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Firefighting friends pitch in to help

Barbara Geidel stands with Applegate firefighters, from left, Lt. Darren Bucich and Michael Graham. Geidel, whose husband has throat cancer, says the help they've received from the fire department and other Applegate residents is ?incredible.? / Jim Craven — — — —

RUCH ' If former New York City firefighter Ralph Geidel could speak right now, he probably would have two words for Applegate Valley residents: thank you.

Temporarily unable to speak following recent surgery and radiation treatment in Medford for throat cancer, Geidel, 45, and his wife, Barbara, who live in Seiad Valley, Calif., have been staying at a friend's home in the Applegate since late August.

When the couple ran out of firewood Thursday night, two volunteers with Applegate Fire District No. 9 ' Cody Goodnough and his wife, Tailese ' promptly arrived with plenty of firewood to get them through the chilly night.

It's so incredible, the help we've gotten from friends, neighbors and strangers, Barbara said. They (firefighters) brought us firewood within an hour of learning we were out.

— We really wanted to thank everyone for helping us out like this.

Don't mention it, said Darren Bucich, a shift officer for the fire district.

They were having some wood delivered the following day, but the temperature was going to drop so we got enough for them to get through the night, he explained. We would have done it for anybody.

And Dan Kelly shrugs off the fact he offered the Geidels a temporary home in Southern Oregon during Ralph's treatment. Kelly lives with his wife, Tina, in Happy Camp, Calif., where he is a district lineman for Pacific Power.

Ralph had surgery in July and has been undergoing radiation treatment since Aug. 25.

A veteran of the Marine Corps, he worked as a firefighter in New York until he was sidelined by a knee injury. His father retired from the department; his brother, Mike, who is visiting him now, is still with the NYFD.

The Geidels believe Ralph's cancer may be a direct result of 9/11. Ralph's brother, Gary, was killed after responding with Rescue One to the terrorist attacks in New York.

Ralph traveled to Ground Zero at the World Trade Center twin towers to try to find his brother's remains. Although he spent long days choking in the dust and smoke at the site, he was unable to find his brother, Barbara said.

The cancer he had ' they think they got all of it ' is often found in people who are heavy abusers of alcohol and are heavy smokers, she said. He was a light smoker and a light drinker.

They can't convince me this cancer wasn't connected (to his search at Ground Zero), she added. Stress does a lot of nasty things to your immune system. And God only knows what toxins he was exposed to there.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at