Firefighters killed in crash to be honored

Portions of downtown Medford and Biddle Road will be closed to traffic at mid-afternoon today to make way for a lengthy memorial procession for two firefighters killed last week in an off-duty crash near Johns Peak.

The 35-engine procession will follow a memorial service for Gale Gurr, 37, and John Wells, 51, who died Thursday after the all-terrain vehicle they were riding in tumbled down a steep slope in the Forest Creek drainage on Johns Peak.

The service will begin at 2 p.m. at the Mountain Christian Fellowship at 1 East Main St. It should last between an hour and an hour and 20 minutes, said Medford Fire Chief Dave Bierwiler.

Afterward, the procession will start from the church and head east on East Eighth Street and north on South Riverside Avenue to Biddle Road. It will end at the Ramada Inn near the north Medford freeway interchange.

In addition, Front Street from Sixth to Main streets will be closed from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to serve as the staging area for the procession. A detour will be available, but motorists should expect delays through the area and are asked to seek alternate routes.

"Firefighters throughout the state will be there to show support," said Medford fire Deputy Chief Larry Anderson.

The procession will feature a flyover by six search-and-rescue helicopters, one of which will carry the large American flag seen flying at the Crater Lake Ford car lot.

The entire Medford Fire Department is expected to attend the memorial service. Emergencies will be covered by engines from Jackson County Fire Districts 3 and 5 as well as engines from the Coos Bay and Klamath County Fire District 1, Anderson said.

"The local fire districts know our town," Bierwiler said. "The public will be covered well."

The church holds 800, but an overflow area might be needed. The department has not determined where this area will be.

"A lot of planning has gone into this," Anderson said. "We have received an outpouring of community support for two of our most popular firefighters."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail

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