Friday, January 20, 2006

Community rallies around Swaner

Valley historian recuperating from fire injuries

Express Staff Writer

While Ivan Swaner recuperates in a Boise hospital from injuries related to a home fire, the community is showing an outpouring of support for the well-known local historian.

Swaner was listed in critical condition Thursday morning, according to Catie Holm, spokeswoman for St. Luke's Regional Medical Center in Boise.

Hospital policy is that no other information is provided, and there are no phones in the critical care unit, she added.

Swaner suffered from smoke inhalation Saturday evening when an electrical fire broke out in his Warm Springs cabin, said his neighbor Sue Engelmann.

While being treated at St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center, he suffered a heart attack, she said. He was transported to Boise Sunday morning.

Friends and family were visiting Swaner Thursday, and hoped to get him walking around his hospital room, Engelmann added.

The fire caused significant smoke damage to Swaner's cabin, as well as much of the home's contents.

As a local historian, Swaner had numerous maps, documents and artifacts in his home.

The Ketchum Fire Department saved some items, but many were severely damaged by smoke and heat. The building itself, however, did not burn down.

"The house's (contents) are not exposed to the weather," said assistant fire chief Mike Elle of the Ketchum Fire Department. "(Items) are still inside an enclosed building, and we'll leave it as is until Ivan comes back."

Immediate concern has revolved around finding a place for Swaner to live once he is released from the hospital, which friends estimate to be another 10 days.

Besides making donations to an account in Swaner's name at First Bank, dozens of people have been coming forward with offers of assistance.

"I've gotten calls from people from all walks of life and all points in his past," Engelmann said. "The support we've had in phone calls and offers that have come in from the community ... it's really great."

Truck repair, appliances, housing, furnishings, household items and other offers have been pouring in.

The Sawtooth Board of Realtors is working on securing interim housing for Swaner, Engelmann said.

Under consideration are renting a cabin at the Ketchum Korral or refurbishing and relocating a cabin from the former Bald Mountain Lodge.

A fundraiser is being conceptualized—a public party with Swaner as the guest of honor—but because the timeline for his recovery is uncertain at this early stage, the date hasn't been set, Engelmann said. A planning committee will meet at noon, Jan. 26 in Ketchum City Hall.

To help with goods, services or to be on an organizing committee, call Sue Engelmann at 622-8690.

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