A 1929 former fruit packing plant in downtown Medford burned to the ground early Wednesday in a three-alarm fire that lit up the sky and destroyed an antique shop housed inside.
The fire was reported at about 1:46 a.m. at 220 N. Fir St., which is across the street from the Mail Tribune. The 16,552-square-foot building was largely empty except for the small Miscellany antique store and space used for storage, building owners said.
Miscellany owner Daryl Wright said he received a call about the fire at about 2 a.m.
"I came down hoping there was maybe a little fire on the back porch," Wright said, adding dozens of people packed the nearby streets to watch firefighters battle the blaze.
Chase Browning, fire investigator for Medford Fire-Rescue, said crews found the building engulfed in flames.
"When crews arrived on scene, there were large columns of flame," Browning said. "Very hot. It grew very fast through the building."
Medford crews were joined by Jackson County Fire District No. 3 and the Jacksonville Fire Department. A total of 11 engines worked to quench the flames.
Power had to be shut off temporarily to all buildings surrounding the fire, but the electricity was turned back on later in the morning. The fire did not spread to nearby structures. No one was hurt.
Smoke continued to pour off the leveled structure late Wednesday morning, with bricks, charred wood bits and ash scattered on the stretch of North Fir Street between Fourth and Fifth streets. The street remained closed to traffic through the day while crews continued to douse hot spots.
Fire officials anticipate the street will stay closed for the next several days — at least through Friday — as they sift through the rubble and try to determine the cause. Fire inspectors will start that search today.
"Our next stop is to bring heavy equipment in to safely approach the investigation," Browning said.
A damage estimate was not available, but firefighters said the structure is a total loss. Wright said his store does not have insurance. The building itself does, however. Property records show the wood and concrete building was most recently purchased in 1993 for $163,000 by BDL Partnership and has a current assessed value of $366,000.
The building has served a variety of functions over its 85-year history but is probably best known as the former Pinnacle fruit packing plant. Southern Oregon Historical Society officials said the building first served as the Kimball Fruit Co., built at a cost of $25,000.
In the mid-1930s, it became Pinnacle Packing Co.'s No. 3 plant. Pinnacle was open through about the mid-1940s. The building was later used as a wholesale store and a feed market, Wright said.
Wright is eager to get in and see what pieces may have survived the flames.
"Anything I can salvage is going to be good."