Rockies Wildfires

In this Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, photo released by the U.S. Forest Service shows light snow at Division X of Cameron Peak Fire at the Rocky Mountain Park in Colo. Snow and cold weather on Sunday put a damper on a wildfire that has forced thousands of people to evacuate in northern Colorado and burned part of Rocky Mountain National Park, but fire officials warned it would not be enough to put out the blaze. A day after strong winds helped push the fire in the park, forcing the evacuation of Estes Park, the gateway town at its eastern edge, temperatures dropped and no fire growth was expected, Noel Livingston, incident commander of the East Troublesome Fire, said.

More residents who were displaced by the East Troublesome fire are being allowed to return to their homes.

Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin said Thursday that residents who live on the west side of Highway 34 near Grand Lake could return to their homes. 

"It gets people back into their homes, check those pipes and let people kind of get back into a normal life," Schroetlin said.

Schroetlin added some high-impact zones west of the highway will remain closed until further notice. 

Twelve traffic control stations will remain in place to prevent traffic, according to a post from the Grand County Sheriff's Office Facebook page. 

As the weekend snowfall continues to suppress the spread of the fire that has expanded to 193,774 acres since Oct. 14, damage assessment crews have been able to scout several areas and have identified 250 structures that have been destroyed.

Schroetlin said the number of structures identified as destroyed includes homes, outbuildings and secondary structures. 

While the fire has been slowed this week with no growth observed since Sunday, fire crews are now moving toward suppression efforts for the future.

"We do not anticipate any fire growth that would be of concern for several weeks ... perhaps even farther out," said Dan Quinones, an incident commander trainee during the briefing.

"We're taking a pause, we're reorganizing our resources ... and really looking out ahead to what maybe coming."

Along side Schroetlin and Quinones on Thursday were several fire chiefs who have been on the ground battling the flames. 

And although the flames are only 30% contained, Grand Lake Fire Chief Kevin Ratzmann said the community will move forward together.

"Unfortunately, this is Grand County's little 9/11, and we’re going to get through this. ... This is one of the worst events if not the worst events to hit this county, and we will get through this together," he said.