As Grizzly Creek Fire threatens Dotsero, residents remain hopeful
What started as a small fire in the median of Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon has now grown into the largest fire in White River National Forest history.
The Grizzly Creek fire had burned an estimated 29,732 acres as of Thursday with 4% containment. Although the fire has slowed its spread, the Dotsero community remains alert with pre-evacuation orders that have been in place since August 13.
“The first day was very, very tough because people began to take things out of their homes. I saw people taking out TVs, bikes, everything they had outside. There was a huge movement of people, lots of cars full of things,” said Laura Rascón, a resident of the Dotsero mobile home park.
Rascón added that the fire has caused her children to panic, especially her youngest daughter.
“They are very nervous all the time. In fact, the youngest has been staying up late, always looking out the window to see what is happening,” she said.
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Packing up in a hurry
Cassandra Armas, a resident of the Two Rivers community in Dotsero for 14 years, said many people decided to leave their homes on August 13 despite having no official evacuation orders.
“That night I think many people left, we drove around to see and there were no cars in many of the houses. It looked like a ghost town,” she said. “I think Sunday morning was when people started coming back.”
Armas says the flames from the fire were visible from her home during the first two days when the fire crossed into Eagle County from Garfield County.
“Knowing that there is a fire very close to us causes a lot of fear, and it’s very sad,” she added.
Being prepared, staying informed
The Eagle County PIO’s Facebook page said Wednesday that the Battle Mountain High School evacuation site would close because services had not been heavily used.
“Therefore, to preserve volunteer resources, it will be closed until needed,” the PIO wrote on Facebook.
However, Stephanie Chavez, who also lives in Two Rivers with her family, decided to take her most important belongings to her grandmother’s house in Gypsum, in case of evacuation.
“We took the essential things like papers, personal information, photos, some clothes and our dog’s belongings … We took all of that to my grandmother’s house,” she said.
Chavez says her community has been staying informed on Facebook, where residents have been sharing important information about the fire.
“What has really helped the community is the Two Rivers Facebook page. A lot of people are posting updates on there and communicating with others,” she said.
“And I think just having that community support and information makes you feel better,” she added.
Rascón also said she felt supported by local organizations and agencies.
“They have given us a lot of support such as information on shelter, food, pets … they have given us a lot of help at all times,” she said.
Armas said, despite the uncertain times that the communities affected by the Grizzly Creek Fire are experiencing, it is important to remain calm.
“It is a situation that we cannot control and no matter how much we stress, we will not be able to change the situation. If we are not calm, we will not be able to respond well in case we are evacuated,” she said. “We hope that the fire is controlled and that it does not reach our valley. Firefighters know what they are doing and we trust them.”
Additionally, Mi Salud, Mi Charco has been posting daily live videos with updates on its Facebook page. It also has a database through which text messages are sent with information in Spanish to residents of the Dotsero communities. To register, send a direct message to Mi Salud, Mi Charco on Facebook with your name and phone number.
To register for EC alerts, visit the Eagle County Alert System website and click ‘Sign Up.’ It is important that you include your name, phone number and address when registering to receive emergency alerts for our county.
If you need evacuation assistance, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or 1-800-733-276.
Se puede contactar con Julio Garcia Jimenez, reportero en español, enviando un correo a email@example.com. Sígalo en Instagram @juliooomar. Vail Daily Spanish reporter Julio Garcia Jimenez can be contacted by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Instagram @juliooomar.