Donations being accepted for couples displaced by Steamboat fire

Matt Stensland

Chris O’Konski watches Thursday as a fire destroys the home he lived in on Après Ski Way.
Matt Stensland

— Fundraising websites have been set up for the two couples who were displaced by a fire that destroyed their home Thursday in Steamboat Springs.

Paul Fourtner and his wife, Carzel, were upstairs when the fire broke out in the house they have owned since 1996 at 3394 Après Ski Way.

The past 19 months had already been hard for the couple.

According to close friend Kim Alessi, 19 months ago, Carzel was a vibrant fun-loving woman who loved her horse, rodeo, riding her Harley and her friends. Then, she had a seizure and has since lost 90 percent of her cognitive memory and struggles to form one-word replies.

“Though she has gone through countless batteries of tests and treatment, doctors have yet to find the cause or the cure for this rapid decline,” Alessi wrote.

Alessi said the stress has been immense for Paul Fourtner, who works full-time at the Hayden Station power plant.

Paul Fourtner told police he believed his wife started the fire. It was not clear how, because Paul Fourtner was sleeping when the blaze broke out.

All the couple’s belongings were destroyed.

“Something like that just puts your head in a tailspin,” Alessi said.

The couple suffered some smoke inhalation, and Carzel Fourtner had a small burn on her foot.

Alessi said the Fourtners’ insurance company was helping them with temporary housing. With two dogs, they are also looking for long-term housing.

Chris O’Konski and Toni Cratsley lived in the lower level apartment. They were hoping to salvage some of their belongings.

O’Konski works in construction, and Cratsley is a chef for the Routt County Council on Aging.

A fundraising webpage for the Fourtners has been established at People can also make donations at Wells Fargo through the Paul and Karzel Benefit Account.

The webpage for O’Konski and Cratsley is at

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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