Su Lum: What’s burning?
It’s a little ironic that a fire prevention ad caused me to miss the fire at The Aspen Times last Thursday afternoon, the biggest event in my 37 years there. I’m sure my oxygen tank could have added to the excitement. I had been trying to get away to the Sport Obermeyer sale at the Airport Business Center, because it was the last day of it and the bargains my co-workers had been bagging were preying heavily on my mind.However, there was this fire ban ad for the county, placed by the sheriff’s department, that was, for reasons way too complicated to explain, stuck in our production department, and it was almost 2:30 before I learned that it was still going to be awhile and made a dash for the sale. I was probably in the middle of the roundabout when the sirens went off, and as I was wandering through the warehouse making addle-brained winter jacket choices, my co-workers were streaming out of the building with the dogs and engaging in an impromptu beer party on the lawn of the Hotel Jerome while firefighters in full regalia were entering the Times building.It was probably when I realized that I was carrying a white ski jacket and was hastily putting it back that Hilary Burgess ran back into the smoke-filled ad office to make sure that my dachshund, Trudy, wasn’t still under my desk.I didn’t linger long at the sale, but by then I was thoroughly pooped and having a protein-lack attack and had to go home to pick up Trudy, who had been left behind because I thought I was going straight to the sale after dealing with the fire ad, which was still on Barbara New’s screen when the smoke alarms blew.If I had taken the logical route down Main Street, I would have seen the fire engines, the onlookers and my partying co-workers and could at least have taken part in the rehash, but Main Street looked especially congested (I now know why!) so I turned off and took the long way to Durant, drank a slug of milk and pulled the covers over my head – and that’s where I was when the phone rang and I first learned what had happened. In retrospect, it was probably just as well that I missed it. In the drama of sirens, smoke, flames and fire engines, I probably would have had hysterics at the prospect of my home away from home being reduced to ashes, but still, a part of me says, “Damn! I missed it!”I was exhorted to stay away because of the smoke, but there was still that &%$#@! fire ad to deal with, plus I had to see the damage with my own eyes and hear the second wave of rehash with my own ears. The place smelled like a wet cat bonfire, but all we lost was the inner wall of an old darkroom, set ablaze when plumbers were sealing off some old pipes with a blowtorch.Say what you will about the old building being a tinderbox, but when my daughter, Hillery, was living in a teepee up Castle Creek, she said they never used The Aspen Times to start the woodstove because it didn’t burn well – Denver Post, yes; Daily News, yes; but never the Times. She thought it was something in the ink.I had just finished making the rounds and getting everyone’s versions of the event when the fire ban ad was finally completed and I could enter it into the computers and check it off my list.I should not have been surprised when the first message on my voice mail the next day said that two versions of the fire ad had been sent, and we had run the wrong one.Su Lum is a longtime local who was really pissed about missing the party. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.
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“The fire season is now a year-round reality in many areas, requiring firefighters and residents to be on heightened alert for the threat of wild-land fire.”