Samantha Metheny, as an investigation did not show whether the blaze was accidental or set on purpose. A specific dollar amount on damage was not immediately available.

The warehouse, adjacent to the railroad tracks and just south of 12th Street, stores a variety of Asante property, said spokeswoman Lauren Van Sickle. None of the equipment stored there is used for medical care, she said.

“It’s mostly like office furniture, where we store the salt for winter, that sort of stuff,” Van Sickle said. “Miscellaneous items.”

Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com or at 541-776-4468.

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