Residents evacuate as raging wildfire in Colorado rapidly expands

GRAND LAKE, Colo. — The rapidly expanding East Troublesome Fire in Colorado has forced thousands of people to evacuate as smoke and flames engulf their community.

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“It was horrific, absolutely horrific to watch. I’ve never experienced anything like that before,” Katy Brown told KUSA. “You’re numb. You’ve been told that it’s gone but you don’t want to believe it. So until you see the ashes you just survive.”

>> Photos: Colorado wildfires force thousands to evacuate

The East Troublesome Fire has grown to more than 170,000 acres, only of which 5% is contained.

“We know that historic buildings and businesses are on people’s minds, and we just don’t have confirmed information at this time. Many of the buildings and the establishments, they are the heart and soul of our community. And as soon we know something definitive, we’ll share with those who are affected and the community,” Mayor Steve Kudron told KCNC Thursday.

The entire Rocky Mountain National Park was closed Thursday.

>> Fire prompts officials to close Rocky Mountain National Park

Conditions remain favorable for the fire to grow. The area remains dry and high winds continue to push through the area.

“We saw about 20 miles of fire growth through the afternoon and into the night, which equates to about 100,000 acres of additional fire activity over that same time period,” Noel Livingston, an incident commander, said at a Thursday briefing.

Hundreds of firefighters were working next to the flames in an effort to slow its progress.

“We were pushing trees down around houses, whatever we could do to to just kind of get a containment,” John Demaris, a firefighter who was operating a bulldozer, told KCNC. “We were going direct, I mean you’re right there on the fire line so when you’re in a dozer like that, you’re punching a line and what that means is you’re going right on that fire edge.”

Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin said some people have been reported missing but there are no injuries or deaths, KUSA reported.

Officials believe the fire was caused by humans.

“This is absolutely the most intense fire behavior I’ve seen in the years that I’ve been doing wildland fires,” Christopher Joyner, a spokesperson for East Troublesome Fire, told KUSA.

Gov. Jared Polis has pledged his support to the region.

“We are working closely with local communities to make sure they have the support they need and will continue to do so in the aftermath, and rebuilding phase from these fires,” He said. “So let’s lift each other up. Let’s lend a hand, whether that’s donating support to the fire response, whether it’s offering a temporary home to your own friends or family that might be in evacuated areas, that’s who we are as a state that’s who we are as a people. And I know I say this a lot and it certainly bears repeating — no matter what, we’re all in this together. We’re going to get through this together as a state.”

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