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Local tourism not yet up in smoke

Phil Sandoval

The Coal Seam Fire has yet to cause mass cancellations at local recreational businesses.

“We have been getting a lot of calls, but most of the people have been asking for information about the fire,” said Ken Larson, of Whitewater Rafting.

He said there has been no fire damage to his West Glenwood business, which is located by the Colorado River.

Larson’s biggest problem is that customers “can’t get through town” to make their raft trips.

He said calls have been “pretty steady.” His staff were answering information calls through midnight Saturday, and calls were coming in as early as 6 a.m. Sunday.

Larson said, “We don’t mind taking those calls, because we’re not doing anything right now.” He said that rafting trips reserved for later this week will be honored, providing travel on Interstate 70 is open to the public.

Likewise, the switchboard at the Hot Springs Lodge and Pool has handled far more information calls than cancellations.

“I was actually on the switchboard for about an hour this morning, and the calls were for information,” said Hot Springs General Manager Kjell Mitchell.

Mitchell said the most concerned call was from a man in Los Angeles who has a reservation at the Lodge in two weeks.

As of Sunday morning, the Hot Springs Pool was closed, and all remaining guests who did not leave after receiving evacuation notice from the Glenwood Springs Police Department were moved to the Red Cross evacuation center at Colorado Mountain College in Spring Valley.

The Coal Seam Fire caused a financial hit to the operators of the Glenwood Caverns and Fairy Caves.

Co-owner Jeanne Beckley said she is unsure how the fire will affect her business.

“We can’t get into our office, and most of our staff live in the Rifle area, and they can’t get in either. I’m sure our voice mail will be filled up, but I don’t know,” she said.

Beckley said 300 Sunday reservations had to be canceled due to the fire, but Saturday “wasn’t an issue.”

“We got everyone off the mountain yesterday. But it’s going to be interesting to see what it’s going to be like this week,” she said.


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