Agencies in Josephine County report a huge influx of donations of toiletries, socks and protein bars for firefighters, but officials caution that donors should not try to drive to fire camps — and should direct any money to the Red Cross, in part to avoid scams.
Lt. Mike Shaw of the Rural/Metro Fire Department in Grants Pass says donations of socks, toiletries and protein bars will be accepted at his station, 5566 Monument Drive in Grants Pass.
"We're a drop-off point for donations, and we have a runner who picks them up and takes them back to firefighters, about 800 or 1,000 of them on the Brimstone, Douglas Complex and Windy Creek fires."
Food already is well-supplied to firefighters, he adds.
No fire agency is accepting money, and if anyone hears such a request, it may be a scam, Shaw said in a news bulletin.
Any money donations should go to the Red Cross, he adds.
In Jackson County, KMED radio is taking donations at its broadcast site, 3624 Avion Drive, Medford, says Program Director Larry Neal.
What's needed, he says, are strong wool socks, toothpaste, beef jerky, nuts, big cases of water, snacks and feminine hygiene products.
The Oregon Employer Council of Josephine County is accepting supply donations at the office of Workforce Oregon in the Parkway Village shopping center in Grants Pass, says coordinator Debbi Stricklan.
"We took the ball and ran with it Monday morning, leading the effort to support the community in doing this. It's morphed into a huge effort. We've distributed over 3,000 pairs of socks."
A fellow worker who lives in Glendale, where the fires have caused evacuations, is driving them to the camps, she said.
What's needed are eye drops, emergency packets, nail clippers, pocket-size wipes, feminine hygiene products and "anything that really works on poison oak," she adds.
Fire camps are being overwhelmed with donations, but there's not a dire need, said Linda Kestner, a Community Emergency Response Team worker, reading from an advisory put out by the Oregon Department of Forestry and Bureau of Land Management.
Supplies may always be donated to local rural fire agencies, Kestner said, and money should be donated to the Red Cross, which directs top-down disaster relief throughout the country all year.
"That's what we're telling people, but it's not satisfactory to those who want to drive their trucks to fire scenes," she said. "We need to discourage that kind of effort."
At the Joint Operations Center, Kestner says they're screening many calls, so people should instead go to the website, www.swofire.com, where information numbers for each fire are posted.
John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.