Routt County residents rally to support 7 Royal Hotel residents displaced by fire in Yampa

Scott Franz
Fire destroys The Royal Hotel in Yampa. Submitted by: Stephanie Van Gorden

— In the hotel just across the street from the smoldering remains of one of Yampa’s most historic gathering places, Julie Williams’ phone kept ringing and ringing.

The callers all wanted to know how to help the people who lost their homes Saturday night when the Royal Hotel suddenly burned to the ground.

“Everybody is concerned about the (displaced) residents and making sure their needs are being met,” Williams said Monday behind the front desk of the Oak Tree Inn where three of the seven residents displaced by the fire were staying. “It’s crazy how people came and pulled together and made an effort to give people what they need.”

A local couple cooked the displaced residents some homemade lasagna.

Oak Tree Inn general manager Onika Mayer spent Monday afternoon shopping for them.

And on top of all the other donations that came pouring in from other local residents, the displaced were being cared for by the Routt County United Way, LIFT-UP of Routt County, the Routt County Department of Human Services and the American Red Cross.

“It’s been great,” Williams said of all the support she has seen in the small South Routt County town.

United Way Executive Director Kate Nowak said the displaced residents’ immediate needs, like personal care items, clothing, food and lodging, have been taken care of for the next week.

But housing will be the next biggest problem, she said.

She said United Way now is accepting monetary donations for the fire victims.

The Oak Tree Inn and Penny’s Diner also are still accepting cash or gift cards on behalf of the victims.

Williams described the displaced residents at the hotel as a young woman in her 20s, a man in his 20s and another man in his late 30s or 40s.

Meanwhile, the community continues to look at the empty space where the Royal stood and lament the loss of history.

Williams said she has seen several people stopping by and taking pictures of the little that remains of the old hotel.

“It’s sad to look across the street to see that it’s gone,” Williams said. “It was a piece of history.”

The Royal Hotel, a more than 100-year-old building, erupted in flames late Saturday night and was burned to the ground by Sunday morning.

Initial reports indicated the fire was caused by a malfunctioning coal stoker.

There were no major injuries in the fire, but Routt County Undersheriff Ray Birch said Monday afternoon he was told by his office’s lead fire investigator that a woman living in the hotel was taken to the hospital after the blaze complaining of difficulty breathing.

Birch said her condition was not thought to be serious or critical.

He said no other injuries were reported.

“Whether there was somebody on scene who ended up at the hospital later, that we have not confirmed,” Birch said.

Williams and some other community members in South Routt have reported two people were taken to the hospital following the fire.

Yampa Valley Medical Center could not comment Monday on whether they had received any patients as a result of the fire, or their conditions, unless they were provided with the patients’ names.

The Sheriff’s Office is working with the Colorado Bureau of investigations to determine the cause of the fire.

After letting the fire scene cool down, Birch said investigators were able to start their probe Monday.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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