CO-ARF-East Troublesome

State ID: CO
3 letter designator: ARP
Fire name: East Troublesome
Location: Hot Sulphur Springs, CO
Reported acres: 19,086
Rate of spread: rapid
Report on Conditions: The fire made a huge run today 10/21 and is threatening Grand Lake, CO. Wind driven extreme runs with multiple lightning strikes from the pyrocumulus cloud, spotting well ahead.
Structure threat: yes, multiple structures burning
Weather: Red Flag Warning 10/21
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Scanner link:
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125,677 acres as of this morning!!!


100k Run yesterday


Per the live feed on Facebook this evening, the fire is at approximately 170,000 acres (for an additional 50K acres today). It has entered Rocky Mountain National Park, spotted over the Continental Divide and well established on the east side of the divide. It is reportedly hung up in a high altitude valley with some much higher RH’s and fog this evening and approximately 4 miles to Bear Lake Road on the east side of the Park. The western parts of Estes Park are being evacuated, many going east on 34 through the Cameron Peak burn.

A cold front moved in this afternoon which stalled it a bit in late afternoon- we are just in repeating patterns of cold fronts moving through preceded by critical fire weather conditions which has resulted in a blow up like every time. It’s kind of mind blowing. Snow is coming over the weekend but it will likely just not be a season ending event. Based on what the weather gurus are saying, I think we are a month out on widespread season ending events in Colorado. The Cameron Peak fire got 6" of snow at the beginning of September…but here we are. These Chinook/foehn winds preceding cold fronts are pretty normal for this type of year, we just usually don’t have fires going. I’m getting pretty used to brushing ash off my car and finding large chunks of burnt trees on the ground, we are at 2 months of periodic blowups to the west with large smoke plumes over Northern Colorado from more than half a dozen different fires.

The designater for this is ARF, although this is the Arapaho portion of the forest it is collectively Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest (ARF). FYI- the Cameron Peak fire is on the Roosevelt portion.


Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team (managing Cameron Peak) have assumed command of the East Zone of the East Troublesome Fire (East Zone). This is the portion of the fire that has spotted across the Divide and is currently about a mile west of Cub Lake within Rocky Mountain National Park. The East Zone estimated at 1200 acres. They have sent a team to Estes Park for structure assessment and will begin making a plan for the town of Estes.


Both the East Zone Troublesome Peak and southern parts of Cameron Peak remained active through the night last night (though much less so on Cameron Peak), with night ops crews reporting 60+ mph winds on the East Zone Troublesome spot. Overnight Thursday, northern parts of the Cameron Peak fire actually received some freezing rain and snow.

Estes Park all the way east to Drake is being evacuated this morning with very active fire behavior and the predicted wind event which is materializing today. They have also put the Allenspark area (near where the Calwood fire started) on pre-evac notice due to the runs these fires have been making. I am having trouble finding an exact acreage for the East Zone portion this morning (as it is now rolled into the 207,000 total acres for Cameron Peak), but it was 1.5 miles from Bear Lake Road in the park overnight. Red Flag Warning has been in effect since last night until this evening when we are supposed have snow moving in overnight. They are predicting 8-12" of snow with temperatures in the single digits tomorrow- but today will still be a wild ride.


Snow has not quite reached the East Zone in RMNP and the rest of the East Troublesome fire across the divide in Grand County, but will move south as the day progresses with 12" predicted across most of this fire area. There are a bunch of poor saps out still doing structure protection in Estes Park and line construction in freezing temps today to try and get some containment around the East Zone. Up in Grand Lake the team has put a process in place for homeowners to allow the team and contractors to enter houses and make sure pipes do not freeze, as temps will be in the single digits and overnight lows tonight predicted to be around -10 (they are close to 10,000 feet elevation up there). IMET’s are calling this a “season slowing event,” but not a season ending event.


Residents are being allowed to return to Grand Lake today, many still do not have water as they turned off all the water services to prevent pipes from freezing. Grand Lake received about 10" of snow. People on the west side of Highway 34/Trailridge Road between Grand Lake and RMNP are still under mandatory evacuation are not being allowed to return at this time because the fire is still active enough to warrant that- yes you read that correctly, the fire is still active today under 10+ inches of snow.

I would not be surprised if areas of these fires continue to burn and be a nuisance all winter. My first season was in 2000 and IA’d something like 60(ish) fires that year. I went on numerous fires over the winter with Larimer County that year which continued to pop up and still be smoldering around under multiple feet of snow. 2000 was the start of a very bad drought and 2001-2002 went on to be major drought years as well with record setting fire years in Colorado. I fear that may be the case again moving into the next few seasons as we are already in extended drought across the whole state…so this may only be the beginning of some bad fire years. Both this fire and the upper elevations of the Cameron Peak fire burned through areas with massive amounts of lodgepole pine beetle kill. When I was working a future plans for prescribed burns on the ARF in the early 2000’s and looking at fire history, many areas of the forest had not burned in at least 100 years. This forest is full of tons of dead fuel and crazy thick layers of duff. Most people don’t really understand what it takes to have a season ending event and I think many will be upset when they figure out these fires will not be put to bed so easily.