LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) — Emergency shelter space provided by the American Red Cross for evacuees is thinning out. A spokesperson for The Red Cross said the main evacuation shelter, the Embassy Suites in eastern Loveland, was at capacity as thousands evacuated from around Estes Park.
More than 1,300 people impacted by the Cameron Peak Fire were being served by the Red Cross before Thursday morning. After the East Troublesome Fire sparked and spread, an estimated 6,000 more people were ordered to evacuate.
With such a large number of people seeking shelter, and a pandemic preventing the Red Cross from allowing people to sleep in close quarters on cots, many pre-planned hotel reservations were filled quickly.
“It was really scary, everyone was freaking out,” said Abigail, an evacuee. “It’s awful.”
Residents in communities to the west of Estes Park were given short notice due to how fast the East Troublesome Fire sparked. Mandatory evacuations were enforced for many on short notice.
“It was just chaotic,” said Christopher, an evacuee.
“We were trying to pack all of our things and stuff it in to our car to get out of there,” Abigail said.
Pete and Carol Smith, residents of a community in southwestern Estes Park, said they evacuated after the East Troublesome Fire rages right toward their home. Though miles away, as of Thursday night, the Smiths said their home was directly in the line the fire was heading toward.
“They told us it was voluntary [evacuations] this morning. So, we started packing our cars. And 10 minutes later it was mandatory,” Pete Smith told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “So, we said, ‘We are out of here!’“
A spokesperson for The Red Cross told CBS4 their response to the Cameron Peak and East Troublesome fires is the third largest project the organization is currently addressing in the United States. That ranking based off of people impacted and dollars spent.
The same spokesperson guessed the Colorado Red Cross response would soon jump to second largest response in the country, and could possibly become larger than that of the California fires.
While firefighters from around the state and country respond to the two fires, residents who evacuated the area say they are remaining optimistic that many structures and open spaces will be preserved.
“God is in control. We are just praying for everybody,” Carol Smith said.