GRAND COUNTY, Colo. — Residents in the town of Grand Lake, as well as those living north, west and along Highway 34, were told to evacuate their homes immediately following the explosive growth of the East Troublesome Fire, which was rapidly moving northeast Wednesday night.
The Grand County Sheriff issued the mandatory evacuation for all areas north and west of Highway 34 and the Highway 40 intersection, including the area east of Highway 125 from mile post 5 to Highway 40; the Trail Creek subdivision - Area 1; as well as those living in the area west of Highway 34 - including all residents north of mile marker 3 and Area H. Evacuees were told to go south on Highway 34, if possible.
An evacuation center has been established at the Inn at Silver Creek in Granby, 62927 US-40.
Click here for an evacuation map, which is also shown below.
The wildfire grew significantly late in the afternoon following high winds that whipped Colorado's foothills earlier in the day. It's unclear how big the wildfire has become; at last check, the wildfire was 19,086 acres in size and 10% contained. Winds overnight pushed the fire south to Kinney Creek and north.
The west side of Rocky Mountain National Park also closed Wednesday evening to everyone but evacuees due to fire activity from the East Troublesome Fire. Trail Ridge Road is currently open for evacuation eastbound if needed, a spokesperson said. The west side of Trail Ridge Road is closed westbound at Rainbow Curve.
"Travelers should be aware of smoke, wind, weather and fire conditions as fire activity is rapidly changing and road closures may be put in place quickly," a RMNP spokesperson said in a statement.
Highway 34 is closed between the intersection of Highway 40 (mile point 1) and and Grand Lake (mile point 15) for fire operations. Highway 40 is also closed in both directions between Hot Sulfur Springs (mile point 202) and the intersection with Highway 34 (mile point 211), according to CDOT. Highway 125 is also closed, county officials said.
"This afternoon, fire behavior has picked up with warmer temperatures and wind," reads a Facebook post from the Grand County Office of Emergency Management. "Considerable smoke is blowing into the Grand Lake area."
The East Troublesome Fire, in Grand County, has exploded this afternoon in Fire Imagery. Those in mandatory evacuation areas should evacuate immediately!!! #cowx #cofire #EastTroublesomeFire pic.twitter.com/hgGTtsNg8Q
— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) October 21, 2020
Critical fire weather was expected at the East Troublesome Fire on Wednesday, beginning around noon. Combined with the dry conditions, this wind could increase fire activity and cause it to rapidly spread, according to the National Weather Service.
Residents and travelers may seem dense smoke in the area, fire officials said.
On Wednesday, air resources will focus on the fire's northwestern area to stop the blaze from moving farther in that direction. A similar effort is being made to the southeast.
The fire was reported on Oct. 14 north of Hot Sulphur Springs. Its cause remains under investigation.
The map below shows how the fire spread east after it was first reported.
Fire officials said the estimated date of full containment is Nov. 10.
Grand County residents can sign up for CodeRED alerts to receive emergency notifications regarding this fire and other disasters. Click here to sign up. In addition, fire officials are holding a virtual public meeting Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. on Facebook for both the East Troublesome Fire and Williams Fork Fire.
Denver7 Gives has started a new fundraising campaign for victims of Colorado's wildfires. To donate, go here and then look for "Help Colorado Wildfire Victims" in the dropdown. We are working with our community partners up and down the Front Range to ensure every dollar raised stays in Colorado and helps families who've lost so much.