Colorado's East Troublesome Fire is growing rapidly and forcing evacuations

Grand County, Colorado, officials issued mandatory evacuations in response to the East Troublesome Fire — a powerful blaze that’s been exacerbated by windy and dry weather conditions and intensified significantly in a matter of hours Wednesday.

“#EastTroublesomeFire continues to advance towards Grand Lake. IF YOU LIVE IN THIS AREA, EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY!! Fire has been reported as close as Columbine Lake,” the National Weather Service in Boulder tweeted Wednesday night. Grand County is about 65 miles west of Boulder.
The Calwood Fire, burning farther east in the state, has grown to more than 9,900 acres, officials said Wednesday, and is 24% contained. The fire destroyed at least 26 homes in an area that had been under evacuation orders near the town of Jamestown on Saturday, officials said earlier this week. And firefighters are also still battling the Cameron Peak Fire, Colorado’s largest wildfire in state history, that is now about 55% contained.
The fires come during what has been a record-breaking fire season across the western US — which many state leaders say was fueled by climate change. Thousands of firefighters have battled flames across the region for the past months, millions of acres have been torched and hundreds of structures destroyed.
    The 61 wildfires burning across the country have scorched through nearly 4 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. At least 17 of those fires are burning in California, with 10 in Idaho and five in Colorado. Other states that have large active blazes include Arizona, Montana, Oregon, Washington state and Wyoming.

    ‘We’re keeping our fingers crossed’

    Colorado’s East Troublesome Fire began October 14 and has grown to more than 19,000 acres, exploding throughout Wednesday. The blaze is about 10% contained, officials said. Smoke plume from the fire had reached an altitude of more than 40,000 feet, the weather service in Boulder said Wednesday night.
    “The fire is growing faster than we can catch it right now,” Fire Incident Commander Jake Winfield said Wednesday, according to CNN affiliate KCNC.
    And even though nearly 300 responders are on the front lines battling the fire, weather conditions throughout Thursday will be ideal for wildfire development. High winds that have already been fanning the flames will pick up, dry conditions will continue and temperatures will be warmer than normal.
    “The longer the day progresses, the worse the conditions will get,” CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said. A cold front approaching the area Thursday evening will offer little relief, Guy said, and instead will be followed by wind gusts of up to 50 mph.
    But a stronger front pushing south this weekend will bring some of the coldest air this season. Snow and higher humidity are forecast, which should offer some hope for containment, he added.
    Fire officials are betting on that snow to get a hold of the blaze, Winfield said, according to the affiliate.
      “We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” Winfield said. “We’re hoping for significant snow.”
      The fire’s cause is still under investigation and officials say they hope to have the blaze contained by November 10.

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