Future of Cowboy Corral remains in limbo

RANGELY — It pains Vicky Reeves every time she drives by the remains of the Cowboy Corral Restaurant.
“I’m tired of looking at it,” said Reeves, who, along with her husband, Jerry, owned the restaurant. “I drive by it two or three times a day.”
The Cowboy Corral was destroyed by an early morning fire Sept. 19. Now, Reeves is trying to decide whether to rebuild.
“I’m waiting on the insurance company to give me some figures,” she said. “There are a lot of people that want me to rebuild, but I don’t know. I will have to make a decision soon, I hope. I had had it up for sale, but it would be really nice to have a brand new restaurant to run. But if I don’t do it, hopefully, somebody else will.”
Reeves said she still owes on the business.
“The insurance company will figure it both ways,” she said. “They pay out more if you rebuild, because they have to pay replacement costs. But I still owe the mortgage on it. I’m just kind of waiting.”
In the meantime, Reeves would like to see the fire scene cleaned up. Again, she’s waiting.
“It’s got to be cleaned up,” she said. “Right now, all we’re waiting on is the asbestos test and then the bids to get it cleaned up. I think once we get a bid on how much it will cost to clean it up, they (the insurance company) will pay me that.”
An investigation by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation had previously ruled out arson. Cleaning rags were determined to be the cause of the fire, Reeves said.
“They called it spontaneous combustion,” Reeves said. “We had taken the rags to the laundromat and and then took them out of the dryer and, while they were still hot, put them in a laundry basket. Apparently, the heat holds in the rags, and they sat there and smoldered until they caught on fire.”
Reeves said she had been cleaning at the restaurant and took the rags to have them cleaned. When she returned from the laundromat around 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 18, she sat the basket of rags in a break room, off of the kitchen. Reeves said she cleaned for another three hours, before leaving the restaurant around 9:30 p.m.
“The fire started sometime between 9:30 and 12:30,” she said. “The rags definitely had grease in them; you can’t get them completely clean. And the dryers at the laundromat get really, really hot. So, between that and the grease, the rags just smoldered until they caught on fire.”
Reeves is sorry for the community’s loss, because the restaurant has been a fixture for many years.
“It’s very sad,” she said. ‘I’ve been here 25 years, and (the restaurant) has been here since I’ve been here.”