Crews making progress following fire at Pacific Pride in Medford, public still advised to stay cautious

MEDFORD, Ore — Local and state crews continue to clean and assess the damage following last Tuesday’s fire at Pacific Pride gas station – with positive updates regarding affected wildlife.

The fire, cause yet to be determined, destroyed four adjacent businesses. The initial 9-1-1 called reported it as a warming fire according to Medford Police Department. fire

On Monday, teams were split up to work on various different tasks like cleaning up contaminated soil, and assuring more oil does not leak into the Bear Creek.

EPA, DEQ and NEXGEN Logistics, LLC – which owns the gas station and is funding the work, collected and disposed most of the oil from the creek.

“We’re right in the middle of operations right now,” Geoff Brown, PIO with Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, said. “We have several different things going on at once. There’s a lot of measures that have been taken to minimize exposure of any released chemicals to the environment and people.”

DEQ noted that more than 20,000 gallons of petroleum products were released during the fire. Though, there’s no estimate as to how much was consumed by the fire or leaked into the area.

RELATED : Pacific Pride Fire cleanup an ‘environmental emergency’

Throughout the cleanup process, officials stress the importance of protecting wildlife that have come into contact with oil. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported there were no fish impacted so far. However, some Canada geese and mallard ducks are being taken care of by the International Bird Rescue.

IBR advises people to not approach or pick up affected wildlife. It also suggests people remain at least 50 yards away from oiled areas near Hawthorne Park and the bike path.

“A relatively small amount of oil remains in streamside vegetation and soil, and the agencies have determined that removing these smaller deposits would likely damage habitat used by nesting ducks and geese, and other animals that use the vegetation. These deposits will either evaporate or slowly migrate into Bear Creek during rains and high-water events which will produce visible sheens for the next several weeks to a few months.“ DEQ said in a release Monday.

Businesses in neighboring complexes have reopened, after they were temporarily shut down due to the road closures and hazards.

“It was a pretty stressful night, not knowing if your business is going to be there when you wake up or not,” Marc Farrell, owner of Made to Fade Barber Shoppe, said last Thursday. “We’re very blessed.”

In a notice released late Monday evening, DEQ officials said the current detour on South Central ave towards Bank street, will be lifted. Traffic is expected to resume with a short detour around the burn area on the south end of the street.

Drivers should expect heavy congestion and are encouraged to take alternate routes in the time being.

All these people are pulling together towards a common goal,” Brown said. “From getting the fuel off the ground, keeping it out of the creek, and doing anything we can to get life back to normal.” 


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