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August 22, 2014
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Tri City fire caused by torch in backyard

TRI CITY — A fire that injured two people and consumed a single-story home on Weaver Avenue was caused by a man who was using a torch to dismember a car in the backyard, according to authorities.

Bobby Jackson Jr., 19, who was injured and refused medical treatment, reportedly started the blaze at about 2 p.m., said Sgt. Clayton Ruble of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Jackson was cited on suspicion of reckless burning and burning outside of fire restrictions.

Ruble said a spark from the torch touched off a fire in grass and a pile of dry debris. The fire escalated, consuming several sheds and vehicles on the property.

Another injured person who was unidentified was treated at the scene.

Homeowner Mary Myers said she was in the house when the fire began in her backyard. She escaped, taking only her dog with her.

“I couldn’t even get my purse,” she said, watching her house buckle as flames rose through the roof. “We’ll have to rebuild. We have no other choice.”

Myers said her father, Gerald King, built the three-bedroom home around 70 years ago. Myers said she replaced all the appliances within the past few years.

Sandy Williams, Myers’ partner, lives in the house but was in town when the fire broke out. He arrived as firefighters were battling the blaze.

Neither were injured. Myers said she didn’t have insurance.

The smoke was visible for miles and drew onlookers from the surrounding neighborhood.

“It just billows across the neighborhood,” said David Winter, 46, who stood watching nearby with his teenaged son.

Neighbor Robin Shepherd said she called to report the fire when she saw the smoke.

“I thought somebody was burning tires,” she said. “It’s a tragedy.”

Another neighbor, Schylee Rondeau, 16, said she and her 14-year-old brother, Anthony, “heard a pop and the garage door burst open and there were big flames.”

Williams said he had a $15,000 ’96 Harley Davidson motorcycle in the garage. The structure later collapsed.

Ruble said the fire was under control by 4:20 p.m.

Myrtle Creek, Canyonville and Riddle fire departments responded, as did Tri City Rural Fire Protection District. The sheriff’s office, Douglas Forest Protection Association and Myrtle Creek Police Department assisted.

• Reporter Megan Campbell can be reached at 541-957-4221 or macampbell@nrtoday.com.

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The News-Review Updated Aug 23, 2014 01:18AM Published Sep 5, 2014 12:18PM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.