GRANBY, Colo. (CBS4) – The burn area for the East Troublesome Fire has received between half a foot to 12 inches of snow on Sunday and Monday, but it’s not expected to be enough to put the massive Colorado wildfire out. Fire managers on Monday morning wrote from Granby that the snow has slowed fire activity, but downed logs and other large fuels are expected to smolder. The fire has burned 192,560 acres and it is 15% contained.
“Extended precipitation that stays on the ground and seeps into the fuels will be necessary to completely extinguish the fire,” fire managers wrote.
Extreme cold and dangerous driving conditions have for the most part kept firefighting crews away from the fire lines on Sunday and Monday. Most are stationed at the incident command post and many are repairing and “refeshing” equipment so they’ll be ready to head back out when the storm moves out. Light snowfall is expected to continue and Monday and then temperatures will warm up on Tuesday.
“The extremely low temperatures and snow present a new set of challenges from firefighter safety in cold temperatures, slick roads, falling trees and water pumps freezing up on fire engines,” fire managers wrote.
With the drop in fire activity, areas that remain under evacuation due to the wildfire will be surveyed by crews doing damage assessments. So far it’s not clear exactly how many homes were destroyed by the blaze in Grand County. A firefighting source told CBS4 over the weekend that 300-400 structures were lost in the area south-southwest of Grand Lake, between Highways 125 and 34.
There are evacuations in Grand County, Jackson County and Larimer County due to the fire. All of Rocky Mountain National Park remains closed to visitors due to the fire, and national forest land in and around the burn area is closed to the public.
The East Troublesome Fire is the second largest wildfire in recorded Colorado history. It started on Oct. 14 in a manner that remains under investigation, and last Wednesday it exploded in heavy winds and dry conditions, burning an unprecedented 100,000 acres in single day as it moved eastward across Grand County. It roared past Grand Lake and into the national park, crossing the Continental Divide in the process and creating a spot fire that led to evacuations for the Estes Park area.
A total of 473 personnel are involved in the firefight.