Front Range fire evacuees take refuge in Summit County |

Front Range fire evacuees take refuge in Summit County

Caddie Nath
Summit Daily News

Tina Pittman Wagers and her family will be heading for their second home in Frisco this weekend, not for recreation, but for refuge.

Wagers lives in the Devil’s Thumb area in Boulder and was packing up Wednesday afternoon to evacuate as she watched flames from the Flagstaff fire creep closer and closer to her home.

“It’s in my backyard,” she said Wednesday. “I’m looking at it. I’m packing up my stuff and evacuating my house. … It’s a little closer to home than you probably expected.”

Wagers is one of thousands receiving evacuation orders as wildfires across the state begin to spread into residential and urban areas, and she isn’t the only one seeking shelter in (so far) fire-free Summit County.

Local hotels reported influxes of evacuees from Colorado Springs and across the Front Range Wednesday as hotel rooms in Denver filled up.

They’re choosing Summit because, “one, it’s a little bit safer and two, they figure if they go anywhere they might as well go someplace where it’s beautiful,” said Kyle Meyers, a front desk agent at the Holiday Inn in Frisco, who estimated business had tripled Wednesday from a normal week day.

Meanwhile, with the threat of wildfire looming here as well, High Country residents are watching in horror at the devastation and searching for ways to assist family and friends impacted by the fires.

“My first thought is that I feel helpless,” said Avon resident Heather Christie, whose father and stepmother fled fires near Colorado Springs on Saturday. “It’s my own family, you’d think you’d know what to do. But there’s nothing I really can do.”

Though her family is safe, they sustained hard losses, including her brother’s artwork. Christie’s parents are now staying with other relatives in Pueblo.

“I would be happy to have them come here, except I’m worried that we’re going to go up,” she said.

Instead, Christie is fighting feelings of helplessness by lending a hand to the emergency agencies on the Front Range. She’ll be collecting supplies for pets and humans to donate to relief efforts.

Restaurants and a Breckenridge preschool are also taking up donation efforts as locals search for ways to help.

“I just think it’s a good idea. People have lost everything,” said Lucha Cantina Mexican Restaurant owner Chuck Holcolmb Wednesday. “I was getting calls at 7 a.m. (from employees) saying, ‘what can we do? What can we do?'”

Holcolmb, who is collecting clothing donations at restaurant locations in Breckenridge and Georgetown today, said the church one of his employees grew up attending in Colorado Springs had burned down, and her brother’s high school was also at risk.