Strong winds Saturday could push East Troublesome Fire closer to Estes Park

Two people who refused to evacuate were killed in the Colorado fire

Updated October 24, 2020   |   6:35 p.m. MDT

East Troublesome Fire
Map, east side of the East Troublesome Fire at 4:45 p.m. MDT Oct. 24, 2020.

At about 5:50 p.m. there was a report of sleet and light rain at the fire, which has paused at Bear Lake Road, about a mile west of Estes Park.

The weather station near Estes Park recorded wind speeds Saturday afternoon at 10 to 15 mph with gusts above 30 mph, while the relative humidity was in the low 20s and the temperature was 53 degrees.

East Troublesome Fire
Mr. Mauro is an anchor and reporter at @KDVR, FOX31, and @channel2kwgn

Updated October 24, 2020   |   1:48 p.m. MDT

map East Troublesome Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park
Map of the Thompson Zone of the East Troublesome Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park. Colorado Multi-Mission Aircraft map at noon MDT Oct. 24, 2020. Estes Park is at upper-right..

Updated map of the East Troublesome Fire — noon October 24. At noon the fire was well into Moraine Park and was approaching Beaver Brook.


Updated October 24, 2020   |   12:12 p.m. MDT

map East Troublesome Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park
Map of the Thompson Zone of the East Troublesome Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park. Colorado Multi-Mission Aircraft map at about 10 a.m. MDT Oct. 24, 2020. Estes Park is at upper-right.

Colorado’s Multi-Mission aircraft mapped the portion of the East Troublesome Fire that is in Rocky Mountain National Park at 10 a.m. Saturday and determined that since Friday it had spread east about two miles. At that time it had almost reached Moraine Park Campground. The entire fire now covers about 191,000 acres.

A weather station near Estes Park has been recording strong winds since Friday night. The latest, at 11:24 a.m Saturday, was 14 mph with gusts to 37 mph, with 24 percent relative humidity and temperature of 54 degrees. This wind direction, if it continues, will push the fire toward Estes Park.

Additional evacuations have been ordered. https://nocoalert.org


October 24, 2020   |   9:13 a.m. MDT

East Troublesome Fire October 21, 2020
East Troublesome Fire October 21, 2020 as seen from Colorado’s Multi-Mission Aircraft.

An elderly couple who refused to evacuate were killed when their home near Grand Lake, Colorado burned in the East Troublesome Fire. Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin read a statement from their family describing how officials and a family friend drove through roadblocks Wednesday to rescue the couple, but their offers to leave were refused.

Strong winds during the Red Flag Warning in effect Saturday could cause the 188,389-acre fire to spread farther to the east in the general direction of Estes Park.

(You can zoom in and move around on the map below. The red line is the perimeter at 12:40 a.m. MDT Oct. 24, 2020. The thin black line was the APPROXIMATE perimeter mapped through partial cloud cover at 8:30 p.m. MDT Oct. 22, 2020. The red shaded areas represent intense heat.)

In spite of the temperature dropping to 16 degrees near Estes Park Friday morning, overflights Friday night by a satellite and a fixed wing mapping aircraft detected intense heat in what began as a spot fire that jumped across the 10,000 to 12,000-foot elevation Continental Divide. As the East Troublesome Fire rapidly burned toward the Divide on Thursday, burning embers were carried up into the smoke column and transported more than a mile ahead, starting the spot fire on the northwest side of Mt. Wuh about 7 miles west of Estes Park.

Friday morning it was approximately 1,400 acres but was held in check during the day by very high humidity; as the weather changed it became active early Saturday morning. A satellite overflight at 3:42 a.m. showed that it had spread over a mile to the east and southeast beyond the perimeter mapped by a mapping aircraft at 12:40 a.m. A weather station near Estes Park recorded the humidity dropping into the 20s and the wind speeds increasing after 9 p.m. Friday. A gust of 46 mph occurred around 5 a.m.

A web camera at Rocky Mountain National Park’s Fall River entrance had previously shown fence-like barriers blocking the road while the park is closed, but at 9:01 a.m. Saturday the barriers were laying flat on the road, possibly blown over.

Fall River Entrance Cam
Fall River Entrance Cam at Rocky Mountain National Park, at 9:06 a.m. October 24, 2020. NPS photo.

The forecast for Estes Park Saturday calls for the passage of a cold front bringing strong 22 mph winds out of the west gusting above 30 mph, with relative humidity in the low 20s. But beginning at sunset rain followed by snow is expected which will continue through Monday, possibly amounting to about 9 inches of snow.

To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the East Troublesome Fire, including the most recent, click here.

West of the Divide, in the Grand Lake and Granby areas, the forecast is similar — very strong west winds with rain and then snow Saturday evening.

Firefighters have made progress in the last two days on the west and south sides of the fire, putting in fireline and conducting burnouts in the Granby area, which could reduce the threat during the wind event Saturday. They have also been working on the southeast side near Grand Lake to tie in gaps in the firelines.

Incident Commander Noel Livingston said Saturday morning that the north side could be very active during the strong winds, but there is no threat to structures in that area.

The portion of the fire east of the Divide is designated as the Thompson Zone and is being managed by resources on the Cameron Peak Fire about 12 air miles to the northwest. A relief Incident Management Team has been ordered for that Zone, California IMT 4 led by Jay Kurth.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

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