East Troublesome fire explodes toward Grand Lake prompting immediate discharges

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The East Troublesome fire in Grand County exploded east on Wednesday toward Grand Lake, prompting urgent evacuations over a broad area and creating a smoke plume so large it was visible on the Front Range.

“We’ve had a lot of activity today,” Incident Commander Jake Winfield during said during a video briefing on Wednesday night.

The fire, which began on Oct. 14 near Kremmling, has burned about 30,000 acres, including roughly 10,000 acres on Wednesday alone. It is 10% contained. Its cause is under investigation.

A map of the East Troublesome fire before it exploded east on Wednesday. (Handout)

“The fire is growing faster than we can catch it right now,” Winfield warned.

Winfield said the blaze is “outflanking” fire crews.

The East Troublesome fire on Oct. 16, 2020. (Handout)

The Grand County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday night issued an evacuation order for all areas west of U.S. 34 along Grand Lake, a massive area which runs between Granby and Estes Park. Colorado 125 has been shut down between Granby and Walden because the fire has jumped across the roadway.

All trails on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park have been closed because of the fire.

Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin said he’s not too worried about Granby, a population center, being evacuated or being directly affected by the fire. Hot Sulphur Springs, he said, also appears to be out of harm’s way for the time being.

The Cal-Wood and Lefthand Canyon fires in Boulder County, which ignited over the weekend and quickly burned thousands of acres, were relatively inactive on Wednesday, but fierce winds are heading into the area on Wednesday night into Thursday.

Officials evacuated Lyons Park Estates on the northeast side of the Cal-Wood fire as a precaution in anticipation of the windstorm. Already the Cal-Wood fire has destroyed 20 homes.

Some people were anxious about smoke over Boulder on Wednesday being from the Boulder County fires, but officials say it was actually from the East Troublesome fire.

MORE: Five charts that show where 2020 ranks in Colorado wildfire history

All of Colorado is under drought status and facing extreme fire conditions after a hot, dry summer. The U.S. Forest Service closed the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests in Clear Creek, Jefferson, Gilpin, Boulder, and Larimer counties on Wednesday out of fear of another fire starting.

Firefighting resources are being spread thin between the Boulder County blazes, the East Troublesome fire and the still-raging Cameron Peak fire west of Fort Collins, which last week because the largest in Colorado’s recorded history.

A reprieve in the form of a significant snowstorm is expected to move into Colorado over the weekend. However firefighters are still bracing for several more weeks battling the blazes afflicting the state.

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