Sleepy Bear residents banding together, seeking relief after 2 fires, continuing power outage

A member of Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue sprays water on a shed between two homes in the Sleepy Bear Mobile Home Park on Wednesday afternoon. The fire department was called to the fire shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday. Details were limited on the scene, but it appeared to have destroyed a shed in the backyard of one home and spread to the home next door. (Photo by John F. Russell)

Some residents at Sleepy Bear Mobile Home Park will likely be without power for at least several weeks after two fires broke out at the park Wednesday.

Chuck Cerasoli, Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue chief, said a maintenance worker attempting to fix a water leak accidentally cut an electrical line that feeds electricity to several different mobile homes in the area.

While the maintenance worker was attempting to repair the severed electrical line, two fires broke out at separate mobile homes. Fire crews were able to take care of the immediate danger, though Cerasoli said 15 trailers on the side of the park closest to the Yampa River will be out of power for at least several weeks.

David “Mo” DeMorat, Routt County emergency operations director, said residents will hopefully receive more information on how long power will be out after an electrical engineer can assess the property this week. For now DeMorat said Routt County Department of Human Services is working with the fire department, Yampa Valley Electric Association and the city of Steamboat Springs to help residents without power get grocery store vouchers, temporary lodging and showers.

Norma Ruth Ryan, a resident of Sleepy Bear, is also working to collect battery-powered items, food and entertainment for families in the park.

“What isn’t often talked about is people are hot, they’re worried, and kids are bored,” Ruth Ryan said. “We are a resilient community, and we have found the resources we need to band together and make sure things get done.”

Conrad Morgan, Sleepy Bear property manager, said he is working with the city and county to help residents without power. He said he does not feel the situation could have been prevented.

“It was an accident,” Morgan said. “There wasn’t any previous indication that we had the problems that it looked like we had.”

Morgan described the fires as a “freak accident,” though some residents have disagreed, citing aging infrastructure in the park.

Melissa Farias, another Sleepy Bear resident without power, said her family has not been able to access lodging and has had to stay in their home.

“It was scary at first, but now, it’s a little annoying and unfortunate,” Farias said. “We’ve just been kind of winging it without power.”

Community members are invited to bring batteries, nonperishable food and other items to 3725 Lincoln Ave., Unit 22.

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