Storm King scholarship recipients announced
This year’s recipients of the Storm King 14 Memorial Scholarship are children of two firefighters involved in extinguishing the blaze. The winners were 7 years old nearly a dozen years ago when firefighters scrambled to suppress the raging Storm King Fire outside Glenwood Springs, on July 6, 1994. Nathan Thrash and Kimberly Sokal will benefit from a scholarship established as a living memorial to the Storm King 14.Nathan Thrash lost his father, Jim Thrash, who died fighting the Storm King Fire. At 44 years old, Jim Thrash was one of the most experienced firefighters in the group, and one who sounded a warning to the others, according to Storm King survivor Eric Hipke.Nathan is the first scholarship recipient who was a child of one of the 14 firefighters who perished, as most were only in their 20s and many hadn’t started families. He graduated from McCall-Donnelly High School in McCall, Idaho, and is receiving a $1,000 Storm King 14 Memorial Endowment Scholarship award.Nathan says, “I see the smokejumpers around town a lot, and so it feels like there’s a lot of family around town. I still keep in touch with the kids my age from other smokejumpers who worked with my dad, and I have known the kids growing up. A couple have come back to McCall from Virginia and California, all over the place, because the smokejumper base is here.”Receiving a $500 award is Glenwood Springs High School graduate and valedictorian Kimberly Sokal, whose dad couldn’t pick her up from day care the day the Storm King Fire intensified. He was working to control the fire for the Bureau of Land Management. Kimberly says she remembers vividly the day the fire broke out.”It was a huge point in my life,” she says. “I could see ashes falling on the heads of the kids at my day care while we were playing outside. We then had to go back inside. Later when I was being driven home, I thought the smoke looked like the clouds from a tornado, like on TV, but without the tornado.” She plans to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder and has not determined her major yet.The Storm King scholarship was created by the Storm King 14 Monument Committee and the Glenwood Springs City Council. Administered by the Colorado Mountain College Foundation, its priority is to serve the immediate family members of the 14 fallen firefighters.
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