Print Friendly, PDF & Email



As if there hasn’t been enough going on on Ute Trail this past year, what with families having to spend the night in their snow-bound cars, people nearly freezing to death, even a high-speed chase, another tragedy hit on Friday night, April 19. A fire totally destroyed the log cabin home of Jeff and Katie Parker, located at 24191 Fremont CR 12 (the continuation of Chaffee CR 2) in the area of Fremont County known as Gribbles Park.

The family was out of town visiting extended family for the Easter weekend and heard about the fire from their neighbor Charlie Bearden Saturday morning.

“He called and told us ‘It’s gone. It’s all gone,’” said Parker speaking by phone on Tuesday. “We couldn’t believe it. I mean – what do you do? It isn’t like there’s an instruction manual for how to deal with this.”

But the fire, as bad as that is to handle, may have brought about an even worse tragedy, says Parker. Their dog Vader, a 12-year-old Newfoundland, is missing. The dog was being checked on regularly while they were gone for the weekend. He had a doggie door from an enclosed area of their home from which he could come and go, but Parker says they simply don’t know what happened to him after the fire started.

“We haven’t found him on the main floors of our house, and he was too old to manage the stairs down to the basement,” said Parker. “So we think he was just frightened by the fire and simply ran off to get away from the smoke and flames.”

Newfoundlands are known as ‘gentle giants,’ a highly intelligent working dog breed that tops 150 pounds. Parker thinks the enormous, black Newfoundland, who has a wide red collar that barely shows under his dark coat, ran off, but may not have gone very far. Their home sits in a bowl area half way between Stirrup Ranch and Badger Creek Ranch. She is hoping that after the fire when Vader calmed down he might have remained in the area.

“It’s a bowl area about six miles across. He’s older, so we don’t think he would go beyond the bowl area,” said Parker. “But I hope someone doesn’t mistake him for a bear – he’s big and fluffy and black and sweet as can be. This is bad, but losing him would be so much worse.”

The reference to bears has some history in the area. The Gribbles Park name comes from the days of ‘Old Mose’, the legendary grizzly bear that used to terrorize the area more than a century ago. Wednesday will be a tough day for the Parker’s, as they meet the fire inspector and sift through rubble and ashes. Parker is hoping that there might be some good news about Vader from the community. “If he’s alive, he’ll be tired and hungry. We hope if he’s alive people can help us find him.”

Anyone sighting Vader is asked to call Parker at 813-477-7690.