Ashland Plaza Fire started in bathroom, but cause unknown

ASHLAND, Ore. —NBC5 News has learned that the fire in the Ashland plaza Wednesday, started in an apartment bathroom. While we know where it began, firefighters are still working to define the exact cause, however.

Multiple fire crews responded to the structure fire, before 2 Wednesday afternoon. While firefighters say it started in an apartment bathroom, they don’t know how it started. We’re told smoke billowed inside apartments and offices on the second floor of the building. Police and fire evacuated the entire block on the plaza, as firefighters worked to keep it from spreading to other areas. No one was hurt, though there was an injury to someone’s cat.

Extra help was brought in from Jackson County Fire District 5, Medford Fire, as well as Jackson County Fire District 3, and Mercy Flights. Ashland Fire’s Division Chief Chris Chambers, says multiple agencies were necessary, and local firefighters do a great job sharing resources.

“Ultimately what was a big help was Medford bringing over their ladder truck and putting it right in front of the building and helping them get to the roof because that’s where firefighters needed to ventilate the building,” said Division Chief Chambers.

Ashland Fire and Rescue doesn’t have its own ladder truck.

We’re told the back two apartments are total losses, and the offices suffered heavy smoke damage. Ashland Fire and Rescue says four residents are displaced after the fire, while the cleanup continues. Now we’re hearing from one of those residents. Eric Navickas and his wife, live in one of the apartments at the plaza that burned Wednesday. He says he was at work when he was told what was happening, and he rushed home. When he arrived firefighters were extinguishing the last of the fire.

He says his entire apartment is ruined, aside from some furniture, that may be salvageable.
“You know it’s something that you always fear, has become a reality and we’re just trying to figure out what to do from here until we get our feet back under us,” said Navickas.

The couple is now staying with a relative. A GoFundMe has been set up for his family, that’s already raised thousands, you can view it here.

A handful of businesses were closed Thursday as a result of the fire, but some others remained open. Rare Earth is just a few doors down from where the fire happened. Employees say it had a few customers in the store when it was told to evacuate. It smelled a little smokey this morning but didn’t have any damage from the fire. It was open today.

“I know Little Tokyo is closed and Mountain Provisions is damaged but anything that way from us is safe,” Rare Earth employee Riley Shadden.

The businesses below where the fire occurred suffered water and smoke damage One of the businesses, Mezcal, tells us it’s closed for now. The carpet and drapes, among other areas, need cleaning, due to the smoke and ash. Mezcal says it has to be closed for the foreseeable future, because its emergency exit is the hallway connected to the apartments, and that’s inaccessible right now.

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Jenna King is the 6pm and 11pm anchor for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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