Overheated rice pillow caused fire

There was a rather rude awakening at a Teakwood home during the early morning hours of March 25. The owner of the apartment did something that a lot of other folks do on a regular basis, but this time it backfired.

The owner placed a rice pillow, used for easing sore muscles, into a microwave oven for heating. If done properly, the warmed rice inside the bag soothes aching and sore muscles and allows a person relief enough to help them sleep. In this case, the rice was over-heated and began smoking. The owner then took it outside and threw it on a couch sitting on a patio. As it heated the couch, flames appeared and spread to surrounding combustibles. The smoke alarm went off, fortunately, alerting the occupants, who then alerted neighbors. Everyone escaped unharmed from the fire.

In the time it took for the fire district to arrive, the rear portion of the duplex was in flames. Just a short distance across the fence, the neighbors RV was between the flames and their own house. Heat from the blaze partially buckled the outside of the RV, and caused the hair to raise on the back of the necks of the neighbors.

According to Fire District #3, the apartment was a total loss in the half where the fire started, the other half was unharmed. Public Information Officer, Don Hickman, said had the owner followed proper instructions, the rice-filled pillow would have been fine. An alternative to that might have been for the occupant to throw the heated rice bag onto green grass or an unoccupied driveway.

Hickman also confirmed that other fire organizations move equipment into areas where fires are ongoing, not necessarily to fight fires, but to be available while the District is short-handed. In this case, relief came from Medford Fire and Rescue.


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