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East Troublesome Fire, second-largest in Colorado history, declared 100% contained

Fire burned 193,812 total acres in Grand and Larimer counties
East Troublesome Fire, second-largest in Colorado history, declared 100% contained
Posted at 12:13 PM, Dec 01, 2020

DENVER – Officials declared the East Troublesome Fire – the second-largest in Colorado’s recorded history – 100% contained on Monday after weeks of cooler weather and snow.

Fire managers said that pockets of heat still exist within the fire boundary but are not expected to threaten any containment lines.

The fire was declared contained after burning 193,812 total acres in Grand and Larimer counties after it started on Oct. 14 northeast of Kremmling.

The fire destroyed or damaged 366 residential structures and 214 secondary structures, officials said Tuesday – most of them when it exploded in size on the afternoon and night of Oct. 21 into the morning of Oct. 22, growing more than 150,000 acres in a 24-hour period and driven by near-hurricane-force winds. Two people died in the fire in the Grand Lake area when they refused to leave their home.

The fire crossed the Continental Divide and burned through areas of Rocky Mountain National Park, forcing evacuations for several days in much of the park and Estes Park.

Grand Lake and the surrounding areas, on the west side of the Continental Divide, experienced most of the structure loss caused by the fire, but firefighters were able to keep it from reaching Granby to the southeast.

At one point, more than 35,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders.

Snow and extremely cold temperatures moved into the area the weekend of Oct. 24-26, which greatly reduced fire behavior moving forward on all sides of the fire, officials said.

Most of the areas evacuated because of the fire saw residents return home by early November.

"Each one of these numbers is a friend, family, co-worker, or neighbor with a loss. It is truly unimaginable," Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin said at the time.

The fire grew only 4,500 acres over those days and has since grown only an estimated 1,400 acres before being declared contained on Tuesday.

READ MORE: How you can help victims of Colorado's wildfires

But there are months and years ahead of recovery for the Grand County communities who lost homes in the fire. Denver7 Gives continues to raise money that will go toward recovery efforts for individuals and for county emergency relief organizations as the rebuilding and recovery continues.

Fire officials said Tuesday that land managers in the area will continue to focus on the post-fire emergency response on National Forest, Rocky Mountain National Park, Bureau of Land Management and private lands, and said that some of the areas will remain closed for public safety purposes.

Officials said Tuesday the cause of the fire was still under investigation, though a state fire official said in October that officials believed it would be ruled as human-caused.

The East Troublesome Fire grew to the second-largest in state history and was one of three fires that now top the list of largest fires in Colorado’s recorded history.

The Cameron Peak Fire, which burned to the northeast of the East Troublesome Fire in Larimer County, was 208,913 acres in size and 94% contained as of Tuesday.

These are the state's 10 largest wildfires, ranked by acreage:
1. Cameron Peak Fire (2020): 208,913 acres
2. East Troublesome Fire (2020): 193,812 acres
3. Pine Gulch Fire (2020): 139,007 acres
4. Hayman Fire (2002): 137,760 acres
5. Spring Fire (2018): 108,045 acres
6. High Park Fire (2012): 87,284 acres
7. Missionary Ridge Fire (2002): 72,962 acres
8. 416 Fire (2018): 54,000 acres
9. Bridger Fire (2008): 45,800 acres
10. Last Chance Fire (2012): 45,000 acres
Note: The Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center said the West Fork Complex fire, which burned a total of 109,632 acres in 2013, is not included on this list since it involved three separate fires.