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Heat Seeking Human Missiles

by Doug Houston |

In a quest to find the "toughest tongue in town," a smokejumper outlasted a Klingon and a roller derby queen to take home the crown.

Ray Rubio, 40, a smokejumping firefighter from Redmond, at 23 Great Balls of Fire at Salvador Molly's restaurant to win the competition, edging out Jim Colvill, who represented the Klingon nation, dressed from head to toe in Star Trek regalia. Rubio was decked out in 90 pounds of firefighting equipment as he sweated away, popping the searing habanero-and-cheese fritters like they were candy.

A motley crew of seven "tough" folks braved the heat last Saturday for the sixth annual contest, which kicked off a monthlong fund-raiser for Oregon Heat, a nonprofit organization that helps Oregon's needier families pay their winter heating bill.

Rubio, Colvill, a pirate, a roller derby queen, a beer truck driver, an Ultimate Sport Fighter and a punk rock girl all ate at a long table with glasses of juice and Pepto Bismol. The pirate and the punk dropped out at the first break, with the truck driver and the Ultimate Sport Fighter shortly after.

Rubio and Colvill made it interesting, matching each other as sweat poured down their faces. Colvill proved that even Klingons are mortal, ending with 20. Rubio quietly finished his 23rd and took home a prize package of Salvador Molly's swag-a basket of hot sauces. "My gut is St. Helens right now," said Rubio, who has won other eating contests such as Spam and moose meat. He once faced off again an Alaskan jumper in a test of guts and will, winning out with 8 cans of Spam in his stomach. Uh ah.

The contest now opens up to the public. Anyone who eats the most Great Balls of Fire at one sitting during the month of February at either Salvador Molly's location will be crowned the King or Queen of Heat on March 6, with bragging rights for a year.