Newlyweds start over after Summit County fire |

Newlyweds start over after Summit County fire

Ashley Dickson
Summit County Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado ” Alex and Laura McGregor were just beginning to feel at home in their basement apartment at the Woodworks condominiums in Wildernest.

After two months of rearranging furniture and hanging photos, the recently married couple were finally feeling settled in their first home together.

Then on July 26, they watched a fire rip through the building, destroying most of their belongings.

“We were just getting ready to go to bed when we smelled smoke coming from upstairs,” Alex said. “I went up and opened the door, and the whole room was glowing red. I knew we had to get out of there fast.”

With little time to think, the couple grabbed what they could and ran outside to alert the neighbors and call 911.

“I remember standing there in the apartment thinking: ‘What do you grab?'” Laura said. “We took things like car titles, our camera and the computer hard drive. Everything else we just left.”

The entire condo was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived a little after 11 p.m., and Alex and Laura watched from behind a line of caution tape as the fire spread to three other units in the complex.

“In reality, it was amazing to watch,” Alex said. “And we couldn’t help but find it ironic that the fire happened on our two-month wedding anniversary.”

Alex and Laura have known each other since birth, and in July of last year the life-long friends began dating. Their romance developed quickly, and just four months later, Alex proposed and the couple set a wedding date for May 26.

The couple moved into the Woodworks apartment as soon as they returned from their honeymoon, and as they watched the building burn, they remembered the one irreplaceable document they had forgotten to grab: Their marriage certificate.

“I knew exactly where I had left it, so I asked a firefighter if there was any way he could save it,” Laura said. “It was great. He just walked in there and got it for us.”

The fire last Saturday night quickly became a neighborhood event, and Alex and Laura gathered in the parking lot with fellow tenants, as firefighters worked to extinguish the flames.

Shortly after 3 a.m., firefighters allowed residents at the complex to retrieve what they could from the charred remains of the building, and Alex and Laura ventured downstairs to see what was salvageable.

“It was comforting to see that some stuff survived,” Alex said, noting a 1969 Gibson guitar in particular. “But a lot of our things were just too damaged to save, so it was tough to sort through everything.”

Alex and Laura spent two days sorting through the remains of their apartment and, despite becoming temporarily homeless, the couple says they have yet to get depressed about the situation.

“You either laugh or you cry, and we just decided to laugh because what can you do?” Laura said. “I remember I was so excited my new mix master wasn’t ruined I actually strapped it in the front seat when we drove away.”

The couple has been staying with friends while they look for a new apartment in the county, and as they prepare to start over in another new home, they can’t deny that the experience has brought them closer together.

“You never realize how close you are with someone until you go through something like this,” Alex said. “Life goes on, and I keep telling Laura there is no one else I would rather be homeless with.”

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