GRAND COUNTY, Colo. — As snow continues melting slowly around the East Troublesome Fire, soaking fuels and keeping the fire from spreading, crews are focused on identifying hot spots around its southern edge. Precipitation isn't expected in the area again until next weekend.
The fire is 193,774 acres and 32% contained, up from 30% as of Thursday morning.
Friday's focus is similar to the past few days: Crews will continue to check for hot spots on the eastern flank between Granby and Grand Lake, and mop up efforts around structures, said Pacific Northwest Team 3 Incident Commander Noel Livingston.
Crews made good progress on Thursday on the East Inlet Trail, which runs from Grand Lake up to the Continental Divide, where there are natural barriers. They finished preparing the trail to act as a containment line in case future fire reaches that area, Livingston said.
There hasn't been any fire concerns on the western or northern flanks of the fire.
The center of the fire burned "extremely hot," meaning there's very little, if any, residual heat left there, he said.
Most of the heat will remain in boggy areas, Livingston said, where there is fuel buried beneath the soil.
The snow is continuing to melt slowly, which is "perfect" for firefighters, he said. They're expecting more of the same on Friday. He said they're not expecting strong winds or extremely cold weather in the next few days. The next precipitation isn't forecasted for about another week.
Dan Quinones, PNW Team 3 Incident Commander Trainee, said Thursday they they do not anticipate any fire growth that would be of concern for several weeks, and potentially longer.
Fire officials said firefighters will work along Highway 34 and Highway 40 focusing on mopping up areas. Firefighters are still responding to hot spots around Highway 125.
Livingston said managers are continuing to downsize around the fire.
"We're now at our organizational size that we'll see through the weekend into next week, which is about 110 or so firefighters that the team will be overseeing," he said. "That's engines and hand crews."
Here’s the view from inside one of the newly reopened neighborhoods. We’re told this field and hillside used to be completely covered in trees and vegetation, now charred and ash on top of snow. You can also see how close flames came to homes here @DenverChannel pic.twitter.com/IEgwKagEDv— Jason Gruenauer (@JGonTV) October 29, 2020
Over the past few days, many evacuation orders have been downgraded.
Click here for an interactive evacuation map, which is also shown below.
Anybody with a home in the evacuation area is encouraged to fill out a property verification and notification form so officials can contact you about re-entry instructions and damage notifications.
Visitation periods planned for some evacuated areas
The Disaster Assistance Center for the East Troublesome Fire in Grand County opened at 8 a.m. at the Inn at SilverCreek in Granby, which is providing food and health assistance, county services, housing assistance and mental health support to victims of the fire.
It will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Additionally, Grand County Emergency Management is planning times in which residents in some evacuation zones will be able to visit their properties in two-hour windows. Orange credential cards for residents can be obtained at the Disaster Assistance Center.
In order to get a card, residents will have to show either a photo ID listing their address inside evacuation areas, a copy of a current utility bill showing name and address along with a government ID, a Grand County Assessor record of property ownership in the affect area and a government ID, a rental agreement or lease with name and address and a photo ID.
For people who cannot provide such documentation, Grand County Emergency Management says people should “bring what you can to prove who you are and where you live/own property.”
The Grand County Sheriff’s Office has scheduled visitation times for Saturday afternoon and next Tuesday afternoon – both from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Residents will have had to have obtained an orange credential card to show deputies in order to be able to enter the evacuated areas for the two-hour periods, and may bring only one vehicle, though no trailers or oversized vehicles will be allowed. Residents may also bring insurance agents, contractors or family members along with them inside a vehicle.
No visitations will be allowed for the areas on Highway 125 past mile marker 5; for Winding River Villas and County Roads 4951 and 4954; and for Sun Valley and Country Road 491 because of ongoing firefighting, utility work and safety hazards.
The Forest Service said the closure of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests will continue through the weekend.
Three of the largest wildfires in Colorado history occurred this year.
These are the state's 10 largest wildfires, ranked by acreage:
1. Cameron Peak Fire (2020): 208,663 acres
2. East Troublesome Fire (2020): 193,774 acres
3. Pine Gulch Fire (2020): 139,007 acres
4. Hayman Fire (2002): 137,760 acres
5. Spring Fire (2018): 108,045 acres
6. High Park Fire (2012): 87,284 acres
7. Missionary Ridge Fire (2002): 72,962 acres
8. 416 Fire (2018): 54,000 acres
9. Bridger Fire (2008): 45,800 acres
10. Last Chance Fire (2012): 45,000 acres
Note: The Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center said the West Fork Complex fire, which burned a total of 109,632 acres in 2013, is not included on this list since it involved three separate fires.
The East Troublesome Fire started Oct. 14 and its cause is under investigation.
Denver7 Gives has started a new fundraising campaign for victims of Colorado's wildfires with all proceeds staying to help our local neighbors. See how you can donate here.