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Kristen Muraro first saw it from her office window: an ominous plume of smoke rising from the forests surrounding Durango. Moments later, her phone buzzed. Her father was calling; he was worried he’d have to leave the house. As the marketing director of Durango’s Ska Brewing and a longtime resident, Muraro knew Colorado’s dry winter put her community at risk for wildfires. But on June 1, when the fires first started ripping through the trees, the situation became increasingly dire. Within days, the 416 Fire had ravaged thousands of acres and displaced more than 2,000 people.
Although residents have since been allowed to move back in and recent rainfall has provided firefighters with crucial aid, the Durango tourism industry has suffered. The closure of the San Juan National Forest—now reopened—as well as the shutdown of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad have slowed the seasonal influx of out-of-town visitors. In response, Muraro and the rest of Ska Brewing team have rallied more than 20 in- and out-of-state breweries (including 17 from Colorado), as well as bars and restaurants, to create Save the San Juans Saturday, a fundraising initiative to reinvigorate Durango tourism and support fire relief efforts. Participating breweries and businesses will donate a portion of their sales on Saturday, June 23, to Durango’s Community Emergency Relief Fund (CERF).
The minute the fire danger became clear, CERF opened its fund and contributions started trickling in, says Briggen Wrinkle, executive director of the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado. The organization announced a goal to raise $500,000, which would go directly to aiding 750 to 1,000 community members affected by the fires. Applicants whose paychecks were delayed or who had lost their jobs entirely due to the fires would be aided with grocery, gas, and gift cards. Wrinkle says she anticipates around 1,000 applications to come in, each requiring about an hour for volunteers to review. The money raised by Save the San Juans Saturday will buoy their efforts. “It’s going to be crazy, but it’s crazy good,” Wrinkle says.
If You Go
The fundraiser takes place at the following breweries, bars and restaurants on Saturday, June 23.
4 Noses Brewing; Broomfield, Colorado
Dark Sky Brewing; Flagstaff, Arizona
Dogfish Head; Milton, Delaware
Dry Dock Brewing Co.; Aurora, Colorado
Elevation Beer Co.; Poncha Springs, Colorado
Epic Brewing; Denver, Colorado
Fossil Craft Brewing; Colorado Springs, Colorado
Goat Patch Brewing; Colorado Springs, Colorado
Huss Brewing; Tempe, Arizona
Jessup Farm Barrel House; Fort Collins, Colorado
Lone Tree Brewing Company; Lone Tree, Colorado
Mountain Tap Brewery; Steamboat Springs, Colorado
New Belgium; Fort Collins, Colorado
Odell Brewing; Fort Collins, Colorado and Denver, Colorado
Oskar Blues; multiple states
Pagosa Brewing; Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Ratio Brewing; Denver, Colorado
Ska Brewing; Durango, Colorado
Steamworks Brewing Company; Durango, Colorado
Stillmank Brewing Co.; Green Bay, Wisconsin
Stone Brewing; Escondidio, California
Wild Woods Brewery; Boulder, Colorado
Freshcraft; Denver, Colorado
Front Range BBQ; Colorado Springs, Colorado
Highland Tavern; Denver, Colorado
Parry’s Pizza; multiple locations
The Jailhouse Craft Beer Bar; Buena Vista, Colorado