Vail Valley Animal Hospital after Larkburger fire: ‘We’re still here’
It has been a challenging summer for local businesses impacted by the July 12 blaze
Dr. Charlie Meynier of the Vail Valley Animal Hospital has been dealing with insurance companies for most of the summer. Nearly four weeks removed from the July 12 Larkburger kitchen fire that damaged the Edwards location of Meynier’s business, he and his staff of more than 20, which includes four doctors, are all working out of their 1,500-foot EagleVail location.
“It’s a real challenge,” Meynier said. “But it could always be worse.”
To make his point, Meynier said he’s thankful that no employees or pets were injured in the fire, which caused serious smoke damage to the animal clinic’s location in the Edwards Village Center.
“That we have another location,” Meynier said. “We really feel like we are a big part of the community and we’re working hard against a lot of odds stacked against us to provide the same level of care.”
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‘A nightmare to deal with’
Frank Mitchell, the owner of Moontime Cyclery, echoed those sentiments. He opened another location in Eagle this year, which has somewhat softened the blow from the fire.
Mitchell literally held a fire sale on Saturday, offering deep discounts on everything to clear out the inventory in his Edwards space so that repair work can begin.
“The sale went great,” Mitchell said. “We got rid of just about everything and we are going to take what little is left and donate a bunch of it to various causes. We’re going to keep some of the things that I feel like it’s worth keeping that I feel like I can potentially still sell. And then we have to empty the building so that we can begin the reconstruction process.”
Still, there’s no sugarcoating how much the fire has impacted the bottom line of the businesses that shared the building together.
Meynier said the lost revenue from the fire is “$180,000 right now and counting.” He’s worried less about the money than making sure he can keep his staff together.
“It’s been a challenge for our employees,” he said. “They depend on these hours to live in this valley. I can’t cut their hours.”
Mitchell said it’s all but impossible for him to put a dollar value on the losses, other than it just keeps adding up every day.
“My potential missed new customers is a number that I can’t put a value on,” he said. “Like all of the people that walked up to my door over the last three weeks and pulled on it when it was locked, I may never see that person again.”
Official report looms
Tracy LeClair with the Eagle River Fire Protection District said the official report from the county fire marshal should be finalized this week but that insurance investigators have been scheduled to do their investigation on August 12 and 13.
Calls to Larkburger’s Edwards location just lead to a busy signal and the webpage for the Edwards’ location doesn’t include any information about plans for reopening.
Meynier and Mitchell both said they’re confident they will be made whole again when the insurance kicks in, but so far they haven’t seen any money.
“It’s all going to work out in the end, but it’s just a giant nightmare to deal with right now,” Mitchell said. “The best way I can describe it is if you were to buy yourself a hamburger at Larkburger and put it on the dashboard in front of your car and let it sit there for three or four days in the sun, that’s what the inside of my store smells like. And it’s not going to go away until they replace it.”
Where’s there’s smoke …
Meynier said the Vail Valley Animal Hospital is the only pet emergency clinic in Eagle County. It’s open seven days a week for emergency visits until 10 p.m. at night and also offers 24-hour monitoring of animals.
Meynier is optimistic that some of his staff will be able to move back into the clinic at the Edwards Village Center sometime in the next two weeks. The fire didn’t do any structural damage but the smoke damage was extensive.
“To mitigate the smoke damage, we had to have the whole ceiling torn out, all the insulation torn out and replaced,” Meynier said. “Everything had to be wiped down and cleaned and certified safe.”
The fire also did damage to the building’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, which has to be replaced.
Individual air-conditioning units have been brought in to try to cool the building while the HVAC system is replaced, which has created another hassle.
More than anything, Meynier just wants pet owners in the valley to know that the Vail Valley Animal Hospital hasn’t gone anywhere.
“We just want people to know that we’re still here and available for their pets and the community,” he said. “Call us if you have an emergency.”