How to help
The American Red Cross is accepting donations to help support Fourmile Fire evacuees. To contribute, visit www.northerncolorado.redcross.org or call 303-772-7474.
The Longmont Humane Society, 9595 Nelson Road, is asking for donations to support pets of evacuees. The shelter is seeking canned dog and cat food, as well as cash donations. To contribute, visit www.longmonthumane.org or call 303-772-1232.
The Boulder County Fairgrounds is seeking donations to support livestock evacuated from the fire areas. The fairgrounds needs hay, horse feed and other services. To help, contact Boulder County Parks and Open Space at 303-678-6200.
Neighbors and strangers alike came together under smoky skies Monday to provide warm beds, shelter pets and perform other random acts of kindness for hundreds of Boulder County residents displaced by the Fourmile Fire.
As dozens of people evacuated from the path of the 3,500-acre wildfire filtered into a meeting point at the North Boulder Recreation Center, just as many Boulder-area residents were there offering help. Social networking sites, such as Twitter, were also abuzz with offers of help.
Jane and John Spencer, of Boulder, went to the rec center to tell evacuees they could care for pets, which were not allowed into the overnight emergency shelter set up at the Coors Events Center and many hotels.
Of the dozens of people at the recreation center -- most of whom were evacuated from the Gold Hill area -- most had dogs in tow.
"We just thought that we'd help," John Spencer said.
The couple ended up connecting with Sue Daney, who was forced to leave her home along Left Fork Road near Sugarloaf.
She left her puppy, Lilly, a 4-month-old Labrador retriever, with the couple for the night as she worked to find a place to stay.
"It's really nice," she said of the Spencers' open door. "I was going to sit under a tree with her all night."
Although Daney offered to pay for the hospitality, Jane Spencer wasn't having it.
"Don't worry about a reward," she said. "We know you've helped a lot of people in your life."
Such expressions became commonplace Monday afternoon as more and more people fled the foothills west of Boulder County as the flames advanced.
Eric Hintsa, who lives in north Boulder, was among a dozen or so people who told the American Red Cross that he would help shelter evacuees.
"When we saw the fire this morning, we realized there would be a lot of people who would need some help," he said. "We could house a small family."
Although no one had called Hintsa for help on Monday night, he said a major disaster should be a time for the community to come together and for people to offer what help they can.
"People have helped us in the past and we're maybe in a position to help other people now," he said.
Marie Wilson, of Boulder, also offered to help take care of pets for the night.
"We just wanted to come down and help in any way we could," she said.
That ended up being a good arrangement for Josie, an 8-year-old German shepherd, and her owner, Jeana Steinbach.
Steinbach said Josie was fine as long as she had a tennis ball, but she said it would be easier to find a hotel or some place to stay tonight without a pet in tow.
Steinbach, who lived through the 2009 Olde Stage fire, said "this one has a different feel."
"It's a little more scary" because no one knows exactly where the flames are, she said.
Boulder resident Margie McCulloch, meanwhile, was working with another displaced family to let them sleep over for the night. The family decided instead to camp out in their Volkswagen bus with their three dogs, she said, leaving her to search for others in need Monday night.
"I have the space and, you know, this is kind of an emergency for people," McCulloch said.
She said it wasn't a big deal to offer help, and that Boulder is a town with a lot of ability to give to others.
"I think that we're a really blessed community, but it's also a pretty enlightened and aware community," she said. "I think we're happy to be able to help because we have the ability to be able to."
People from outside Boulder also came to help.
Lafayette resident Sarah Ballard, for example, drove to Boulder after seeing the smoke.
Ballard, who is trained in disaster animal rescue, was prepared to house several cats and up to five dogs.
"Animals are my passion," she said. "I would want to know my pets are safe."
In Gunbarrel, Valerie Hobbs, campus director for the Southwest Acupuncture College, extended an offer for free acupuncture to anyone who was forced to leave their homes Monday.
"Some methodologies in acupuncture relieve post-traumatic stress and trauma," she said. "For somebody who had to leave their house very rapidly, and may have lost their possessions, there's a period of adjustment that can be very difficult."
John Miller, a team captain for the Red Cross, said he was taken aback by the number of people calling and stopping by the North Boulder Recreation Center to offer help.
"People pull together" in an emergency, he said.
Pat Hofman, who works as a volunteer victims' advocate with the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, said everyday residents were making her job easy.
"They're taking care of each other," she said.
Contact Camera staff writer Heath Urie at 303-473-1328, or firstname.lastname@example.org.