Sunday was business as unusual for Glenwood Springs stores
Sunday afternoon in downtown Glenwood Springs seemed about as typical as any in recent past. From just about any downtown street corner, life seemed almost normal.
Tourists strolled across the Grand Avenue Pedestrian Bridge and gazed to the west while locals gathered to talk on street corners.
But conversation seemed far from normal. Most of the talk was about the smoke and flames looming to the north and west, and the fact that hundreds of people, like Dorothy and Toto, just wanted to go home.
“Where do you live?” one man asked another as they met at the corner next to the Riviera Supper Club.
“On Colorado, so we’re fine,” came the reply.
“Glad to hear it,” said the man as the two shook hands.
Unlike most Sundays during summer tourist season, prime Grand Avenue parking places were plentiful, despite many side streets being closed to allow parking of emergency vehicles poised to fight the ever-spreading fire.
Some downtown businesses had their “closed” signs up for the day, even though the posted open hours included Sundays.
No one splashed off of the diving board, screamed down the slides, or soaked their troubles away at the Hot Springs Pool.
At Through the Looking Glass book store, shoppers were scarce, but that didn’t keep employee and Glenwood Springs resident Joanie McGuern from being her usual upbeat self.
“I personally felt like I needed to be here today,” said McGuern. “It’s a little part in the storm.”
By early evening, Kevin Flohr and his crew were exhausted.
Flohr, the manager of City Market in Glenwood Springs, said store employees spent Saturday night and all day Sunday providing coffee to stranded motorists who spent the night in the store’s parking lot, unable to travel on Interstate 70 because of the fire that raged to the west of town, and to the agencies involved in fighting the fire.
In addition, the store supplied thousands of free lunches and hundreds of pounds of ice to participating fire and law enforcement agencies, the American Red Cross, and volunteers at other area information and resource centers.
In this intense, dry heat, “everyone needs ice,” said Flohr.
Firefighters used it to cool down and the Red Cross used it to chill water and other drinks offered to those in need.
The first cold truckloads arrived Sunday morning after arriving from Denver and via Montrose and McClure Pass. There was a great deal of relief when I-70 opened up on Sunday afternoon, said Flohr, who was expecting more semi-loads of ice before day’s end.
Flohr, who grew up in Glenwood Springs, said he and his crew spent the day working hard and fighting back tears. “We have employees whose dads are out fighting fires,” said Flohr. Some of his employees had also been up for almost 24 hours.
“More than anything, we’re just trying to help,” said Flohr.
“It’s pretty neat,” he said with an exhausted yawn, “to see how close everyone becomes when there’s a need.”
City Market stores in El Jebel and Carbondale are also offering their services and are accepting donations of food and money to help with the victims and fighters of the inferno. As of Sunday, the blaze still had a tight grip on the residents of Glenwood Springs.
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Since Colorado’s not yet in the clear of the global pandemic, the Garfield School District Re-2 is heading into next year with a relatively frugal budget.