Colorado Fires: 2 deaths and more evacuations reported

Colorado’s second major fire grows Saturday before an expected winter storm and has already killed a couple in Grand Lake.

DENVER, Colorado – A powerful wildfire in northern Colorado forced an evacuation of the Estes Park resort on Saturday, increasing the threat that the incident could merge with another fire that has burned since August and become a megafire.

The East Troublesome fire , which began this week, continues to advance at a rate of up to 20,000 hectares burned per day, today forced the evacuation of Estes Park , the west entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, (RMNP).

The local authorities proclaimed this Saturday the “state of emergency” of that city, with a population of 6,300 people and headquarters of the Hotel Stanley, famous for the horror film The Shining, of 1980, directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Jack Nicholson.

Two people have died from this fire, Lyle Hileman, 86, and his wife Marylin, 84, residents of Grand Lake, who apparently were unable or unwilling to leave their home, said Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin.

Schroetlin announced that the losses of homes and structures in Grand Lake and neighboring towns are “numerous and counted in the dozens,” although the flames still prevent ground personnel from visiting the affected areas.

Authorities’ biggest concern now is that the East Troublesome flames will join the Cameron Peak fire that has been burning since August, and is being fueled by strong winds with gusts of up to 100 kilometers per hour .

“Our concern is that the combination of the forecast winds and low humidity will fan the flames” of the East Troublesome fire, “which continues to spread east and southwest,” Schroetlin stressed.

One of the many affected people is Mexican immigrant Christian Rubi, founder of Conquistando las Montañas, whose home and business “the investment of a lifetime,” as he describes them, were destroyed by flames near Grand Lake.

“My family and I left the area just in time and now we are in our other home in Denver. But a lot of people lost everything and don’t even have a temporary place to stay, ”Rubi said.

The East Troublesome has only been 4% contained , while the Cameron Peak flames have been 60% contained thanks to two months of work by some 1,900 firefighters.

Even so, four villages were evacuated in recent days and the initial cost of the losses caused by the fire is already close to $ 100 million.

And while rain and snow are anticipated in the next 48 hours, far from helping, that weather situation “will complicate efforts to evacuate people, assess damage and fight the fire,” said Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith.

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