Money rolls in for blast victims

Colorado Mesa University student Kolby Gimmeson enjoys a hamburger during a benefit Saturday afternoon at Primerica Financial Services on First Street for the students displaced by Tuesday’s gas explosion. His face and both arms were badly burned in the natural gas explosion that destroyed two homes.

Literally blown out of his home Tuesday, Kolby Gimmeson woke up Wednesday with next to nothing in terms of possessions.

On Saturday, he was overwhelmed by them.

“I just can’t believe the support,” said Gimmeson, 21, a Colorado Mesa University junior who attended a benefit and cookout Saturday at Primerica Financial Services, 1119 N. First St., Suite F. As of midmorning Saturday, approximately $4,500 in cash and gift cards had been donated by community members, according to J.D. Muller, the company’s regional vice president.

Gimmeson and other victims of Tuesday’s natural gas-fed explosion at 1752 N. Seventh St. and related fire, which also leveled 1742 N. Seventh St., gathered to assess immediate needs and learn how the items would be distributed.

The offers of support have numbered more than Gimmeson said he’s been able to respond to.

“The city of Grand Junction, the school, Red Cross and just random members of the community have been amazing,” he said.

The Western Colorado Chapter of the American Red Cross paid for rooms for Gimmeson and his family over five days at Grand Vista Hotel and also provided cash.

Gimmeson said CMU President Tim Foster called him with an offer to provide a dorm and meal plan for the remaining school year. All school textbooks — running roughly $200 apiece — have been replaced free of charge, Gimmeson said.

Gimmeson said he redresses a bandage covering third-degree burns on his left arm on a daily basis while applying medicine for third- and second-degree burns on his face.

Gimmeson and his roommate, Casey Zabel, a sophomore at CMU, were sitting on their couch around noon Tuesday at 1752 N. Seventh St. when they lit incense to obscure a strong smell akin to onions and garlic. The lighting caused an explosion that sent the men crashing into the roof. Zabel has since been released from the hospital, Gimmeson said.

The experience has left him ready for whatever else life has to offer, he said.

“Today, I’m going to get me a burger and maybe get a nap,” Gimmeson said.


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