Recovering from the East Troublesome Fire


Carly Philpott

Beyond Recognition: a road sign just within Rocky Mountain National Park near Grand Lake stands burned only a few yards from where the fire was stopped by firefighters. The Grand Lake entrances to Rocky Mountain National Park were closed, as well as Kawuneeche Visitor Center. A smaller park road remained open with access to employee residences (which had mostly been saved from the fire), a singed picnic ground along the Green Mountain Trail, which was virtually gone, and some residences just outside the park. The fire burned both sides of this smaller road. The sign stands on the edge of a wetland that was also completely destroyed. (Green Mountain Trail, near Trail Ridge Road)

Carly Philpott, News Editor

It’s been two months since the East Troublesome Wildfire first sparked in the Arapaho National Forest. Within nine days, the fire had grown by over 85,000 acres and would go on to top 190,000 acres, destroying nearly 600 structures and killing two people over the next month and a half.

As Colorado sinks further into drought, our fires are getting worse and worse. For many, this means the very land they live on is becoming near-inhabitable. In the past, fire season has typically lasted from mid-summer to the first big snow in October. But now, fire season appears to be growing.

The Cameron Peak Fire, located located on the northern end of Rocky Mountain National Park, survived two major snows this fall, continuing to grow well into October and not being fully contained until early November. Meanwhile, the East Troublesome Fire, located along the southern end of Rocky Mountain National Park and down to Granby, began in October, after fire season should’ve been over, and then quickly grew to be the second biggest wildfire in Colorado history, surviving cold temperatures and one major snow.

The East Troublesome Fire was so powerful that it burned through wetlands and groves of aspen trees, which usually remain relatively untouched by wildfires. The fire was mostly a forest fire, but as it moved south, it became a brush fire, singeing the hills above Granby.

The fire has been 100 percent contained as of Nov. 30, and while some hotspots still remain, they are no longer threatening and are expected to disappear.

This gallery covers the damage and recovery from the East Troublesome Fire in the southeast region of its range, Grand County.

The featured photo in this story won honorable mention News Feature Photo from CSMA.