A fire torched 13 acres of grassland north of Ashland Monday, but responding crews said proper mowing and defensible space around a threatened home prevented it from being added to the damage.
The fire was reported at 2:15 p.m. in the 100 block of Pompadour Drive. An area resident spotted flames near a home and called 911. Nine units responded from Jackson County Fire District 5, Ashland Fire & Rescue and the Oregon Department of Forestry.
Firefighters arrived on scene to see the flames had spread to nearby grassland but had left the home untouched.
"For the most part, all the dry grass had been mowed down around it," said Ashland Fire battalion chief David Shepherd. "There appeared to have been a lot of fire-resistant plants around the structure."
Responding crews had to cut through several portions of fence line to head the blaze off. Shifting winds spurned the fire on, driving its intensity and spread.
"It took off once the wind shifted," said Darin Welburn, Fire District 5 division chief, adding it took about 40 minutes to get the flames under control.
No one was hurt, and no evacuations of nearby homes were required, fire officials said. The cause remains under investigation, but crews are looking into an electric fence as the culprit.
Oregon Department of Forestry officials said it's unlikely the incident will make the case for an early start to fire season, but that those discussions will still take place this week. The National Weather Service is calling for a slight chance of showers Wednesday, followed by sunny skies through Friday and a chance for Saturday thunderstorms. ODF officials said they will be keeping an eye on forecast changes and will continue to monitor fuel moisture levels.
"It's not like we're seeing such a dramatic increase that we're going to be declaring fire season real soon. It's definitely coming," said ODF spokesman Brian Ballou. "We'd like to wait until June. I'm not sure if we'll get our wish, but we'll see."
— Ryan Pfeil