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Fire damage kept to a minimum

Responders take quick action

   Fire damage to two Madras houses was kept to a minimum over the last week, thanks to quick action by firefighters from the Jefferson County Fire Department.
   The first, which occurred on Friday, Dec. 14, at 425 S.W. G St., was reported at 5:53 p.m. by a neighbor and a passerby on Highway 361.
   The fire, at G and Marshall streets, was on the outside of the structure.
   "Basically, what it did was burn a section of vinyl siding on the west end of the house," said Tom Jaca, fire marshal and assistant fire chief. "It was extinguished before it extended into the living space or attic."
   Firefighters were on the scene four minutes after the tone-out, and responded with two engines and 11 personnel, according to Jaca.
   "The fire was knocked down immediately," he said.
   Damage to the house, owned by Wells Fargo Mortgage, was estimated at about $5,000.
   Cause of the fire, which appears to be human-caused, is under investigation. "I called in the Oregon State Police arson investigator and the State Fire Marshal's Office to assist with the investigation," he said.
   The second fire was called in at 12:25 a.m. Dec. 17, at 7241 South Highway 97, on the front porch of a single-family residence, owned by Doug and Pam Middlestetter, of Silverton.
   "A sheriff's deputy was called to the residence upon request of the occupant," said Jaca, noting that the deputy reported the fire on the front porch of the home, located on the east side of the highway, outside the Madras city limits.
   "With the wind conditions, we're very lucky that it did as little damage as it did," said Jaca, who estimated that winds were gusting to 40 or 50 miles per hour. "It only damaged the front porch; there was no extension of fire into the structure.
   Responding to the fire were two engines and eight personnel from the fire department, along with two police officers and an ambulance.
   The fire was unintentionally set by the occupant, so no investigation was needed. There were no injuries, and fire damage was estimated at $500.