“Lots of structure loss” after East Troublesome fire’s explosion into Grand Lake, but changing weath


Massive Grand County fire charred another 50,000 acres Thursday, topping 170,000 acres to become the second largest fire in Colorado's history

🖊 THE COLORADO SUN 📸 US NEWS & Eli Pace, Sky-Hi News

The East Troublesome fire caused widespread destruction as it swept across Grand County on Wednesday night and Thursday morning toward Grand Lake, entering an area packed with homes, lodges and other businesses.

The fire burned an additional 50,000 acres Thursday, bringing it to 170,000 acres and making it the second largest fire on record in Colorado.

But there was good news during a community briefing Thursday evening. Incident commander Noel Livingston said a cold front moving into the Front Range had drawn moisture from the plains, causing the part of the fire burning inside Rocky Mountain National Park “to fall down to the surface and check itself.”

“It is not moving toward Estes Park as it was earlier in the day,” he said.

Still, Livingston warned, the fire will likely continue to grow.

Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin, who called the fire the “worst of the worst,” said Thursday morning there was “lots of structure loss,” but didn’t have details on how many homes and businesses had burned. There were no injuries or deaths reported, but as of Thursday evening, he said there could be as many as five people unaccounted for.

“The fire got ahead of us, there is no doubt about it,” he said during a briefing midday Thursday. “We can’t control Mother Nature.”

Schroetlin said he did not “want to put fear in the community,” but urged people to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice should the fire spread amid still-dangerous conditions. He has placed the town of Granby, Hot Sulphur Springs and Parshall on pre-evacuation notice.

“Pack those bags. Collect your belongings,” he said. “I know a lot of people don’t want to leave their homes. I understand that. “Please evacuate.”

Schroetlin said the fire, which has been burning since Oct. 14, grew at a rate of about 6,000 acres an hour on Wednesday night and acted more erratically than even worst-case scenarios suggested it could. By Thursday morning, it had torched an estimated 125,600 acres — growing sixfold over a matter of hours — and burned into Rocky Mountain National Park.

“We never, ever expected 6,000 acres per hour to come upon our community,” he said in an earlier video briefing.

The fire zipped through the northern edge of the C Lazy U Ranch along Colorado 125, destroying two homes, ranch owner Dean Singleton said Thursday.

The two homes were among about 25 family homes on the ranch, which had sold individual lots. The historic dude ranch near Granby also has luxury cabins for rent, plus 200 horses, which were evacuated Friday under pre-evacuation orders, said Singleton, former owner of The Denver Post. Most of the ranch’s employees were evacuated last weekend, ahead of mandatory evacuation orders that came Wednesday.

On Thursday morning, Singleton was awaiting news about the rest of the ranch and hoping that the fire had moved north without destroying any more of the property.

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