More than 300 homes and between 100 and 200 secondary structures like barns and garages were destroyed by the East Troublesome fire, Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin said in a statement Sunday.
Many of those who lost their homes returned to their neighborhoods for the first time on Sunday, Schroetlin said in the statement.
“I will never forget watching a family return to their house for that first time,” he said. “Parents trying to find anything they can to move forward, children trying to find that favorite toy, and each grieving in their own way.”
The sheriff said crews hope to reopen the majority of the impacted areas to the public by noon Monday, but said Highway 125 will remain closed from mile marker 5.3 to the north in both directions. No access will be allowed to the homes on either side of the highway in that stretch, he said in the statement.
County Road 491 will also remain closed “just past the (Rocky Mountain) National Park housing area,” Schroetlin said.
He said the areas that have reopened are considered safe from “imminent or known life safety risks,” but said residents should be aware that not all utilities in impacted neighborhoods are fully working, and that some fire potential remains despite the recent winter weather in the region.
The East Troublesome fire, which grew an astounding 150,000 acres overnight earlier this month, forcing many residents to evacuate with only a few minutes notice, has not grown significantly since a winter storm dropped several inches of snow across the fire on Oct. 25.
The blaze stands at the second-largest wildfire in Colorado’s recorded history, with 193,774 acres burned, or about 302 square miles. It burned just west of Lake Granby, into the neighborhoods around Grand Lake, and hopped the Continental Divide to burn into Rocky Mountain National Park, coming within a few miles of the Cameron Peak fire to the north, which is the largest recorded fire in state history, with 208,913 acres burned, or about 326 square miles.
Click markers for details, use buttons to change what wildfires are shown. Map data is automatically updated by government agencies and could lag real-time events. Incident types are numbered 1-5 — a type 1 incident is a large, complex wildfire affecting people and critical infrastructure, a type 5 incident is a small wildfire with few personnel involved. Find more information about incident types at the bottom of this page.
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