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UPDATE: Cedar Tree Apartments fire investigation twist

KTVL

UPDATE: 2:00 pm: Multiple law enforcement and emergency service agencies worked together in the early hours of Friday morning to combat a difficult scene.

The first report of a fire at the Cedar Tree Apartments on E. Barnett Road in Medford came in at 5:35 a.m. First responders saw a unit on the second story "well-involved with flames, and bellowing smoke coming from the external window and door," according to Melissa Cano, Emergency Manager for the City of Medford, in a joint statement with the Medford Police Department. The fire was spreading rapidly as more resources were dispatched to assist.

Several rescues were made Friday morning. Firefighters were able to retrieve a woman and her children from the second story of the apartment complex. While firefighters were able to cool the door to break it down, dense smoke and additional fire inside the apartment created new challenges. With no visibility, they felt around the room to find a "3-year-old girl crouched and crying under the bed and a 5-year-old girl, unconscious, on a top bunk bed." The two girls and their mother were evacuated from the unit.

"A male, also in the second unit, grabbed his 2 ½ -year-old and 9-month-old sons and tossed the children down below to the firefighters. Both children were immediately taken to a safe zone. The male then jumped off the balcony injuring his knee," according to the Medford Fire-Rescue statement.

All four children and two adults were taken to Asante Regional Medical Center. The 5-year-old girl was flown to a Portland hospital via Mercy Flights for extensive burns on her legs and feet, the 3-year-old is being treated for smoke inhalation locally, and all others have been discharged.

A total of 21 residents were displaced by this morning's fire. Rogue Valley Transportation District sent a bus to keep community members warm as they waited to learn if they could re-enter their homes. The American Red Cross is assisting with temporary housing.

While Medford Fire-Rescue's efforts to contain the scene were underway, Medford Police were actively searching for an unaccounted resident of the initial burning unit. At first, the woman was believed to have been inside the apartment, but numerous searches ultimately determined that she had been in a serious car vs. pedestrian crash on South Pacific Highway the previous evening.

The woman remains in critical condition. Her potential connection to the fire remains under investigation, along with the fire's cause.

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UPDATE: 9:55am: Investigators are turning their attention to what caused the fire at the Cedar Tree Apartments in Medford early Friday morning.

Medford Police Lt. Mike Budreau tells News 10 the origin of the fire is pointing to the apartment where a woman resides but was not at home at the time.

The woman is identified as Tonya Johnson and was in the hospital recovering from being hit by a car on South Pacific Highway the night before.

She was rushed to the hospital and is currently undergoing treatment for serious injuries related to the crash.

Budreau said they would like to talk to anyone who may have seen her prior to the accident for the investigation.

They're still unclear if she had a room mate or if anyone else was at home at the time of the fire.

Today fire investigators will be take a closer look at the scene.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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Original report:

Morning traffic on Barnett Road will be impacted due to a structure fire at the Cedar Tree Apartments. At about 5:35 a.m. a report came in of a fire in the 2300 block of East Barnett Road in Medford.

The first Medford Fire-Rescue unit to arrive quickly upgraded the incident to a 3rd-alarm fire.

The fire was burning on the second floor and both flames and smoke could be seen through the apartment windows.

Damage assessment is currently being done to determine if residents will need to be relocated.

The American Red Cross has also been contacted for potential assistance with relocation for families, and are on their way.

Mercy Flights assisted by transporting two adults and four children with injuries. The extent of their injuries is unknown due to the incident being active and changing.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

East Barnett Road between Ellendale Drive and Crestbrook Road is currently closed , and will remain closed for the next hour.

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