GRAND COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The East Troublesome Fire has burned nearly 29,000 acres inside Rocky Mountain National Park, and on Friday, the park service said there was no timeline for reopening.
“These are the largest fires, that not only the state of Colorado is experiencing, but also Rocky Mountain National Park in our 105-year history,” said Kyle Patterson, Public Affairs Officer for RMNP.
Patterson said that with the rapid growth of the fire last Wednesday into Thursday, structures within the park were lost, mainly on the west side of the park. Staff living on the east side have since been allowed back in, but those living on the west side are still under mandatory evacuation.
“The evacuations that we’re hearing about on the west side were so dramatic that it was really focused on life and safety at that point and not… you know, no opportunity to do structure protection, so we do know that we lost some structures on the west side,” said Patterson.
Patterson confirmed that while housing on the west side may be dealing with some burst pipes, it was still standing.
She said more details on structure loss would likely come next week, but there was some good news.
“We’re really fortunate, Jamie, that we know that the Kawaneeche Visitor Center on the west side, is still standing strong. We know that that’s a beloved building and a landmark for people.”
While the recent snowfall has helped to slow the fire, Patterson noted that it was still burning and many hazards remained.
“We know that on the west side and on the east side we’re seeing a lot of trees falling and power lines that are down.”
While park staff have been working to clear roadways and assess what areas are safe for visitors to return to, Patterson said she knows there will still be areas inaccessible for some time.
“Depending on what fire behavior we have this weekend, we will also be assessing that early next week, with the hopes that we will be able to reopen some sections of the park, but we know that where there’s active fire right now, we will not be able to open those sections of the park,” said Patterson.
The National Park Service is asking for patience as it puts visitor and staff safety first.
A map of burned areas within the park can be found here.