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Carbondale comes to aid of neighboring community

Carbondale joined other neighboring communities in opening its hearts and homes to help victims of the devastating wildfire that continues to rage in and around Glenwood Springs.John and Ashley Traylor of Carbondale were among the many residents who offered a place to stay for evacuated Glenwood residents and travelers stranded as a result of the Interstate 70 closure.”We got a call around midnight from the Comfort Inn & Suites, and we ended up with two couples, with a 2-month-old and a 3-year-old boy, who couldn’t get back to their home in Rifle,” John Traylor said. “Whenever something like this happens, I think most people feel compelled to help in any way they can.”Karen Comings, a teacher at Sopris Elementary School in Glenwood Springs who lives in Carbondale, opened her home to fellow teachers who had to leave their homes in Glenwood Springs.”We called as many people as we knew to see who needed help and offer what help we could,” Comings said as she and her family gathered clothes and food to take to the Red Cross shelter at Spring Valley.”It’s sad. I’ve talked to people whose homes may no longer be there,” she said.Officially, Carbondale and Basalt fire departments were serving as satellite command posts.The Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District had 30 volunteers on scene in Glenwood Springs Sunday afternoon and another 30 at the main station in Carbondale helping switch crews in and out, said CRFPD volunteer Katie Blue.The Basalt and Rural Fire Protection District had five engines and an ambulance in Glenwood along with a number of volunteers on scene and back at the station.”We’re coordinating our district’s efforts to stand people down as required, and also trying to take care of our district,” deputy Basalt fire chief Frank Seymour-Rudecoff said.Carbondale Middle School also became a temporary Garfield County jail for an undisclosed number of inmates who were evacuated from the county jail in Glenwood. It was unclear Sunday afternoon how long they may have to remain.Colorado Rocky Mountain School was also on standby to serve as a possible National Guard staging facility.Parking lots at Carbondale’s three motels and the Cowen Center convenience store were buzzing well into the night Saturday as many of the thousands of people who were evacuated from homes and other motels in West Glenwood made an exodus up valley.”It was pretty crazy here last night,” Debbie Bethel, a desk clerk at the Carbondale Days Inn, said as she fielded calls late Sunday morning from people trying to locate family members and friends. “We were just trying to get as many people in here as we could.”It was much the same at the Comfort Inn & Suites next door.”We probably had 200 people looking for rooms here last night,” Comfort Inn Manager Eileen Tucker said. “This morning, we had cats and dogs and even birds in the lobby,” she said of evacuees who had quickly gathered up their pets and belongings before fleeing the Glenwood area.Comfort Inn and a number of Aspen lodges were offering room deals for Glenwood Springs evacuees, she said.”A lot of our guests who were already staying here also offered for people to stay with them in their rooms,” Tucker said.”A lot of people around here have just been in shock.”Libby Shulton and Jeannie Donofrio were among the people who came to Carbondale after evacuating their Chelyn Acres homes up Four Mile Road.Late Sunday morning at the Comfort Inn, Donofrio was busy unloading her car, including her six Yorkshire terriers and a friend’s Pomeranian she was watching, as well as three cats. Shulton takes in feral cats from her Four Mile neighborhood. They were already safely in her motel room, but didn’t seem real sure about their hastily arranged accommodations.”We were told last night just as a precautionary measure that if we could get out, get out,” Shulton said. “Since I didn’t know how long it would be I figured I better get a place to stay.”John Stroud is managing editor of The Valley Journal in Carbondale.


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