Postal service disrupted
June 11, 2002
Mail service throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and much of western Colorado was disrupted Monday by the fire raging at the edge of Glenwood Springs.
U.S. Postal Service employees were ordered to abandon a key mail sorting facility in West Glenwood Saturday night as the Coal Seam fire marched over Red Mountain.
Jim Fait, a supervisor at the Glenwood Springs post office, said all of the mail bound for addresses with zip codes beginning with the digits 816 were affected. The facility sorts an average of more than 500,000 letters a day. In all, 32 communities, from Vail to Aspen to Durango to Mesa, saw delivery disrupted to some extent.
“We delivered everything we could on Monday,” Fait said. But, he noted, the volume of mail sent out for delivery was only a fraction of normal.
Service began to return to normal as the mail that had been bottled up by the closure of Interstate 70 Saturday night arrived in Glenwood throughout the day on Monday.
The sorting facility remained off-limits throughout Monday. Postal employees spent the day unloading trucks filled with mail bound for addresses throughout the Western Slope. Much of the first-class mail arrived from Denver presorted, so it will be delivered today, Fait said.
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Outbound mail is being forwarded to Grand Junction, where it will be sorted, postmarked and sent on for delivery.
Fait said the last of the mail left behind in the West Glenwood sorting facility was retrieved Monday afternoon and brought to the post office in downtown Glenwood.
The big challenge for postal workers Monday afternoon was the trucks arriving with unsorted packages. Fait said the Glenwood Springs facility once served as a sorting center, but no longer has the equipment needed to efficiently separate packages by zip code. Until officials decide to allow postal workers back into the West Glenwood facility, the work will have to be done by hand.
The Coal Seam fire started in South Canyon, immediately west of the city, at about 1 p.m. Saturday. By 6 p.m. Monday night it had consumed about 10,000 acres.
As of last night, the entire West Glenwood area remained off-limits to everyone except firefighters.