East Troublesome Fire in Colorado become the state's 2nd largest in only 9 days
Grand County, Colorado- On October 14th, 2020 a fire was reported around 4 p.m. By 6 p.m. it had burned 388 acres.
On October 15th it had grown to 5,672 acres.
The next day, on October 16th it about doubled in size to 11,329 acres.
October 17th was not a huge growth day and ended at 12,621 acres, but on this day a mandatory evacuation was put in place for both sides of Highway 125 from mile post 5 up to the Grand County/ Jackson County line.
October 18th through 20th were also slow growing days. The 18th ended at 13,400 acres. The 19th was recorded as 15,537 acres. The 20th was reported at total 15,546 acres.
October 19th saw a little more growth and ended the dad at 15,537 acres, but the 20th only added 9 acres to bring the total acreage burned to 15,546.
Wednesday October 21st was a very bad day for conditions. The wind had started to pick up through the day. The reported numbers grew almost 4,000 acres to 19,086, but things took a major turn for the worst.
Wednesday evening brought terrible wind. Many people went to work like usual in the morning and by the evening were scrambling to pack what they needed to evacuate the area. At 4:15 the mandatory evacuation for Highway 125 was expanded to the south from milepost 5 to Highway 40.
At 6:23 p.m. the Grand County Sheriff's Office issued a mandatory evacuation for the Trail creek subdivision east of the Highway 125 evacuation area.
At 6:41 p.m. a pre-evacuation was put in place for areas along Highway 34 from milepost 2 to Rocky Mountain National Park. By 6:57 p.m., all areas west of Highway 34 were in a mandatory evacuation. At 7:31 p.m., everyone along Highway 34 was under a mandatory evacuation. The following map shows all evacuation and pre-evacuation areas at that time.
Overnight, this fire grew at an alarming rate. With the winds to help it along, it was burning 6,000 acres an hour. By October 22nd, the total area burned had grown to 125,602 acres.
Sadly, more evacuations were on the way due to the high winds in the area. On October 22nd at 11:52 a.m., areas closer to the town of Granby were given mandatory evacuations. This new area was south of Highway 40 from the town limits to a few miles west of Highway 125.
At 12:05 p.m., another mandatory evacuation was ordered for all areas north of Granby. Pre-evacuation was put in place for the town proper as well as areas south and east of town. The town of Hot Sulphur Springs, 11 miles west of Granby was also placed on pre-evacuation. By October 23rd, 170,163 acres had burned.
Good news was on the way. A snow storm was forecast for the weekend. On Sunday, October 25th, it started to snow. They accumulated up to a foot on snow in areas which helped to suppress the ground fires in the grass and the bushes. The snow brought it's own challenges. Many houses were without power and with the cold temperatures, these homes were in danger of flooding from burst pipes. The Sheriff's Office worked with over 65 contractors to systematically go to homes and turn off water. It was slow work due to the large amounts of snow accumulating, but many homes were able to be saved from flooding.
The fire is far from over but the snow did help to allow firefighters to get a better handle on the situation. At the time of this writing, the fire has burned 193,774 acres and is 30% contained. Many areas have been released from evacuation orders but some are still in pre-evacuation. All areas South of Highway 40; the Town of Granby, the Town of Hot Sulphur Springs; the south end of County Rd 21, all areas south of Granby through Tabernash as well as the following area in the map below have been released from all evacuation orders.
On Monday residents to the east of Highway 34 were allowed access to their homes. This area is still under a pre-evacuation and residents are urged to be vigilant since the wildfire is still active. The west side of Highway 34 is still closed to residents, but the Sheriff's Office and damage assessments teams are checking homes and addresses to find which have been affected by the fire and contacting homeowners. They are working on a re-entry plan to allow residents in unaffected neighborhoods the ability to go home.
Below you will find pictures from Grand County residents. If you would like to donate to this community, please visit The Grand Foundation website here.