EAGLE, Colo. (CBS4) – As the Grizzly Creek Fire spreads its destructive path, the CSU Extension Office in Eagle County and community members are offering up space for the animals of families who’ve evacuated their homes.
On Friday, extension agents helped bring in dozens of animals at the Eagle County Fairgrounds. Among them were Katie Stephens’ horses and chickens.
On Thursday night, Stephens and her family were told by authorities to evacuate their longtime home in Sweetwater.
“There’s only one way in, one way out and we’re right across from the flattops so it very well could move,” Stephens said. “It was basically throw whatever you can into bags and into the trailer and load the food.”
Stephens and her family also loaded up the animals on their property and headed straight to Eagle. Now, for the foreseeable future they’ll be keeping the horses and chickens at the Eagle County Fairgrounds.
Stephens and her family members have also found a temporary home on the property. After sleeping in their cars Thursday night, they set up cots in the exhibition hall next to the livestock barn.
“It took a weight off of our shoulders for sure, just having a place for them to go, because when we’re stressed, they’re stressed,” Stephens said.
The CSU Extension started offering up space at the fairgrounds this week as more nearby communities fell under evacuation and pre-evacuation orders. Currently, it’s at about half capacity for horses. When Extension agents say local land owners have already pledged to take in animals as well when the fairgrounds property is at capacity.
Stephens said the arrangements have given her family one less thing to worry about.
“It’s out of our control and right now it’s just what can we control, how can we make this situation better for us and where to go from here,” she said.
Owners who leave their animals at the fairgrounds are still responsible for their care. As of Friday night there were 28 open stalls and a few available pens outside.
The Grizzly Creek Fire has burned 13,441 acres in Glenwood Canyon as of Friday evening, growing rapidly to the east.
I-70 has been shut down since Monday, when the fire started. It’s believed to have ignited from sparks from a popped tire, dragging chains or rim.