More than 300 homes were destroyed by the East Troublesome fire last month when it made an epic run across Grand County and became the second largest wildfire in Colorado’s recorded history.
The news was shared Sunday evening by Grand County Brett Schroetlin, who added that an additional 100 to 200 secondary structures — including barns and garages — were also destroyed by the blaze.
“I will never forget watching a family return to their house for that first time,” Schroeltin said in a Facebook post, “parents trying to find anything they can to move forward, children trying to find that favorite toy, and each grieving in their own way. There was no words that I could say that made this any better for those families. But what I can say is that with each new day, we are continuing to move forward as a community.”
The fire has burned nearly 200,000 acres and killed two people, Lyle and Marilyn Hileman, who refused to evacuate on Oct. 21 as the blaze made its from run Kremmling into Rocky Mountain National Park. The couple was found in their longtime home near Grand Lake.
A winter storm last week helped stop the fire’s advance. It is now 37% contained.
“The snow has really parked the fire,” Dan Quinones, an incident commander trainee working on the fire, said Friday.
Authorities have been unable to provide a clear picture of the damage caused by the fire until now because it was active until the snowstorm came through. Then, the snowstorm made damage assessment work more difficult, covering up properties that were devastated by flames and making them hard to access.
The destruction toll makes the East Troublesome fire one of the worst in Colorado history in terms of homes destroyed.
The 2013 Black Forest fire northeast of Colorado Springs remains the most destructive, burning 489 homes. The Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs in 2012 destroyed 347 homes.
The Cameron Peak fire west of Fort Collins, which is still burning and is the largest recorded fire in Colorado history, has destroyed 222 homes or cabins. That fire is burning near scar of the High Park fire, which in 2012 destroyed 259 homes or cabins.
Vicky Winterscheidt is among those who lost a home in the East Troublesome fire. Her family had a cabin on County Road 4955 near Grand Lake for 10 years. It was a second home, though she and her husband were there when the fire came through last week.
Winterscheidt estimates that 25 of the 30 homes in her neighborhood were destroyed. “Almost to a person, every person said they are planning to rebuild,” she said, relaying information from an email chain.
Her family, too, is planning to build a new home.