Fire threatens gas station
It was mutual aid to the rescue.A lot of things could have gone wrong when a structure fire broke out around 4:45 p.m. right behind a gas station. But once firefighters arrived on the scene, everything went right.A structure behind the Shell Westmart convenience store and Geno’s Liquors at the intersection of Mel Ray Road and Highway 6 caught fire and quickly moved to a second structure. The buildings were once home to a discount store and at another time a carpet store but have been empty for a while. According to Glenwood Springs Fire Chief Mike Piper, the convenience store and liquor store sustained smoke damage, but the structures didn’t appear to have sustained any fire damage.”I think it was a good exercise in how we work together. Without Carbondale and Burning Mountains we’d be in dire straits,” Piper said. “But that’s what we do, we rely on mutual aid. When we need them, we call, when they need us, they call us.”With the West Glenwood Fire Station literally a couple hundred feet away, the location of the fire normally would have been a quick trip for firefighters. But that station’s truck and firefighters were out on another emergency call for an injury accident near No Name.Piper said Glenwood’s Engine 52 arrived first on the scene followed closely by volunteers from Carbondale Fire and Burning Mountains.In all, there were 45 firefighters on the scene that drew a large group of onlookers as thick white smoke billowed from the structures and flames shot into the air.One onlooker was Clifford Campbell, who was behind the counter at the convenience store when the fire erupted.”I was working inside so I didn’t really hear anything,” said Campbell, who was still a little rattled as firefighters fought the blaze. “We had a tanker here and he sped off real fast. I went outside and saw some ash hit the ground. That’s when I knew something’s not right, then I saw a plume of smoke.”Campbell went back inside and ushered a pair of customers out, then took flight himself. “I made sure all the customers were out then I ran across the street [to the Amoco station],” Campbell said.His vehicle remained parked in front of the store.Campbell, 27, who has worked at the store for six years, said it was a nerve-wracking experience.”It’s been the most interesting day on the job by far,” he said. “I’m just glad everyone got out.”The liquor store has a separate entrance and was not open Sunday.Piper said it’s too early to determine a cause for the fire, adding that an investigation will follow.Some witnesses reported seeing some children near where the blaze started. Amoco cashier Chris Seckler had gotten off the bus at 4:30 and punched in for his shift a short time later when things got real chaotic.”Somebody ran in and said there was a fire and to call 911,” he said. At about the same time he said some kids came in and asked to use the company phone.”They called their mom and told her that there was a fire and to come and pick them up,” he said. “It didn’t click right away but that’s not natural. If there’s a fire, I think they’d want to hang out and watch it.”Piper said there were no injuries, but one Carbondale firefighter was treated for minor overheating.Geno Yellico, co-owner of the convenience and liquor stores, said he was worried about the businesses but didn’t know what kind of damage they’d sustained.Piper said the blaze offered several challenges, including a gas station, utility poles and lines, and natural gas meters close by. All gas and utilities were quickly shut off and firefighters kept pouring water on the gas pumps as other members fought the blaze.Having kept the blaze limited to the empty structures, Piper was very happy with the effort.”Everyone here did a great job,” he said.Piper said it being Easter Sunday, it was a clear demonstration of the dedication of the volunteer effort of Carbondale and Burning Mountains.”This is a holiday and for those volunteers to come out and fight this fire really go above and beyond,” Piper said.Carbondale Fire Chief Ron Leach said the Glenwood department needs to be recognized for its effort too.”I think the Glenwood Springs department did an outstanding job considering what they were facing,” Leach said about the multiple emergency calls coming in close to the same time.Piper said that all roads closed because of the fire should be reopened by morning unless some unforeseen circumstances came up.
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