Glenwood fire: A financial toll |

Glenwood fire: A financial toll

Greg Mass

The financial toll of the Coal Seam Fire on Glenwood Springs was still far from being counted Monday, as smoke drifted menacingly in the hills above the city.”That’s the thing about an emergency like this. Cost isn’t even a secondary consideration,” said Glenwood Springs police chief Terry Wilson.Preliminary cost estimates weren’t available Monday, nor were losses in revenue for city businesses. It will likely be days before such numbers can be assessed.”At this point we’re just happy that the buildings are still standing,” city clerk Robin Clemons said.”We don’t know yet moneywise,” city manager Mike Copp said. “Obviously the town being shut down is going to hurt us.”It could take several days to determine infrastructure losses, such as burned power lines, poles and other city equipment that were located in the path of the fire, Copp said.”The main thing we want to make sure is that we have enough help, and that we don’t lose anything else,” he said.Copp also explained the details behind the dramatic retrieval of chlorine cylinders as the fire closed in on the city water plant Saturday.While firefighters were backburning areas near the water plant, two city water department employees, Warren Hayes and Dennis Christie, braved the nearby flames and moved a cylinder full of 2 1/2 tons of liquid chlorine out of harm’s way.”They went above and beyond the call of duty,” Copp said.Glenwood Springs public works director Robin Millyard said although the water plant was saved, residents should conserve, or even halt, water use as much as possible so it will be available for firefighters if needed.The suspected origin of the fire was in the area of the South Canyon Dump, but amazingly the dump itself came out in good shape.”From what we know, it hasn’t been affected too badly,” Copp said.The Caca Loco composting operation, however, sustained some damage.”Some of his composting materials are on fire,” Copp said.Glenwood Springs fire chief Mike Piper, who was also extremely busy on Monday, said cost estimates for his department were also unavailable.”The first 24 hours of this thing is basically free,” Piper said. “After 24 hours, the federal firefighters came in.”Once they sort everything out, the department will dole out any payments that need to be made, he said. There are no estimates for how much overtime pay would be needed because members of the fire department were still working.”Obviously we’ll have some expenses and we don’t know what they’ll be yet,” he said.Piper was in the process of cleaning up Station No. 2, the downtown station, and even though his troops were part of the firefighting effort, he said he was trying to get back to some semblance of normalcy.”We still have mutual aid ambulance and structure protection,” he said. “We’re getting our stations back in order.”Station No. 2 was used as a main staging area during the first 24 hours or so of the fire, but the main staging area was moved, allowing Piper and others to reclaim the station.”We’re back in the fire station. We’re going to keep this thing as de-escalated as much as possible – as long as the winds cooperate,” Piper said around noon on Monday.Glenwood Springs police chief Terry Wilson said his job has been to act as the law enforcement branch manager. His main job had been assessing which roads should be opened and placing law enforcement personnel in areas where roads were closed.”We’re trying to maintain some sense of normalcy in traffic areas,” he said.Wilson allowed Midland Avenue to open between the 114 interchange of Interstate 70 and the Eighth Street Bridge. At noon he also said electricity was restored to most of West Glenwood.”We’re trying to make sure everything is safe,” he said.Wilson explained that on a normal summer day, he would have three to four officers on the street. But on Monday, there were around 50 law enforcement personnel on the street, including National Guardsmen and others.”It very well might affect my budget, but there will be emergency reimbursement,” Wilson said.Some of that reimbursement will come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, of FEMA. For the eighth time this year, FEMA has authorized federal funds to help fight a wildfire in the state, the agency reported.”FEMA director Joe M. Allbaugh approved the state’s latest request for federal fire management assistance earlier this evening when it became clear that the blaze was a threat to hundreds of homes and businesses,” a FEMA news release said.? The American Red Cross has established a relocation center for evacuees at the Colorado Mountain College Spring Valley Campus, 3000 County Road 114. The center will remain open until further notice. Call 945-7481.? The American Red Cross has established an information center at Glenwood Springs High School, 1340 Pitkin Ave., for people who have been affected by the fire. The shelter will remain open from morning to night until further notice. Spanish interpretation is available.? The Glenwood Springs Post Office can’t deliver mail to the areas of town that have been evacuated. However, Postmaster Tony Ramirez said that mail is still being sorted, and residents who have been evacuated from their homes can pick up their mail between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily at the post office. Identification may be required.? Bank of Colorado has established a relief fund for the victims of the Coal Seam Fire. Donations can be sent to: Coal Seam Fire Disaster Relief Fund, c/o Bank of Colorado, P.O. Box 520, Glenwood Springs, CO 81602. Cash donations will be accepted at Bank of Colorado branches in Glenwood Springs, Basalt, Craig and Grand Junction. The Glenwood Springs and Basalt offices are also drop points for the American Red Cross. Donations of blankets, towels and personal toiletries can be dropped at these offices. For bank hours, visit Alpine Bank has established, with an initial donation of $25,000, an account for the victims of the Coal Seam Fire. Cash donations may be made to the Coal Seam Fire Disaster Relief Fund, account number 1010296333, and taken to any Alpine Bank or mailed to P.O. Box 10000, Glenwood Springs, CO 81602. Donations of food, clothing and personal items may be taken to any Alpine Bank during regular business hours. Items will be distributed to the proper agencies and locations. For details, call John Cooper at 384-3247, or your local Alpine Bank. For information on how to apply for these funds, call the American Red Cross Relocation Center at 945-7481.? Alpine Bank is offering interest-free loans for victims of the fire. Money can be used to provide living expenses while insurance reimbursements are being processed. Apply within the next 90 days at Glenwood Springs Alpine Bank, 2200 Grand Ave.? Alpine Bank customers directly impacted by the fire have a 90-day payment deferral on any existing loans held by the bank. Please call 945-2424 to alert Alpine Bank staff if this applies to you.? Crisis counseling for victims of the Coal Seam Fire is available at the American Red Cross information center, located at Glenwood Springs High School, 1340 Pitkin Ave. The center is open during daylight hours until further notice. Those in need of counseling can call 384-5598.? Travelers Insurance Company will set up a Catastrophe Unit at Glenwood Insurance, 1605 Grand Ave. (next to True Value), late in the afternoon on Wednesday, June 12. The unit will assist people who have insurance claims with Travelers related to the Coal Seam Fire and will remain in town until further notice.? St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, 546 Hyland Park Dr. (adjacent to Sayre Park), has clothing, some food, blankets and other bedding, toiletries, personal items, books and toys that have been donated for fire victims. Stop by the church between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., through Friday, June 14, for assistance. No more donations at this time, please. For details, call 945-6423.? City Markets in Glenwood Springs, El Jebel and Carbondale are accepting donations of cash and food for victims and emergency workers. Call your local City Market for details.? Bagel Bites, 725 Grand Ave., is providing free Internet access to those displaced by the fire.? Colorado Animal Rescue, 3801 County Road 114, is offering temporary care of dogs and cats. They do not need any food, but could use more cat litter. CARE rescued 15 pets form homes in evacuated areas and is in need of foster homes. Anyone who is willing to provide temporary shelter for cats, dogs, birds, or fish, or who needs more information can call 947-9173.? Horse and other large animal owners whose property has been affected by the fire can call 384-2512 for information on where to bring their animals.? Fred Sefcovic, who lives on Cattle Creek Road, has offered a dry lot for horse storage. He also has a horse trailer to help move animals, pending availability of police escort. Call 945-6898 or 384-2512 for details.? John Cardinale of Silt has a 3-horse trailer and is willing to transport horses and small livestock. Call 876-5669 or 274-0172 for details.? The Federal Emergency Management Agency Region VIII has updated its website to feature current wildfire news and information. The new website is located at The website features checklists and guides to help residents and communities prepare for the wildfire season. Information is updated daily.GENERAL INFORMATIONRobert Brokering, Garfield County Public Health Officer, advises that children, the elderly and those with breating conditions such as emphysema or asthma, should stay indoors during smoky conditions.? State, district and county courts in Glenwood Sprigns will be open for normal operations today.? The Garfield County Courthouse and all county offices will re-open today.? Garfield County’s fire ban is extended for 30 days, and includes bans on fireworks displays.CANCELLATIONS & CLOSURES? CMC’s Spring Valley Campus, Carbondale District Office and Blake Campus remains closed. A decision will be made today on extending the closure. CMC is encouraging employees to volunteer at the Red Cross shelter set up at CMC’s Spring Valley campus. Nursing and police academy students should contact their professors about where to meet for classes over the next few days.? All Roaring Fork Re-1 School District summer and Project Star classes have been canceled for the week of June 10-14. Call the district office at 384-6000 for more information.? All Kids Camp, adult soccer and other activities at the Glenwood Springs Recreation Department have been canceled until further notice. Call the recreation department at 384-6301 for details.? The trees workshop with Vince Urbina, scheduled for Thursday, June 27, has been postponed. Call 927-8214 for details.? Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts, located at 601 East Sixth Street, has been evacuated. Classes are canceled this week and will resume Monday, June 17.? The Thursday, June 13, dinner of the Glenwood Springs Christian Women’s After Five Dinner Club has been canceled. Call Jean at 945-6602, or e-mail for details.

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