Front Range fire evacuees take refuge in Summit County
Summit Daily News
Tina Pittman Wagers and her family will be heading for their second home in Frisco this weekend, not for recreation, but for refuge.
Wagers lives in the Devil’s Thumb area in Boulder and was packing up Wednesday afternoon to evacuate as she watched flames from the Flagstaff fire creep closer and closer to her home.
“It’s in my backyard,” she said Wednesday. “I’m looking at it. I’m packing up my stuff and evacuating my house. … It’s a little closer to home than you probably expected.”
Wagers is one of thousands receiving evacuation orders as wildfires across the state begin to spread into residential and urban areas, and she isn’t the only one seeking shelter in (so far) fire-free Summit County.
Local hotels reported influxes of evacuees from Colorado Springs and across the Front Range Wednesday as hotel rooms in Denver filled up.
They’re choosing Summit because, “one, it’s a little bit safer and two, they figure if they go anywhere they might as well go someplace where it’s beautiful,” said Kyle Meyers, a front desk agent at the Holiday Inn in Frisco, who estimated business had tripled Wednesday from a normal week day.
Meanwhile, with the threat of wildfire looming here as well, High Country residents are watching in horror at the devastation and searching for ways to assist family and friends impacted by the fires.
“My first thought is that I feel helpless,” said Avon resident Heather Christie, whose father and stepmother fled fires near Colorado Springs on Saturday. “It’s my own family, you’d think you’d know what to do. But there’s nothing I really can do.”
Though her family is safe, they sustained hard losses, including her brother’s artwork. Christie’s parents are now staying with other relatives in Pueblo.
“I would be happy to have them come here, except I’m worried that we’re going to go up,” she said.
Instead, Christie is fighting feelings of helplessness by lending a hand to the emergency agencies on the Front Range. She’ll be collecting supplies for pets and humans to donate to relief efforts.
Restaurants and a Breckenridge preschool are also taking up donation efforts as locals search for ways to help.
“I just think it’s a good idea. People have lost everything,” said Lucha Cantina Mexican Restaurant owner Chuck Holcolmb Wednesday. “I was getting calls at 7 a.m. (from employees) saying, ‘what can we do? What can we do?'”
Holcolmb, who is collecting clothing donations at restaurant locations in Breckenridge and Georgetown today, said the church one of his employees grew up attending in Colorado Springs had burned down, and her brother’s high school was also at risk.
While local fire departments are on the lookout for ignitions in Summit County, they’re also on standby for the Front Range fires, ready to help if they’re needed down the hill.
“We have not been invited to the party yet,” Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue spokesman Steve Lipsher said. “Will we get a call? Maybe and maybe not, but we are available and we are eager to help our neighbors if they ask for us.”
With Summit facing the severe threat of wildfires as well, Lipsher said local fire departments do reap benefits from assisting with outside fires.
“It helps them and it gives our guys added experience,” Lipsher said. “It also builds good will. If we get something, we’re going to be asking for help as well.”
A Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District team returned last night from a 14-day stint assisting with the High Park Fire. Local crews were stationed on the northwest flank with a wildfire engine when the blaze made an aggressive run in the Glacier View area.
Teams from both departments are currently listed as available to assist with other fires across the state if needed.
Colorado Springs – Waldo Canyon fire
> El Paso County Sheriff’s office: Large animal shelter at Norris-Penrose Equestrian Center needs volunteers: (719) 520-7773.
> Do not bring ANY donations to shelters or command posts unless requested on official site – http://www.inciweb.org.
> Pikes Peak Red Cross donations can be made at http://www.pparc.org.
> Goodwill donations can be made at http://www.discovermygoodwill.org.
> The Red Cross in Colorado Springs is at (719) 632-3563. Those wanting to donate money to the Red Cross can call or go to http://www.denver-redcross.org
Larimer County – High Park fire
> http://www.helpcoloradonow.org has a list of donations needed and Fort Collins location for drop-off.
> The Salvation Army can take monetary donations; specify ‘Northern Colorado Chapter – High Park Fire’ or ‘Northern Colorado Chapter – Waldo Fire: 303-866-9216, The Salvation Army, 1370 Pennsylvania Ave., Denver, CO 80132.
> Donate online to Larimer Humane Society or mail checks to 5137 S. College Ave., Fort Collins, CO 80525. Society currently coordinating rescue of all animals in High Park Fire area, providing water to animals that have not been evacuated, reuniting owners and pets and sheltering evacuated animals: (970) 226-3647, ext. 7.
> Text HIGHPARK to 80108 to donate $10 for fire relief in northern Colorado through The mGive Foundation: mgivefoundation.org
> Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department Donations can be mailed to: RCVFD-Treasurer, PO Box 2, Bellvue, CO 80521.
This information was provided by the Denver Post.
Drop off donations
Local Heather Christie, whose family are evacuees of the Waldo Canyon Fire will be collecting donations at CMC campuses today. Christie will pick up donations for the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region from the Edwards campus at 10 a.m., the Breckenridge campus at 12 p.m. and the Dillon campus at 1 p.m. Lists of needed items and a link to make monetary donations is available online at bit.ly/LxQkIO. Those interested in donating should contact Heather Christie at (970) 485-3175.
Lucha Cantina Mexican restaurants in Breckenridge and Georgetown will also have donation boxes for clothing out today.
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