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A BBQ thank-you

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When the Ramsey Canyon fire roared down a mountain the night of Aug. 22, Haydn Beck and his family evacuated, not sure whether their house would be standing the next day.

Firefighters stomped on the fire quickly, saving the Beck family abode and other houses near Ramsey Road.

Out of gratitude, the 20-year-old began cooking for firefighters, putting together lunches and dinners. On Tuesday, he served up some tri-tip for lunch.

“It’s good stuff,” firefighter John Rutherford said appreciatively, making himself a sandwich with the beef.

Rutherford and other firefighters, covered in ash and dirt, enjoyed the home-cooked meals served right near the fire line. Haydn’s mother, Karen Beck, said it’s in her son’s nature to show his appreciation.

“He’s got a good heart, and he wants to help people,” she said.

Karen Beck said she survived the 1994 Hull Mountain fire that scorched the same area as the Ramsey Canyon fire, so she knew what to expect. Her son wasn’t even alive for that fire.

On a table set up near the front gate, her son offered the tri-tip, bread, bags of chips and a cooler full of drinks. He even had bags of jerky so the firefighters had something to snack on while they worked.

“I figured since I was going to barbecue for my family, I might as well barbecue for the firefighters,” Haydn said.

On a given day, he’s cooked up to seven dozen hamburgers or five dozen hot dogs. He smoked and barbecued six tri-tips, which firefighters said was cooked to perfection.

“We have a lot of traffic in and out of here,” Haydn said.

Some firefighters forgot their bag lunches and were thankful for the feast he prepared.

Haydn was home-schooled and has gone to Rogue Community College. He was also active in 4-H.

After the fire started, Haydn said he stayed until 1:30 a.m., when he realized he’d better evacuate. He returned early the next morning to find firefighters had kept the blaze far from his family’s property.

Standing next to his gate, Haydn could see the blackened hills, with curls of smoke in various places. From his vantage point, there were no active flames on the hills.

Wildland firefighters typically eat about 6,000 calories a day to keep up with the vigorous work they do.

Mop-up operations require clambering up steep mountains and digging into the dirt to find smoldering root systems. Some hillsides look like they’ve been worked over by a rototiller.

Ashley Lertora, public information officer for the Ramsey Canyon fire, said fire crews are well fed to make sure they have enough energy to keep up with the work.

“We feed them a good hot breakfast in camp,” said Lertora. “If you eat the same sack lunch each day, I can see why you’d want to eat a barbecue.”

A week after the Ramsey Canyon fire started, it had burned through 1,971 acres and was 70 percent contained, with 750 personnel working to keep the flames away from 315 structures. The cost to contain the fire is currently at $5.9 million. Only one abandoned structure was lost — on the first night of the fire.

Having a ring of roads around the Ramsey Canyon fire gave firefighters good access to establish control lines to protect the many homes in the area, including the Beck family’s.

“We had a lot of good local resources come in quickly, and that gave us a good start,” Lertora said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him @reporterdm.

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Firefighter Logan Betty from La Grande works on eating a burger prepared by Haydn Beck at his home near the Ramsey fire Tuesday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Firefighter John Rutherford works on eating a tri-tip sandwich near the Ramsey fire Tuesday.