Basalt fire disrupts, businesses, events, air travel and more | AspenTimes.com

Basalt fire disrupts, businesses, events, air travel and more

The Lake Christine Fire is visible from downtown Basalt on Wednesday. As of noon Thursday, the fire was burning 4,900 acres and was at zero percent containment.

As residents in the Basalt area are scrambling to stay safe and find shelter Thursday, a number of events have been canceled and businesses temporarily closed due to the threat posted by the Lake Christine Fire.

"Right now we're in the phase of just trying to deal with the current situation," said Kris Mattera, executive director of the Basalt Chamber of Commerce shortly after 11 a.m. Thursday. "I don't want to say 'survival,' but the most immediate concern is safety. We're all taking it minute by minute."

The chamber is located on Midland Avenue in what's known as Old Town Basalt, which sits below one of the residential areas that has been evacuated due to the fire that ignited late Tuesday afternoon at the Basalt shooting range. Midland Avenue has been closed since 3 p.m. Wednesday.

The bulk of commercial flights to and from Aspen-Pitkin County also were canceled Thursday due to a temporary airspace restriction over the Lake Christine area enacted by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The fire also has caused mail-delivery disruptions, according to a tweet from the United States Postal Service on Thursday morning. "The #LakeChristineFire is impacting @USPS mail delivery. We cannot get to about 400 homes in Carbondale and another 200 in Basalt. We are holding mail, including checks and medications, at the Post Office. Bring ID please. Go away fire! Come rain!" the USPS tweeted.

The Basalt Library remained open and was offering its place as a venue for anybody affected by the blaze. "If you've been evacuated and need a place to work or hang out, please come in and see us," the library tweeted. "Public computers, free Wifi, coffee and tea, use the lobby (where conversation is welcome) or the library for quiet study/work. Let us know how we can help."

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Colorado Mountain College's campuses at Spring Valley, Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Aspen are open but only with limited staff. CMC's ESL classes in Basalt and Aspen, as well as its fitness class in Basalt, have been cancelled through Monday, while no classes are being held at the Spring Valley campus for the time being. Also, the art opening planned for Thursday night at CMC Aspen is postponed indefinitely, the school said.

There was a possibility that Aspen's drone-laser show, scheduled for the Fourth of July, would be held Thursday, but the Aspen Chamber Resort Association elected to cancel the event.

All weekend programming scheduled at The Temporary performing arts venue at Willits has been canceled, including tonight's scheduled concert by cellist and singer-songwriter Ben Sollee. Sollee's performance scheduled for Friday at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen also has been cancelled "due to travel disruptions and for the safety of staff and residents that live downvalley," said spokeswoman Kami Gantt of Texas-based SoloShoe Communications LLC in an email to The Aspen Times.

The Aspen Animal Shelter's 4th Annual Dog Day Afternoon Community Carnival, a fundraiser scheduled for Sunday, also has been canceled.

"We hope we can find a new date soon," said organizer Bland Nesbit.

Some business in Aspen and Snowmass Village have also closed due to the fire, including Big Hoss Grill in the Snowmass Mall.

"Due to safety and concerns for our staff, Big Hoss Grill will be closed," the restaurant posted on Facebook. "We anticipate being open on Friday. Please everyone, be safe. Please understand our staff and their families live in affected areas and many have been evacuated. Thanks for your anticipated cooperation."

Tonight's free-concert series with Glen David Andrews on Fanny Hill in Snowmass remains on, but "right now, only a power outage would cancel the concert," said Snowmass Tourism spokeswoman Sara Stookey Sanchez in an email to the Times.

Most every restaurant in downtown Aspen was prepping for the lunch hour as of 10:30 a.m. Thursday, but Grey Lady had closed its doors until at least 5 p.m.

"Our chef lives downvalley, and we have four or five people in the back of the house downvalley," said restaurant owner Ryan Chadwick. "This is critical for our staff, and obviously we want to give them time to take care of it."

Eagle County District Judge Fred Gannett, who has a home in Basalt, also has cancelled his court docket until further notice, while Eagle County closed its clerk's branch in El Jebel.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

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