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Funeral pyres an option in Colo. mountain town

By IVAN MORENO Associated Press

January 31, 2011

Belinda Ellis' farewell went as she wanted. One by one, her family placed juniper boughs and logs about her body, covered in red cloth atop a rectangular steel grate inside a brick-lined hearth. With a torch, her husband lit the fire that consumed her, sending billows of smoke into the blue-gray sky of dawn.

The outdoor funeral pyre in the southern Colorado mountain town of Crestone is unique. Funeral and cremation industry officials say they are unaware of any other place in the nation that conducts open-air cremations for people regardless of religion.

The nondenominational Crestone End of Life Project is the volunteer group that performs the cremations. The only catch: You must be a resident of town to qualify for the service.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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