Firefighters battled both fire and ice Thursday night in northwest Medford when they responded at 8:50 to a blaze at Alsco Inc., 980 Ellen Ave. The building, a commercial laundry facility, sustained “moderate smoke damage,” with no visible damage to the structure, according to an agency Facebook post. An investigation showed the fire ignited in a large dryer that had been filled with mop heads and other textiles. The materials were left in the dryer by accident, fire officials said, likely leading them to smolder, ignite, then spread to some nearby linen bags. Alarms in the building began to sound and the facility’s sprinkler system kicked on. Fire crews initially responded to the scene with four engines, but quickly upgraded the response to a second alarm because of the amount of smoke and the fire’s location deep in the building.
“Second alarm is actually used for resource improvement,” said Medford Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Erin Sawall. “It could be for any myriad of needs.” Six engines from Medford Fire-Rescue and Jackson County Fire District No. 3 responded, tangling with ice outside while they fought the fire inside. Thursday night’s low temperature in Medford dipped to 18 degrees, according to the National Weather Service, turning the roads outside into a skating rink for firefighters while they prepared hoses. “It was a very icy scene,” Sawall said. “Crews operated in a pretty dangerous atmosphere.” Crews deployed salt to help. One firefighter did slip, Sawall said, but he wasn’t seriously injured. No other injuries were reported. Firefighters had the flames extinguished within a half hour, but spent almost three more hours on scene venting the buildup of smoke. Fire officials said the building’s sprinkler system was a big help in snuffing the flames. “It had some serious potential,” Sawall said. “Under these conditions, that’s the best we can hope for.”