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Hundreds Flee Explosive Wildfire in Colorado

Published in 22 October, 2020

At a Glance

  • A week-old wildfire in Colorado exploded in size overnight Wednesday.

  • The entire town of Grand Lake was evacuated.

A wildfire in Colorado exploded in size overnight Wednesday, forcing an entire town to evacuate as it grew at a rate of 6,000 acres per hour.

The fire, known as the East Troublesome Fire, has burned through nearly 30 square miles and was just 10 percent contained. Those figures are likely severely outdated with the fire growth rate so explosive overnight.

Indeed, early infrared satellite estimates suggested the fire could now be more than six times that size. If confirmed, that would make the fire the fourth-largest in state history.

Evacuations started Wednesday afternoon and expanded late into the evening to include the entire town of Grand Lake, Colorado. The town of a few hundred people rests in the Rockies at an elevation of over 8,000 feet, about 30 miles northwest of Boulder, Colorado.

The fire was so explosive and fast-moving that it prompted rescues, last-second evacuations and fears of torched livelihoods.

“I don’t know what we’ll see in the morning, to be honest,” Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin said in a heartfelt message posted on Facebook. “But you know what? Together, as a community, we’re going to get through this.”

The fire also forced the closure of the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park.

The fire started last week but exploded in size on Wednesday, helped along by strong winds and low humidity.

“We looked at every possible potential for this fire. We never, ever expected 6,000 acres per hour to come upon our community,” Schroetlin said. “The winds were strong. The fire behavior was strong. It was a challenging day.”

Weather will offer no relief on Thursday – low humidity and wind gusts up to 45 mph are in the forecast for the fire area.

There are several other wildfires burning across Colorado, including the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest fire in state history.

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