All missing people accounted for as snow provides teams battling East Troublesome fire a reprieve

Colorado News
A snowy Grand Lake captured on a Colorado Department of Transportation camera on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (CDOT)

A winter storm battering Colorado on Sunday and into Monday is giving firefighters battling the East Troublesome and Cameron Peak fires a much needed reprieve.

“We don’t anticipate any fire growth today or tomorrow with this storm. It may be quite a few days before we see any fire activity whatsoever,” said Paul Delmerico, operations section chief on the Cameron Peak fire and the East Troublesome fire’s zone near Estes Park. “That’s great news for our firefighters on the ground.”

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Noel Livingston, incident commander for the Grand County side of the East Troublesome fire, said the winter weather is allowing crews to “get things mopped up and secure.”

Several inches of snow has fallen across the high country. As much as six inches of snow was reported in Grand Lake.

A winter storm warning is in effect for the burn area through 6 a.m. on Monday morning. Cold temperatures are expected to stick around for much of the coming week.

The break comes after the East Troublesome fire made an epic run Wednesday night into Thursday across Grand County and into Rocky Mountain National Park, burning homes and killing two people near Grand Lake. The blaze has torched nearly 200,000 acres so far and is just 10% contained.

MORE: East Troublesome fire evacuees fled in minutes. Now it could be days before they know the fate of their homes.

On Saturday, high winds pushed the fire closer to Estes Park, but firefighters were able to keep the flames from advancing toward YMCA of the Rockies, which was under significant threat, or the town.

Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin said that all missing and accounted people have been located.

“We do not have any other people on our missing persons or (unaccounted for) lists at this time,” he said Sunday.

Schroetlin cautioned, however, that the East Troublesome fire is now over and that the disaster continues.

“We’re not out of the fire potential,” he said. “We have to plan for the unprecedented.”

The East Troublesome fire as seen from Cottonwood Pass looking north on the evening of Wednesday, Oct 21, 2020. (Andrew Lussie via InciWeb)

Schroetlin said Grand County has compiled preliminary estimates of the number of homes destroyed and damaged by the fire, but he declined to release that information, saying that he wants it to be totally accurate before it’s made public.

The Grand Lake Fire Protection District announced on Facebook that the homes of several first responders were destroyed by the East Troublesome fire.

“We have a lot of homes, unfortunately, that are destroyed,” Schroetlin said.

MORE: First coronavirus, then an inferno: How schools in the East Troublesome fire’s path are scrambling to keep their students learning

The East Troublesome fire’s cause remains under investigation. Authorities preliminarily believe it was caused by a person or people. It has been burning since Oct. 14 and is the second largest fire recorded in Colorado history.

Mandatory evacuations remain in place in Grand and Larimer counties, including for the communities of Grand Lake and western Estes Park, because of the East Troublesome fire.

The town of Estes Park is now under a pre-evacuation status.

Rocky Mountain National Park remains closed.

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