Blaze expected to be contained today

Firefighters expect to fully contain the blaze singeing the hills south of Ashland by 6 p.m. today — and residents are already expressing their gratitude.

Fire officials have been inundated with cookies, cards and gifts, said Brian Ballou, fire prevention specialist with the Oregon Department of Forestry, the agency in charge of the fire.

"Cookies have been coming in: snickerdoodles and chocolate-chip cookies and about every kind of cookie you can think of," he said. "We're getting a lot of very heartwarming support from the public."

The blaze burned 190 acres in the hills above Siskiyou Boulevard, east of Tolman Creek Road — but since late Monday, firefighters have kept it from spreading further.

The Siskiyou fire erupted in the hills on Monday morning and, fueled by strong winds and hot weather, quickly ate through the brittle brush, threatening 185 homes.

One of those houses was Rosemary Godfrey's on Green Meadows Way, located in the evacuation zone. Even though the scene was chaotic, fire crews and emergency response teams made her feel safe, she said.

"We are just so thankful," she said this morning. "Even though I felt like my house might have burned down and I might lose everything, I never felt physically in danger."

Ashland High School's cheerleading team, which Godfrey's daughter, Nora, is part of, is planning to bake cinnamon rolls for the firefighters tonight and take them to Ashland Fire & Rescue's downtown station on Friday, she said.

"I'm just really thankful that they got it contained before it could get any closer to our neighborhood," 14-year-old Nora said. "It was pretty scary."

Another cheerleader, Caytie Siegl, 16, also lives near the fire perimeter, on Tolman Creek Road. The girls were in school when the blaze broke out and were worried about how their families were faring. But when they got home and saw the fire officials stationed nearby, they were relieved, Caytie said.

"Nora and I were both kind of in a danger zone, and we were just really thankful that the firefighters were able to contain the fire so quickly and keep everyone safe," she said. "It was comforting to have the firefighters here."

Firefighters are heartened by the expressions of gratitude, Ballou said.

"Their faces light up and they take time to go over and read the cards, and, of course, the cookies are always appreciated," he said.

The firefighters, who are working 16-hour shifts in many cases, can feel disconnected from the people they are helping — so the tokens of thanks make a difference, Ballou added.

"It gives you a strong sense that people really do appreciate your efforts and kind of makes your day," he said.

Officials will declare the blaze fully contained when firefighters have secured the perimeter of the fire and all hot spots between 50 and 100 feet inside of the fire line have remained extinguished for several hours.

"It means that the fire has very little possibility of springing back to life or flaring up somewhere," Ballou said.

Once the fire is fully contained, the number of firefighters assigned to it will be halved, from 100 to 50, he said.

The fire likely won't be declared out until a significant amount of rain falls on the area, Ballou said.

"It's pretty darn hard to find every last smoking stump," he said. "But just a good afternoon of rain will take care of it."

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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