Colorad(CBS4) – The East Troublesome Fire has exploded in size to 125,602 acres. Flames from the wildfire raced through the beloved Colorado town of Grand Lake Wednesday and into the western territory of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Absolutely devastating and dire situation in Grand County. A firefighter paramedic shared this from the front lines. Homes are burning. Sheriff says the fire is growing massively at 6k acres an hour #EastTroublesomeFire #CBS4 #CBS4Mornings pic.twitter.com/vGkB0YyaOc
— Kerry O'Connor (@kerryoc_tv) October 22, 2020
So far it’s not clear just how much damage the wildfire did in the Grand Lake community, according to Mayor Steve Kudron.
“We know that historic buildings and businesses are on people’s minds, and we just don’t have confirmed information at this time. Many of the buildings and the establishments, they are the heart and soul of our community. And as soon we know something definitive, we’ll share with those who are affected and the community,” Kudron said late Thursday morning.
Earlier on Thursday morning the entire national park was closed to visitors, then during the day the wildfire jumped across the Continental Divide.
All of #RMNP is closed to visitors due to fire activity on the west side of the Continental Divide. If conditions allow, an Infrared flight is planned to gauge where there is current fire activity. This is a rapidly evolving situation. Currently, air quality is hazardous #RMNP.
— RockyNPS (@RockyNPS) October 22, 2020
Wildfire incident commander Noel Livingston, called it “an amazing amount of fire spread” in a Thursday morning briefing.
“Obviously yesterday was a significant fire day,” said the fire manager. “We saw about 20 miles of fire growth through the afternoon and into the night, which equates to about 100,000 acres of additional fire activity over that same time period.”
Livingston said the East Troublesome Fire’s growth on Wednesday can be explained by several factors: strong winds, excessively dry conditions, low relatively humidity and beetle-kill trees among the fuels in the high elevations the wildfire spread through.
Conditions are not in any way ideal for fighting the fire again on Thursday. Conditions remain dry and more high winds are possible. More extreme fire growth is likely.
“We are working closely with local communities to make sure they have the support they need and will continue to do so in the aftermath, and rebuilding phase from these fires,” Gov. Jared Polis said on Thursday afternoon. “So let’s lift each other up. Let’s lend a hand, whether that’s donating support to the fire response, whether it’s offering a temporary home to your own friends or family that might be in evacuated areas, that’s who we are as a state that’s who we are as a people. And I know I say this a lot and it certainly bears repeating — no matter what, we’re all in this together. We’re going to get through this together as a state.”
Wildland firefighter John Demaris was among the hundreds who worked through the night trying to keep the wildfire from burning homes and structures in the populated areas it moved into. He was operating a bulldozer as part of a team on the fire line.
“We were pushing trees down around houses, whatever we could do to to just kind of get a containment,” he told CBS4.
— Dominic Garcia (@CBS4Dom) October 22, 2020
There were times he was right up against the wildfire.
“We were going direct, I mean you’re right there on the fire line so when you’re in a dozer like that, you’re punching a line and what that means is you’re going right on that fire edge. ”
The fire moved so fast that he said he and his team had to move out of harm’s way at one point.