Daily Camera 2010/09/08

Boulder businesses, organizations mobilize to help Fourmile Fire victims


The situation remains surreal for Stephen Schein.

The co-owner of Boulder’s Half Fast Subs, frankly, would be shocked if his Fourmile Canyon home was not consumed by the more-than-7,100-acre wildfire northwest of Boulder. The fire was crawling over the neighboring ridge when his girlfriend fled with their dogs, bikes and clothes.

Hours later, he heard the streets surrounding his Fred Street home of 13 years were ablaze.

But at a time of loss, Schein said his only thought is to give.

“These are the things you read about happening to other people,” he said. “Now that it’s happening to my home, I want to find any way to give back to the community.”

Schein’s University Hill sub shop is offering a free sandwich to victims of the Fourmile Fire for an indefinite period of time.

“I don’t know what else to do at this point,” he said. “We’re just trying to give something back if we can.”

As firefighters worked to get a handle on the blaze, Half Fast Subs and other area businesses and organizations stepped forward as part of a broad outpouring of support from the community.

Eric Skokan, who owned the Gold Lake Resort in nearby Ward for years with his wife, hopes to have his Black Cat restaurant, 1964 13th St. in downtown Boulder, serve as a temporary hub of food and community for evacuees.

“One of the wonderful parts of living up in the mountains is that when someone breaks down, people generally don’t zoom by and leave someone stranded,” he said. “There’s very much an unwritten rule that everybody who lives in the mountains helps each other out.”

Starting today, the Black Cat will have free family-style meals and to-go options from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for victims of the Fourmile Fire.

Many Boulder County organizations quickly mobilized to help in their own way. The Volunteer Connection set up a list of potential volunteers and is asking people to e-mail services@volunteerconnection.net; the Lubazitch of Boulder, Jewish Enrichment Center, is offering a free community meal and Rosh Hashanah services tonight for Jewish community members displaced by the fire; funds and fundraisers have been established for firefighters and Fourmile-area residents.

Colorado Vault & Safe Deposit Box Co. is offering free safe deposit box services for people who need a temporary place to store valuables.

Online, and under the hashtag #boulderfire, Twitter was teeming with offers of assistance — from free meals to discounted hotel rates to office space.

Internet service provider Indra’s Net is opening its doors, conference room and spare office space at 2525 28th St., Suite 136, to evacuees.

“We have a lot of customers in Jamestown, Gold Hill, people who still dial in because they can’t get better connectivity,” said Spike Ilacqua, chief technology officer. “As an Internet service provider, we have WiFi and all that good stuff.”