Relief effort under way for Basalt fire victims | AspenTimes.com

Relief effort under way for Basalt fire victims

John Colson
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT – The victims of a fire that displaced 33 residents of an apartment complex near here still are in need of help, said two local women working on the relief effort.

“This has been a huge, huge community effort,” said Rita Strong of the American Red Cross. “We’ve got nine families that, well, they’re starting over.”

Vectra Bank, with branches throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, is collecting cash donations in jars positioned in the banks’ lobbies.

The cash is collected and converted to a cashier’s check, which is sent to the Red Cross, Strong said.

Those who wish to donate with a check, she said, can send it to the bank at 506 Gunnison Ave., Grand Junction, Colorado, 81501, made out to the Red Cross and with 7 Castles Apartment Fire written on the memo line.

Or, Strong said, donations can be made on the Red Cross website, at http://www.coloradoredcross.org, by clicking on the Western Colorado Chapter and looking for the 7 Castles donation form.

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The families in 10 of the 11 apartments in the complex at 4959 Frying Pan Road (the 11th was vacant at the time), were roused from their evening activities at close to 7 p.m. on Dec. 16, when building owner Robyn Lawry went from door to door to alert people to the fire.

Lowry, according to a news account, had learned of smoke emanating from the building when a tenant called her at 6:38 p.m., at her house two miles from the complex.

Strong and others have been working since the fire to help the affected families by arranging housing, finding clothes for them to wear and other necessities of life.

She urged anyone interested in helping the victims to bring bedding or food items to the Two Rivers Cafe, or take donations of toys to Phoenix Fitness Gym.

“The toys are really important,” noted Strong, explaining that the families have lost their Christmas goods as well as everything else.

Shawn Hunsberger, owner of Phoenix Fitness Gym, is collecting the donated toys, Strong said.

The toys will be boxed, wrapped and delivered by the Red Cross, she added, noting that the children left homeless and toyless by the fire are between the ages of two months and 15 years.

“Right now, we’re not taking any more clothes,” said Audrey Medina, manager at the Two Rivers Cafe where relief supplies are being collected thanks to owners Rick Kane and Patrick Breed.

But, she added, there is still a need for bedding and holiday food items for the families.

The fire destroyed six of 11 units in the complex and reportedly was sparked by a plumber’s torch.

None of the residents were injured, nor were any of the Basalt firefighters who responded to the blaze.

Though the families were left without places to live, Strong said the problem was solved by an immediate outpouring of support and offers of places to stay.

“You wouldn’t believe how well Basalt has jumped in and donated,” Medina declared. “They’re so wonderful, the people of Basalt and the surrounding area.”

Aside from the donations from Basalt residents, Strong said, people living in Glenwood Springs have been depositing goods at Vectra Bank, which Strong said is not the appropriate place for such donations.

Those wanting to donate household goods, bedding or other such items should take them to the Defiance Thrift Store, she said, which has agreed to allow the fire victims to come in and get whatever they need.

jcolson@postindependent.com

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