Fickle flames level homes, leave others untouched
June 10, 2002
The smoldering hulks of trailer homes in the Robin Hood Mobile Home Park drove home the severity of the disaster yesterday.
Figures like the acres consumed, the percentage contained and the fire-fighting resources available didn’t seem as important any more.
Instead, the remnants of wasted signs of life were a blunt reminder that people’s lives have been ruined, at least temporarily.
Eight trailers and two stick-built homes were leveled at Robin Hood, the epicenter of the fire-swept area in West Glenwood Springs. Most of the trailers were reduced to heavy metal framing. A couple had charred and smoldering remains of roofs draped over the flattened frames.
There were burned carcasses of washing machines, dryers, ranges, garbage cans, bicycles, wagons, bunk beds, a swing set and numerous vehicles.
A cheap patio table survived, plexiglass top intact, although the accompanying trailer was reduced to rubble. A neat row of landscaping-brick pavers proved that someone had devoted a lot of tender loving care to the site. Now there is nothing to come home to.
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Residents weren’t allowed back to their homes in West Glenwood Springs Sunday, but vans took some residents on a tour of the area to check their property. Vans also provided special media tours.
The entire west side of Robin Hood Mobile Home Park was flattened by the firestorm. Some of it still smoldered 14 hours after is was engulfed in the inferno. The trailer park was abandoned and eerily quiet Sunday except for three Eagle firefighters keeping their eyes peeled for hot spots. Some people left in such a rush that they left their doors open, noted a firefighter.
The three trailers that survived at Robin Hood didn’t do so unscathed. The heat from the burning trailers right next door curled and buckled their outer shells.
A road in the small mobile home park about a mile west of the West Glenwood Mall provided a distinct line – on the west side was utter destruction, on the east was relative safety.
Gregg Rippy, a state representative and a resident of a neighborhood up the hillside from Robin Hood, toured the area as firefighters were preparing to try to stop the flames Saturday night.
“They said, ‘This is ground zero. This is our line. This is where we’re stopping it,'” said Rippy.
They stopped the fire from marching east into the heavily populated portions of West Glenwood Springs and into Glenwood itself. The damage east of Robin Hood was limited to seven of 50 mobile homes in the Storm King Mobile Home Park – immediately adjacent to the other trailer park.
While firefighters stopped the flames from spreading in West Glenwood, Mother Nature also randomly picked and chose where to go. Ami’s Acres, a trailer and RV park, was spared even though it was close to the point where the flames leaped over the Colorado River and Interstate 70.
The hillside across the river had been ablaze Saturday afternoon and evening, according to Garfield County Commissioner John Martin. The heat had been so intense from the fire across the river that it could be felt in Ami’s Acres.
After leaving the hillside south of the river devastated of vegetation, the fire continued to burn in spots Sunday afternoon. Further to the east, on the broad meadows of the Wulfsohn Ranch, the blackened earth came within 100 yards of three new government structures – the community center, RFTA bus barn and municipal operations center. None of the three were believed damaged by the blaze.
The fire had also jumped over Ami’s Acres and was racing up the steep terrain northeast of Storm King Mountain toward the Flattops.
Gov. Bill Owens, who toured the damaged areas with a van of reporters, noted that “all of Colorado is on fire.” Six of the fires were deemed significant enough for the federal government to take over management.
“This fire is Colorado’s priority,” Owens announced to a crowd of more than 150 reporters and residents at a press conference.