Roaring Fork fire brings out some of the best in us as communities rally to help each other | VailDaily.com

Roaring Fork fire brings out some of the best in us as communities rally to help each other

Air crews work on the Lake Christine Fire on Wednesday afternoon. The Aspen Community Foundation and the Salvation Army is helping coordinate relief efforts.

BASALT — We care about one another most of the time, but sometimes it takes real trouble to bring it out in us.

Take the Lake Christine fire in the Roaring Fork Valley, which blew past 4,000 acres Thursday, July 5, for example.

"This has been the biggest outpouring of human charity I've ever seen," said Dan Smith. Most of the time, Smith helps run Vail Mountain Rescue. When he's not doing that, he runs the Salvation Army's canteen — sort of a food truck on steroids.

Smith and others have seen the human condition at its worst and best, and our support for Lake Christine fire victims is among our best, he said.

Businesses drove up with a truckload of Gatorade and left. Other businesses brought a truckload of water.

Another group dropped off a huge cooler.

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"It's apparently a magic cooler," Smith said. "It magically refills. You look over at it and it's full of ice again."

Everyone is doing everything they can.

"It's community. It's the way it's supposed to be," Smith said.

Where to help

The Aspen Community Foundation is handling many of the donations. Money is what they need most.

That organization and the Salvation Army can use that money to buy vouchers for clothes, toiletries and other supplies that fire victims need, said Tsu Wolin-Brown, executive director of Salvation Army Vail Valley.

"Some people need a change of clothes. They evacuated with the clothes they were wearing," Wolin Brown said.

Among our best

The Roaring Fork Club canceled an event and donated all of the food to the firefighters, who feasted on brisket, salmon, roast beef and shrimp. A New Mexico crew said they had never seen shrimp that big.

Churches are making sandwiches, which is no small task. The Lake Christine fire is now being battled by more than 350 firefighters, up from 150 firefighters initially called to fight the blaze.

That's 350 firefighters for three meals a day, with more firefighters on the way.

The firefighters might be back to beef stew and biscuits before long, but not right away.

Whole Foods cooked dinner Thursday night, and others will pick it up from there. Eventually, federal agencies will take over feeding the firefighters. After that, those working the canteens and food trucks will shift to help feed those in shelters.

"You find good people, put them in the right task and it just works," Smith said.

Still, Smith said he was never as scared as he was Wednesday when the Lake Christine fire blew up.

This is the same Dan Smith who, in Vietnam, was shot at and bombed more times than he cares to remember. But when the wind picked up and the fire headed straight for the canteen where he was working, he was ready to grab a cooler for cover and scramble.

"We got lucky. The wind blew it back," Smith said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Some Places to help

This list is far from exhaustive. The Aspen Community Foundation is coordinating most donations for the Lake Christine Fire. Visit http://www.aspencommunityfoundation.org, email candace@aspencommuityfoundation.org, or call 970-925-9300 to help or find help.

• The American Red Cross has two evacuation centers, one at Basalt High School and one at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale. These centers are providing food (three meals a day), overnight shelter, showers and updates. They are only accepting donations based on their current needs, which may change. Pets are not allowed in evacuation shelters (except service animals).

• In the Eagle River Valley, Our Community Foundation is offering warehouse space at 760 Lindbergh Drive Unit 7 in Gypsum as a drop-off for nonperishable food. Call Brian at 970-343-9916.

• C.A.R.E. (Colorado Animal Rescue) is accepting companion animals: 2801 County Road 114, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601 (970-947-9173). Transportation can be arranged through Animal Services, contact is 970-328-3647

• The Garfield County Fairgrounds in Rifle is being used as a rescue shelter for large animals. 970-471-3763.

• Take clothing donations to the Rifle Lift-Up Thrift Shop. Vouchers will be given to the fire victims. The clothing needs to be appropriate for summer, clean and in good shape. Contact Debbie Wilde at 970-625-4496, 970-618-0949 (cell), director@liftup.org or debbiewilde@debbiewilde.com.

• Lyft Off-Road, an auto shop on State Highway 82 near Cattle Creek Road, is a drop-off spot for water and nonperishable food.

• St. Peter’s Episcopal Church is a drop-off for nonperishable food. Call Father Will Fisher at 347-886-7352.

• Orchard Church in Carbondale is offering a pet-friendly shelter with a commercial kitchen and 50 mattresses. Call Charlie Hill at 970-379-2328.

• Volunteer Jose Carreon has a wrecker and a tow truck, if you need help. Call 316-350-0026.

• Jason Sewell has land and a fenced-in area for horses and cattle and may be able to access hay. Call him at 970-963-3387 or 970-309-3417 (cell).

• Volunteers are on standby at both Crossroads Church locations in Glenwood Springs and Aspen. Call Tim O’Keefe at 970-379-0487.

• Alpine Bank is matching donations to the American Red Cross, dollar for dollar, up to $250,000 to help those impacted by the fires throughout Colorado.