Update, 6:40 p.m.: Firefighters from multiple agencies — including the airport fire team — stopped the Central Point fire at Biddle Road, keeping the flames from reaching the Medford airport. The fire, which reportedly started near the Rogue Valley Family Fun Center, spread quickly through dry brush and grass through a large field behind Costco toward the airport, causing much property damage but apparently no injuries before being halted at Biddle. The flames held at the curbline, save for two small spot fires that jumped Biddle on each side of Cirrus Drive near the Erickson Air-Crane building.
Firefighters knocked down the fire's southerly approach in the field between Costco and the Medford airport, drawing their line on Biddle Road.
Kate Foley was making her daily drive to Vista View Mood and Memory Care at 4439 Hamrick Road, Central Point, to visit her husband Norman when she saw the smoke. By the time she arrived at the facility, she said, the fire had spread to nearby structures. Foley and two caretakers evacuated residents when the fence behind the building caught fire.
They used their own vehicles to transport all 14 residents to Providence Medford Medical Center to meet with administrator Kathleen Howard and to reunite with their families, with whom they will spend the night, she said. She said everyone had gotten out of the residence safely and was unharmed.
The area south of the memory care facility in the direction of Costco “looked like hell,” she said.
Sue Ross, owner and operator of R&R Pet Resort at 340 Cabbage Lane, Phoenix, has offered to take in pets displaced by the fire. The facility has 125 large indoor and outdoor dog kennels, but can house more animals with the help of portable pens that will be set up in a large air-conditioned room if necessary, Ross said.
Ross asked that pet owners contact her at 541-840-3629 before arriving at the resort, which closed at 6:30 p.m. Although she said it's helpful for owners to bring immunization records or, even more importantly, whatever food their pet is used to, she won't require either to take them in.
Ross said she had been told that a group of nine exotic birds displaced by the fire was on their way to the resort for the night.
"(It) might be a little challenging but we're going to try to figure that out," she said.
Update, 6:18 p.m. A witness said he saw the fire start close to the Family Fun Center and spread rapidly towards Biddle. Here's the latest from ECSO:
Firefighters from multiple agencies are responding to a fire burning in the vicinity of Hamrick Road, East Vilas Road and Table Rock Road near Central Point. Details are scarce at this point, but early reports suggested that orchard smudge pots still partially filled with oil were contributing to the heavy smoke.
Scanner traffic at about 5:20 p.m. warned firefighters and others in the area to be prepared for aerial tanker retardant drops. A report at 5:40 p.m. said the fire was at Biddle Road, just west of the Medford airport. Central Point resident Debbie Saxbury said the field by the new Costco was on fire and that at one point, her car was surrounded by flames as she drove through the Pine and Hamrick intersection.
Dispatchers have announced a Level 3 "Go" evacuation for businesses and other structures in the vicinity of the fire, reaching to Pine Street. Police and fire personnel have evacuated area hotels, a nursing facility, veterinary clinic and multiple other businesses, according to emergency traffic. Central Point police report they are evacuating a 2-mile radius area.
Roads in the area are being closed by police as emergency crews move toward the fire. The Interstate 5 Exit 33 at Central Point is closed.
A report just after 5 p.m. reported that the fire was expected to jump Table Rock Road.
We'll keep updating this story as soon as more information is available.