Medford hopes to rebuild part of Bear Creek Park’s playground after fire

MEDFORD, Ore. – Police are investigating a fire overnight at Bear Creek Park.

The fire destroyed part of the popular playground at the park.

“Stunned,” Medford Parks and Recreation’s director Rich Rosenthal said. “I think that sums up the reaction from our department and from the community.”

Around 1 a.m. Thursday morning, Medford Fire responded to a fire at the park’s popular playground.

Multiple nearby residents saw the fire and say it was out within 45 minutes of firefighters showing up.

This video, sent in by one viewer, shows part of the playground engulfed in flames. 

Another man who lives across the street went outside out to check it out.

“I went out and saw all the glow, stepped out the backyard and saw huge flames, 20-30 foot flames,” witness Kurt Vongehr said.

According to Medford Police, the cause of the fire is under investigation.

“There was a witness report that they saw an unidentified subject with a butane torch, again, that is not been confirmed through out investigation, but it was something one of the witnesses saw,” MPD’s Rebecca Pietila said.

Olsrud Family Community Playground, as it’s called, was built by over a thousand volunteers in 2018.

It cost over a million dollars to build, according to the city.

Firefighters were able to knock down the flames, before it spread to the rest of the playground.

The part destroyed was for the community’s littlest kids to enjoy.

Now, the city said that portion of the park will be closed until further notice, but hopes it will reopen soon.

“We’re going to replace it,” Rosenthal said. “We’re going to restore it to the greatness. I can’t tell you how long its going to take, but by gosh we’re going to get it done.”

The city will continue to evaluate the damage over the next few days.

Talking with people at the park, many said they are angry and upset that this happened to their favorite park.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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