Red Cross wrapping up operations in Glenwood | AspenTimes.com

Red Cross wrapping up operations in Glenwood

Allyn Harvey
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Donations to the American Red Cross connected with the fires burning throughout Colorado are keeping up with the costs so far of assisting evacuees and victims.

The Red Cross has set up evacuation and resource centers in several communities around the state that have been affected by fire.

Red Cross volunteers and employees are assisting residents of Glenwood Springs and Garfield County who suffered losses in the Coal Seam fire, which is mostly under control. More pressingly, it is helping thousands from the Durango area, where the Missionary Ridge fire has consumed about 45,000 acres, and the mountain and foothill communities threatened by the massive 120,000-acre Hayman fire southwest of Denver. (See related story, page 5.)

As of Monday, donations and pledges to the Red Cross had exceeded $612,000, according to John Drenth, executive director of the organization’s Western Colorado chapter. Beginning with the Iron Mountain fire outside Colorado Springs that burned 80 homes in May, the cost for fire-related assistance is expected to be somewhere between $700,000 and $1 million, according to Drenth.

Most of the donations are coming from people and organizations on the Front Range.

“We did not undertake an aggressive fund-raising effort in the Glenwood Springs area,” Drenth said. “Most of the dollars are going to come out of the Denver metro area.”

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Except for helping victims cope with their loss of property and possessions, the Red Cross role in Glenwood Springs is winding down. In the second and third days of the Coal Seam fire, the Red Cross was feeding and housing about 300 of the 3,000 people forced to evacuate neighborhoods on Glenwood Springs’ north, west and southwest sides.

Yesterday morning, according to a press release from the Coal Seam fire team, firefighters had achieved 87 percent containment. The size of the crew working the fire had fallen from 625 people on Tuesday to 557 yesterday.

Cooler temperatures and higher humidity forecast for Wednesday were expected to help the remaining crews gain further control over a fire that at one point threatened much of West Glenwood, where 28 homes were reduced to ash on June 8-9.

Fires continue to burn out of control in other parts of the state, however. The Hayman fire has forced thousands out of their homes at its south and north ends and continues to threaten some foothill suburbs of Denver. On Monday, the fire blew through fire lines on its southwest border.

The Missionary Ridge fire north of Durango has been growing each day. It has burned into remote neighborhoods, but firefighters have not been able to return to all the areas to assess the damage because the fire was still burning intensely.

[Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is aharvey@aspentimes.com.]