Boulder falls into living room
October 4, 2005
Had Angelique Fiorillo been watching television late Tuesday afternoon, “Oprah” might have one less fan today.Fortunately for Fiorillo, she wasn’t in her usual chair in the living room of her apartment on Midland Avenue when a rock came down Red Mountain in Glenwood Springs.It crashed through two walls in the corner of her living room. Many days, Fiorillo said, she would have been sitting in that corner at that time of day, catching “Oprah.””Luckily, I wasn’t watching TV, because very bad stuff would have happened,” she said.”I’m doing OK. I’m alive,” Fiorillo said less than an hour after the rockfall, as she collected items from her apartment and prepared to spend the night with her brother-in-law, Kevin Kneipper, who lives near Glenwood Springs.Fiorillo’s two cats, Odin and Loki, also are fine, though a bit shaken after surviving the incident. She said she found them hiding beneath a dresser in her bedroom.”Luckily none of them ran away. They’re very spooked. It took a while to get them out,” she said.Fiorillo said another rock struck the hood of a truck on Midland at about the same time that her apartment was hit, but no one in the truck was hurt.Fiorillo lives in an end unit of a six-apartment complex on Midland. The surrounding area is prone to rockfalls, particularly when heavy rains loosen the earth on Red Mountain. In April 2004, a rock of about seven feet in length landed in the living room of a home on Hager Lane, below the site of Tuesday’s incident, and a second rock ended up in the home’s bedroom. No one was injured, although the home’s owner and a renter were asleep inside.It was raining heavily in Glenwood Springs on Tuesday when a boulder about the size of a coffee table bounced down the mountain, glanced off branches high up a tree and angled through Fiorillo’s second-floor living room. The rock landed in the grass outside, leaving a crater before rolling several more feet to a stop.Fragments of the apartment’s wood-shingled wall covered the grass near the rock. Inside the apartment, some of the tree branches that the rock hit jutted into the hole in the living room. The room’s shredded corner looked like the beginnings of a demolition project.Dust settled into the kitchen, and a small picture frame rested on a kitchen counter after being thrown from the wall where the rock struck. Insulation, glass and pieces of wood littered the kitchen floor.”Do you want to see the toolshed? It’s pretty much nonexistent,” Fiorillo said, heading around back. There, a side of the shed was disintegrated, its pieces sitting inside the shed along with a rock slightly smaller than the one that tore through the living room.Somehow, the eave under a back corner of the apartment roof suffered minor damage, apparently from a rock that bounced off the ground and hit it. Nearby, a chunk had been scraped out of a brick wall, further evidence for anyone interested in trajectories and forensics.Bullets also came to mind as Fiorillo described what she heard when she happened to be at another apartment in the same building as the rocks came down.”It kind of sounds like a gunshot, like an explosion, I don’t know,” she said.When the rocks hit, Fiorillo and the person she was visiting felt the building shake.”We’re like, ‘Oh my God, what is that?'” she said.After she discovered what had happened, she raced to look for her cats, while wondering how many more rocks might fall.”I was afraid, [thinking] what if we’re hit again, for sure I’m a goner,” she said.She said about three other rocks came down outside within minutes of the first ones.Fiorillo’s husband, Richard, was away at work at the time of the incident.She said they moved to Glenwood Springs from Denver in May. While she had been aware of close calls involving rockfall in that part of town in the past, she hadn’t worried about it before Tuesday.Others remained in their apartments at the building Tuesday night, but not Fiorillo – and not just because of the two holes in her living room.”I’m afraid to stay here and have more boulders crashing through,” she said.