Chugwater reacts to gas station fire

Jan 2, 2013

Horton's Corner gas station and convenience store in Chugwater was destroyed Sunday after a flaming car crashed into the building.
Credit Dianne Parker

Chugwater residents are adjusting to the destruction of their community’s cornerstone business. The small town’s only gas station and convenience store burned down Sunday, after a car crashed into the main building.

Authorities have arrested the driver, John Barberini of Casper, and are investigating the incident. Barberini has been charged with reckless driving and not having insurance.

Chugwater Fire Chief Tim Ash says it’s possible that the car was already on fire when it crashed into the building.

Ash says it’s tough for the town of about 200 people to be without a gas station. The nearest one is about 25 miles away. It’s especially complicated for the Fire Department.

“I’ve got enough fuel in the trucks right now to make about one more run,” says Tim Ash. “I’m sending a guy to Cheyenne today after fuel tanks. And we’ll just use fuel out of the tanks.”

Chugwater’s out-going Mayor Carol Ash – sister-in-law of the fire chief – says it’s a blow to the town to lose such a central business. She says residents bought groceries at Horton’s convenience store, and socialized there on their way in and out of town.

“The gas station is sort of the anchor business of our community. And it employs a number of people in Chugwater, and it’s the major draw of business into our community,” Carol Ash says.

Barb Dayton owns the Chugwater Soda Fountain, and says the loss of Horton’s has left a business vacuum in the community. Dayton says she’s going to offer more merchandise in the coming weeks.

“It’s probably gonna be good for me,” Dayton says. “It’s not a good thing for the community because they relied pretty heavily on Horton’s, and it’s gonna take me a while to accumulate and build my inventory to meet those needs.”

Dayton says she plans to shrink her inventory back to normal after Horton’s rebuilds.