Vail Valley locals rallying to help Beaver Bench fire victims; Salvation Army, Red Cross coordinating efforts | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley locals rallying to help Beaver Bench fire victims; Salvation Army, Red Cross coordinating efforts

John Brenner, left, grew up in Vail. His was one of the condosdestroyed in Saturday's Beaver Bench condo fire. Tom Beaver, right, will be one of the alvation Army volunteers staffing a booth at Avon's Wednesday evening market for the next two weeks.

AVON — The outpouring of support for the Beaver Bench Condominium fire victims is being funneled through the local Salvation Army chapter.

The town of Avon is also floating all kinds of ideas to help the fire victims, including letting them move into the empty firehouse by the lake. The Town Council spent about an hour split between the beginning and end of its Tuesday, Aug. 28, meeting brainstorming ideas.

In the meantime, the Salvation Army and Red Cross are collecting cash, checks and gift cards so the fire victims can get what they need and will have a booth at Avon's Wednesday evening markets for the next two weeks, Sept. 5 and Sept. 12, where they will be collecting donations. They are not accepting clothing or furniture … yet.

Lifetime local

The fire gutted John Brenner's condo. John grew up here. His dad, Ray, opened First Western Mortgage, Vail's first mortgage company, in 1974. His brother Jim runs Blue Sky Mortgage.

Brenner has owned and rented his condo for years and moved back into it three months ago. He wandered off about 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, to run some errands and was home by around 10:30 a.m.

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He was working around the house when someone banged on his front door.

"You gotta get out!" the firefighter told him.

He wondered why for a few seconds, grabbed his cellphone and keys and walked outside to discover the reason the firefighter was in such a hurry.

"I thought it would be minimal. It wasn't," Brenner said.

About that time, a firefighter punched out a window with an ax and smoke poured out of a neighboring unit.

He and the other fire victims literally escaped with the clothes on their backs and what they could grab. After the fire was out, they were escorted back in for a few moments to collect some essentials. For Brenner, that was a few T-shirts and some shorts.

Cooking fire possibly started it

An indoor cooking accident could have sparked it, but investigation continues as fire officials try to determine exactly how the fire started that gutted at least six condos in Avon's Beaver Bench condominiums.

For now, the Beaver Bench Building A remains quarantined.

Longtime locals might remember a similar fire several years ago in Beaver Bench Condominiums' Building B.

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

How to help

To help the Beaver Bench fire victims, send checks, gift cards or cash to Vail Valley Salvation Army Service Unit, 322 E. Beaver Creek Blvd., P.O. Box 2183, Avon, CO 81632, or call 970-748-0704. Write Avon Beaver Bench in the memo line of your check. To donate online, go to http://www.salvationarmy.org.