Teenagers set fire to YMCA vending machine

Medford, Ore — Medford Police and Fire-Rescue are investigating a vending machine fire at the Rogue Valley Family YMCA from Wednesday morning.

According to Medford Police, security footage shows the fire started from teenagers stuffing something inside the machine.

Thankfully, the damage was minimal, but the executive director of the YMCA says an incident like this is about something bigger.

“This is not ok for any means. The building could have really caught on fire fully,” Executive Director Brad Russell said.

Just before four Wednesday morning, workers who open the Rogue Valley Family YMCA were met with firefighters and Medford Police.

The vending machines outside the building were in flames.

Executive Director Brad Russell says they thought it could have been an electrical short until they looked at surveillance video.

“The surveillance footage looked like a couple of younger people that were messing around with the drink machines,” Russell said.

The YMCA is choosing not to release that footage since those involved were most likely minors.

But according to Medford Fire-Rescue, the fire was definitely intentional.

“It’s more of a rare instance. We don’t have a large number of intentionally set fires in Medford,” Russell said.

Thanks to the quick work of first responders and the passerby who saw the flames, the fire didn’t spread to the rest of the building.

However, there was some minor damage.

“The walls are black, and we had to close one of the rooms — the child watch room — because it smelled like smoke,” Russell said.

While the situation could have been much worse, Russell says it’s disappointing to see young members of the valley vandalizing a place that’s meant to offer a safe and positive experience.

As a volunteer of the Gang Prevention Task Force, he says he’s always working on ways to prevent bad behavior.

“We’ve been asking other non-profit organizations if they’ve been experiencing an increase in bad behavior of children, and sadly the answer is yes,” Russell said.

Russell says it’s true that it takes a village to raise a child, and he thinks it’s important for everyone in town to work hard to raise kids who turn into great adults.

“It’s not just about the machines that were set on fire. It’s really about the behavior of kids, and teens, and adults, and making sure that we’re respecting each other. We need to lead kids into positive activities with adults who care,” Russell said.

While starting a fire is always a serious issue, Medford Fire-Rescue wants to remind people that starting a fire in the summer months can be especially dangerous.

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