At one time Denise Greif cooked for crowds at logging camps and fed crews on Alaskan fishing boats.
Today she feeds workers at her Molalla, Ore., Christmas tree farm, runs a CSA and sells baked goods, produce and homegrown meat locally.
That experience paid off recently as she became a major source of meals for the crews battling wildfires nearby.
Shortly after Labor Day the Beachie Creek Fire started gaining momentum on its path toward Molalla, gobbling up forests and threatening the homes belonging to the people who live in the tightknit logging community.
Greif evacuated her animals, got water going on the roof of her home and began filling one need after another.
Her friends, Jeff and Gayla Hansen, had offered their shop on Sawtell Road as a makeshift command center and base. It was just a mile or two from the fire’s edge.
She went there, began cooking and didn’t leave. She made breakfast, lunch and dinner for the crews continuously for 10 days.
“It was easy for them to stop and grab something to eat, and if we saw someone heading up the hill we’d shove a bunch of sandwiches or burritos or hamburgers into their rig to take farther up the hill.”
Word travels fast when there’s food involved and people knew they could stop in any time and be provided with something hot and hearty to eat.
“It was good for me because it kept me busy,” she said. “If I wasn’t able to be in there doing something useful, I would have gone stir crazy.”
“I don’t really think that I did anything; I just cooked, that’s it,” she said. “It’s something I can practically do with my eyes shut.”