After the walls collapsed, the fire continued inside the Country Mall on Sunday night and through Monday morning.

Photo by Jerry Raehal

After the walls collapsed, the fire continued inside the Country Mall on Sunday night and through Monday morning.

Shops, community centers put out by fire

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— Bev Rubley spent the past 26 years - her whole life in Craig - working at the Country Mall.

She spent the past nine years there at Reflections, a hair salon she owned.

Rubley celebrated her shop's nine-year anniversary this month.

She watched the building burn Sunday night.

And she watched the building smolder Monday morning.

"I haven't any idea what I'm doing next," Rubley said.

Dan Frey is a supervisor at the Mine Safety and Health Administration District 9 Craig Field Office located at the mall.

Frey discovered the building was lost when he drove to work at 6:30 a.m. Monday. He's been working there for five years, his entire time in Craig.

On Monday afternoon, he marched off with Craig Fire/Rescue firefighters to see if he could salvage any confidential records the fire might have spared.

The people who work for Horizons Specialized Services, which had two offices in the Country Mall, also hoped to find records.

They were thankful records were their biggest concern.

"Very fortunately, we had planned to move to another office in January," said Susan Mizen, Horizons executive director.

Some of their clients depend on Medicaid services, which usually are renewed by the government annually, but the government requires such items as birth certificates and social security cards during renewal, Mizen said.

The fire may have destroyed those records, making it impossible to go through the renewal process without creating new ones, she added.

"That's probably going to be the biggest challenge," Mizen said. "People with developmental conditions essentially have a lifelong need."

Although the child services office was relatively undamaged - there still were paper brochures hanging on the wall - the adult services office on the building's southwest corner collapsed into the foundation.

"With children's services, maybe we can salvage something," said Michael Toothaker, Moffat adult community coordinator. "The adult program is pretty much gone."

Mizen didn't think the fire would affect Horizon clients; it would only mean its staff would spend more time helping people obtain new records.

"We don't provide actual programs for clients out of this space," Mizen said. "It shouldn't have a big impact for our clients."

Help to stand together

Small business owners like Rubley can be hit hard when they lose their business.

Community members can be hit hard when services they depend on, like those offered by Horizons, are temporarily unavailable.

The hardest part for businesses and organizations put out by the fire may be finding available office space to relocate in Craig.

Roy McAnally, owner and real estate broker at American Northwest Realty, estimated there are two or three commercial locations available in town.

He said the whole town will do what it can to help the people in need.

"The entire community feels their losses," McAnally said.

Centennial Mall has six spaces immediately available and another will be open in 30 days, property manager Vicki Hall said. They range from 642 square feet to 2,937 square feet.

"It's a terrible shame, especially for something like this to happen around the holidays," Hall said.

Of the 12 businesses housed in the Country Mall, there were some community service groups with ties in the community.

Horizons is an agency linked to United Way, which plans to help the disability organization in any way they can, United Way Executive Director Corrie Ponikvar said.

Calvary Baptist Church plans to help the Yampa Valley Pregnancy Center, which assists women with newborns, find the relief it needs, Pastor Rod Compton said.

"We give to them on a regular basis and will do whatever we can to help them," Compton said.

Mayor Don Jones said the community has a good history of lending a hand to people suffering through a tragedy.

"We will try to do whatever we can to help," Jones said. "I'm sure we're all more than willing to pitch in whatever we can. The community comes together when this stuff happens, and I think we can do it again if we need to."

Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

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